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Erasing any existing data - smartphones and tablets

Just like laptops, our smartphones and tablets are awash with personal data.

To protect donors, you need to ensure that their data is erased before their devices are rehomed. We provide more information about this in the Terms of Engagement.

By the end of this step, you’ll understand your options for wiping legacy data from smartphones and tablets.

You’ll also understand the importance of ensuring that donors of smartphones and tablets factory reset their devices - if they fail to do so, you’ll be unable to use them!


Key insights

  • Our devices know a lot about us

    Millions of us use health apps to record sensitive personal data and banking apps to manage our money. It’s vital that we protect our donors by effectively wiping their devices as both medical and financial records are highly sought after by cyber criminals who resell them on the Dark Web.

  • Commercial partners

    Commercial restoration partners will wipe data as part of the restoration process but smartphones and tablets must be factory reset first. Alternatively, you can manage the process yourself, as below.

Ensuring the process is effective

Method 1. Donor factory resets - smartphones and tablets

Donors must factory reset their smartphones and tablets and log out of any tracking software (such as Find My Device) prior to donation and double-check that the process worked. If they fail to do so, their device will become inaccessible.


  • Smartphones and tablets can only be wiped by donors, performing a factory reset erases all data


  • If the donor fails to factory reset their device, a third party cannot wipe or reuse it

Method 2. Working with a commercial partner - smartphones and tablets

Even commercial partners need donors to factory reset devices before donation.


  • If a commercial partner is restoring laptops for you, they’ll be able to restore smartphones and tablets at the same time (but only if the donors have factory reset them)


  • If the donor fails to factory reset their device, even specialists cannot wipe it! Smartphones and tablets must be factory reset by donors else the devices will be inaccessible, even to commercial restorers

Things to think about

  • Budget

    Outsourcing to a commercial partner comes at a cost, but this can be offset by monetising unsuitable machines.

  • Data privacy

    It is strongly recommended that you tell potential donors how you are going to wipe devices and ensure that you have measures in place to ensure compliance. Don’t forget to refer to the example Terms of Engagement.

  • How can you get the message across?

    To maximise the number of devices which can be rehomed, you need to make sure that donors of smartphones and tablets factory reset their devices before donating them!

Next Step

Installing an operating system - laptops only

After being wiped, laptops often require a new operating system (OS). An operating system is software which controls a device's hardware and enables other software to run, most commonly Windows, iOS or Chrome OS.


Ready to get started?

If you’re interested in setting up a Reboot project, why not download the full Reboot playbook? Regardless of your budget and IT skills, it will help you develop a well-structured Reboot process and maximise your donations!