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How to guard against stolen data if getting your phone repaired

This Oct. 21, 2016, photo shows a Motorola MotoG4, right, a Sony Xperia XA, center, and a OnePlus A3000, in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
This Oct. 21, 2016, photo shows a Motorola MotoG4, right, a Sony Xperia XA, center, and a OnePlus A3000, in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Published Mar. 2, 2018

Phones can be broken in a myriad of ways, and if the damage is serious enough, the phone may have to be sent in or taken to a store for repairs.

However, extra steps should be taken to prevent sensitive phone data from being stolen or viewed by prying eyes.

RELATED STORY: Woman suing T-Mobile store employee who stole sex video from phone

After you've chosen your repair method, either by manufacturer or third party, there are steps you can take to secure your private phone data before handing it over for repairs.

Back Up your Data

Both Android and iPhone users have the options of backing their private data up through a cloud service or onto a computer.

To back up iPhone data using iCloud, Apple recommends first connecting a phone to a secure Wi-Fi network, going to settings and tapping iCloud. Then turn on iCloud Backup and tap "Back Up Now." The phone should stay connected to the Wi-Fi network while the backup finishes. Another way is to turn on automatic iCloud Backup.

To use iTunes as a backup method, first connect the iPhone to a computer, open iTunes and follow the prompts. In iTunes select the Apple device then click "Backup Now." There is also an added option of encrypting your backup.

Android users also have several options to back up phone data. Google recommends that users sync their Google accounts with their phones so that data is automatically uploaded to Google Drive for files and folders, Google Play for music and Google Photos for photos and videos.

The other method for Android users is to drag files off the phone onto a laptop. After an Android phone is connected to a computer with a USB cable, tap the "USB for…" notification on the phone. Then select "Transfer Files" and use the transfer window on your computer to find the files you'd like to drag onto the computer.

And finally, Android users can also download Google's Backup and Sync app on their computers to help expedite the process of backing up photos and videos.

For extra resources, iPhone users can go here.

Android users can go here.

Remove external memory cards/SD cards

Any external memory cards can be removed from phones prior to repairs.

Delete your data off your phone and factory reset

After phone data is safely backed up, users can then wipe the data from their phones. For iPhone users, go to the Settings app, tap "General," then "Reset" and tap "Erase all content," which will take the phone back to its factory settings.

Android users can erase their phone's data by first tapping the Settings app then tapping the "Reset" or "Backup & Reset" option on the phone then tapping Device reset. Then follow the prompts.

Apple users can find out more information on resetting data here. Android users can find more information here.

Restoring the phone

After the phone is repaired, restoring your phone only takes a few more steps.

To restore from an iCloud backup, Apple recommends going to settings, tapping iCloud, then Storage, then Manage Storage. Choose a device listed under Backups to see which one was the latest. Then go to settings, tap General, Reset and "Erase all content and settings."

The next step would be to go to the Apps & Data screen then tap "Restore" from iCloud Backup and sign into the iCloud account.

If you used the iTunes backup method, connect the phone to the computer you backed the files up to. Select the device in the iTunes app on the computer, click "Summary" and finally, "Restore Backup."

The steps to restoring an Android phone can vary, but the first step is to sign back into your Google account. Then open the phone's Settings menu, tap "Backup & Restore" under the "Personal" section. Then tap "Automatic Restore."

Backups can also be accessed individually through the Google Photo, Play and Drive apps for the additional files.

If files were backed up to a computer, first, connect the phone to the computer using the USB cable. Follow the prompts on the phone, then drag the files back to the phone using the file transfer windows.

Additional tips can be found here