How To: Setting Up New Gadgets & Permanently Erasing Personal Info From Old Ones After Christmas

Before you trade in that smartphone or laptop make sure you've removed the SIM, microSD card and erased your data properly.

Apple phones are encrypted by default, so no worries there, just hit the Settings app, General, Reset and Reset all settings. Other operating systems such as Android MAY be unencrypted by default. So, charge your phone up first as this process drains the battery. Then go into the phones settings, into the security menu and turn on encryption. This can take an hour or more. Once done, you can go into the Backup and Reset menu and "Restore to Factory" which will completely an permanently erase the data on the phone. When you format a hard drive or delete a partition, generally that deletes just the file system, which makes the data "invisible" but it's actually still there. You really need to "overwrite" the data for it to be truly, permanently "erased." For a great tutorial on how to use a free tool called DBAN to do this, you can check out this website:

2FA IS A-OK! So you have new webcams, or got a Google Home or Amazon Alexa, that means you may have a lot more of your sensitive info going out into the interwebz. You're ordering things through Alexa or Google Assistant, or you're monitoring your kids and the 'sitter or the dogs through that Nest Cam or Logi Circle, and you may want to secure those services a little more. Step one is to enable 2 factor authentication. Every service does this a little differently, so if you just Google the service you're using (like Amazon for instance) and the phrase "turn on 2 factor authentication" your top result should be a tutorial on how to enable 2FA. Just make sure its from a reputable site, preferably the actual service's site.

IF YOU LEAVE IT DEFAULT, IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT! The other side to that is changing the default username and password. When you get that new webcam or router, one of the first things you should do is change the username and password. And please use a passphrase. Those are harder to crack and actually easier to remember. No more "iloveyou" and "12345."

Backup everything on your phone BEFORE trading it in at the store. Don't rely on iCloud or Google Photos, back up all of your photos on your phone directly to your laptop. This is the most surefire way to ensure everything is saved.

Try using a site like Gazelle, Swappa, and even Best Buy and Amazon have trade-in sites. You'll generally get more for your trade in there than you will with your carrier. Of course, 'tis the season," so if you want to donate, Juan recommends CELLPHONESFORSOLDIERS.COM