How To: Recycle Your Old Tablet

Sure, the new phone, tablet, e-book reader, computer, game console, or TV is great … but now we also have an old phone, tablet, e-book reader, computer, console, or TV taking up space. Sometimes they find new uses immediately; other times they’re just pushed aside into a drawer, closet or under the bed. Fortunately, hiding gadgets in the recesses of your house and forgetting about them is not your only option. Recycling, donating or selling old electronics is easier than ever. Here’s how

Get ready

Much of the work of letting go of old devices happens before you unplug them. You’ve got to preserve your information, then scrub your old devices clean of your data.

This includes documents, photos, email, and messages, but also a myriad of hidden settings and files: You don’t want whoever uses it next to be able to log in to your Facebook account.

Make a working copy of your data before wiping a device clean.

We know this seems obvious, but it’s amazing how many people lose their photos, music, email, texts, and address books when they decide to upgrade their phone.

For iPhones and iPads, Apple’s iCloud and iTunes offer online and local backup to a Mac or Windows PC; third party backup tools are available.

Don’t pay for services you won’t be using! If you’re getting rid of a phone, cancel your phone service or transfer it to a new device. (Same goes for tablets and notebooks with mobile data service!) If you’re using cloud-based media or backup, cancel your subscriptions (if you won’t use them) or de-authorize your old device and set up service on your new one.

For phones, tablets, and many other devices, you can clear off your data by performing a factory reset. Often, this means digging through configuration menus because reset options are usually tucked away to prevent accidental erasures.

Take out any SD cards, USB drives, and other removable media. Remember: it’s not just phones, tablets, and computers that have sensitive information! E-book readers, Blu-ray players, smart TVs, DVRs, boomboxes, audio receivers, set-top devices like Apple TV, and digital cameras can all carry things like usernames, account info, Wi-Fi passwords, and more. Reset everything.

If you’re selling or trading in your device, disable any tracking services like Find My iPhone or LoJack for Laptops. Otherwise, the value of your device drops to zero.

Remove your SIM card. Every device is different, but in general it’s either in a tray you can pop out, or tucked in with the battery. Check online (most device makers post instructions — here are Apple’s) or in the instructions that came with your device.

No excuses

There are lots of good reasons to hold on to old gear: A backup computer can be a great idea, a two-year-old tablet will still keep kids entertained, and old phones can still dial 911. But if you have electronics just sitting idle and taking up space, it only takes a little bit of work to do the right thing. Get on it.


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