Gear / Organizing

How to get your old phone or computer ready to sell


Sell your phones and computers

­So you’re finally going to retire that old phone or computer and get something shiny and new. I feel you… the promise of boosted speed, or the allure of the new and shiny is too much to resist? Same, girl, same.

But before you do a gadget cleanse to make room for the new, you’ll want to make sure you’ve taken the proper steps to prepare the old for it’s exit.  Before you say sayonara to that computer or smartphone, you’ll want to protect your data, get the most out of your investment, and be kind to the environment while your’e at it.

Here’s your guide to saying sayonara to your smartphone or laptop the right way.

Back it Up

Make sure you’ve copied all the files you’d like to keep to another source, like a hard drive, or a cloud service like Dropbox, so you can easily retrieve them when you get your new device. Many external hard drives have pre-installed backup software that makes easy work of copying all your files to a new location, and Apple users benefit from having Time Machine built right into the OS, so they can back-up regularly. For phones, here’s my guide to backing up your data, so it’s ready to copy to your new device.

Wipe it clean

First, wipe the data on the inside, and then wipe the outside clean: If you’re planning on selling it, you’ll want to put your best foot forward to get the most money.

Once your backup is done, to ensure all files are deleted you’ll want to do a factory reset: Instructions here for Macs and here for PCs. And here’s instructions for returning your iPhones or iPads, to factory settings, and Android too.

Then, to make sure it looks it’s best when it’s being purchased, give the exterior a shining… just don’t use any toxic chemicals — here are a few of my favorite products to get the job done.

Sell or Donate

If it’s not too old a gadget, it might be worth something. I use Gazelle to get rid of old devices all the time, and they make it really easy to sell, ship, and receive payment — all right from their website.

In addition to being a trusted platform for buying and selling your devices, they’ll also help you recycle your device if it isn’t worth anything. A guide like this one, breaks it all down.

Recycle Right

If you’re not selling or donating your device (or sending it to Gazelle), you should dispose of it in a way that’s eco-friendly and ethical (I just learned that some “recycling” centers just ship donated items to other countries, where child labor is used to sort through parts… horrifying).

Most electronics contain chemicals that can be toxic to the environment, so finding a service that specializes in recycling computers and smartphones properly is really important. Check out the e-Stewards and Electronics TakeBack Coalition sites for more info.

Have you had success with this process? Or do you have a drawer full of old gadgets that you’re too scared to get rid of? Let me know in the comments. 



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