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Issue #603: February 10-16, 2019

Q: I have an android ZTE I want to know if there is any way I can completely erase photos and any information from it without anybody being able to get back anything I previously had in it?

– Violet M.
Ballinger, Texas

A: It is always, always (did I mention always?) a good idea to make sure every last bit of personal information is removed from a piece of hardware before you dispose of it, sell it, or otherwise let it go out of your control.  This includes computers (especially their hard drives) and the many types of portable electronics that we now carry around with us everywhere we go, and which we casually fill with everything from family members’ names and birthdays, to bank account numbers and access passwords.  If this information falls into the wrong hands, the results can range from embarrassing to utter financial disaster.

So, this is a great question, Violet, because the information I have for you will be of value to anyone. The terminology and basic process apply to everybody, even though you’re seeking information and procedures for a specific model of smartphone.

So, first things first.  What you want to do is called a factory reset, or sometimes a hard reset.  These names should be telling, since what we’re going to do is basically return the device to the state it was in when it first left the factory, and before you ever personalized it, and started packing it with pictures and personal information.  Don’t experiment with this on your o wn device unless you’re willing to lose everything you have in the device.  On the other hand, if you are willing to lose everything, and you want to refresh a device that has become sluggish because it is overtaxed with apps and data, this may be exactly what you’re looking for.

Now, these procedures are for Violet’s ZTE Blade, but I assure you, whether you are running an iPhone, a Galaxy, a Razor, or any of the other hundreds of models of smartphone, there is a factory reset procedure for your model too.  You can find the procedures by performing a Google search on the model name, and the term factory reset.  E.G. “iPhone 6 Plus factory reset”

So, Violet, start with your device turned off.  Press the volume keys and power together until the Android Recovery Menu appears.  Use the volume buttons to change the selection, and choose “Wipe Data, Factory Reset” then activate it by pressing the power button.  The phone knows this is a destructive action that can not be undone, so it’s going to double-check that this is really what you want to do.  Select “Yes – Delete all user data”.  When you see the word “Done” on the screen, select “Reboot System Now” and the phone will restart as it did when it was brand new.

• • •

Geek’s Corner: I need to get something off my chest.  I’ve been receiving a lot of reader questions lately in which the person says something like “You don’t need to print this in the paper,” or “Please write back as soon as possible, I’m waiting to hear from you.”  Let me take this opportunity to gently remind you, dear Geeks, that IGTM is not a computer repair service, it is a newspaper column.  So, of course I need to print this in the paper! That’s kind of the whole purpose of my doing it.  I don’t mind withholding a name or location if requested, but I have neither the time nor desire to try and provide free 1-on-1 personal service to everybody.  I try to provide answers to questions that I think will be of benefit to many people, not just the person who wrote in.  To that end, if your problem is of such extreme urgency, or you require assistance so quickly that you’re standing by, waiting for a response from me, I submit that you need to consider taking your computer to someone who is in business to provide the kind of rapid service you’re looking for.  And yes, you’ll probably have to pay for it.  Otherwise, here I am – free, but working at my own pace, and writing it into a newspaper column.

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