How to Protect Your Data when Discarding an Used Laptop

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Welp, it's finally time. Your laptop has been with you for years, accomplished plenty of tasks for work, browsed countless amounts of memes online, and let you binge-watch your favorite Netflix shows. Despite all of this, it's time to let it go and upgrade to the next best piece of hardware.

When it comes to trading electronics, there are a lot of routes one can take. While the safest bet is to trade used electronics to an online broker such as, others might take riskier paths like Craigslist or eBay. When you utilize platforms that are non-specific to the used-electronics industry, you run the risk of losing out on potential profits and even worse, data breaches.

In a survey done by The Harris Poll, they found that about 60 million Americans have been victims of identity theft. What's more harrowing is that this same survey found that 15 million Americans experienced identity theft in 2017 alone. However, data breaches don't only have to give way to identity theft; they can also be responsible for leaking trade secrets, adult content, sensitive family information, financial statements, location data, and a heck of a lot more.

You would like to think that Justin'sElectronics89 on Craigslist will treat any undeleted data found on your old device responsibly and with respect to your humanity, but to put it simply, you just can't trust everyone. To keep you and your network's data secure, here is a list of a few tips to put into practice the next time you trade used electronics to avoid a data breach.

SECTION 1: First Things First

1. Control How You Document and Store Data:

The first step you can put into practice comes before you ever even think about selling your electronics. A common problem facing most data breach cases stem from people being digital hoarders. A digital hoarder is someone that might have the most spotless house you've ever seen, but almost non-existent hygiene when it comes to documenting and storing files. Digital hoarders will store anything and everything because they feel a sense of security by possessing information.

Sure, it's convenient to have knowledge about anything and everything, but this can open doors to unwanted data breaches later. In order to practice the tips mentioned later, you need to first get in the habit of only saving files and information you absolutely need.

IMPORTANT: If you must save important data (such as passwords or financial data), ensure that you are password protecting the documents. If you don’t know how simply follow this link:

2. Label Your Files Appropriately:

This step is very straight forward and will help prevent clutter. Whether you're creating documents or downloading files off the internet, ensure that they are properly named. This will not only offer you faster sorting functionality, but it will also help you with file transfers.

3. Transferring Important Files:

When you're trading used electronics, it's often important that you transfer your files to your new computer or a flash drive for storage. If you have properly labeled all your folders and documents, this process will be a lot easier. (and if you limit how many files/documents you have from finishing step 1 it's even easier).

Now that you've looked over the prelimi1nary steps, here's what to do when trading in your computer:

SECTION 2: Trading in Your Machine

4. Sorting & Deleting Junk Files

After going through all your documents and transferring out important ones, you're likely to find a bunch of "junk files". Junk files are files that you can throw out and not care about later. It's always good to make a separate folder on your desktop called "To Trash". This way you can double-check your sorting work and make sure you aren't deleting something you'll regret later.

5. Factory Resetting Your Machine:

Now that we've gone through all our files, this comes the MOST IMPORTANT part. Factory resetting your machine will eliminate any and all personal files from the machine and ultimately prepare it for being traded. I cannot stress this enough; it is imperative that you appropriately reset your machine and clear out any of your personal data.

I could go into detail about how to factory reset Windows, Macintosh, etc.. but to keep things simple, I'll give you a copy and paste format to put into Google:

"how to factory reset ___________" <----- your device in the blank.

Usually, the first tutorial that pops up will be reliable and you should follow it step-by-step. Once you're finished, the device should boot up to the same screen/settings you saw when you first acquired it. At this point, you're all set. Your computer should now be void of any personal data and ready to be traded in!

SECTION 3: The Trade-In Process:

Like I said before, some trade in routes are sketchier than others. It's always better to go through a certified or trusted broker within the business. Folks on Craigslist or eBay might not be so sparing if you missed one of the steps mentioned above. In order to prevent the potential loss of data, you need to utilize SellBroke. SellBroke will ensure that the device (if not totally broken) will be 100 percent ready for trade-in... data and everything. Beyond this, they will offer you the most competitive value for your device and prevent you from losing out on profit.

Trading in your device should be easy and safe. The digital age has only been around for a couple of decades and because of this, it is still strange for some people to think of their electronic data as assets. As I've shown before, Identity theft is very real and dangerous.

To quickly recap how to protect yourself when trading your devices, store less often, name your files appropriately, sort what you need to keep, sort what you need to delete, double-check your delete pile, factory reset your machine, and send it off to get what it's worth!

It's that simple, happy trading!

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