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Thank you for my Christmas gift… now how do I set it up?

7 December 2017

Surprise! You’ve received a new smartphone or tablet for Christmas. What do you need to do to make sure it is safe? And what should you do with your old device?

Here are some simple steps to help you enjoy your new smartphone or tablet safely.

  1. Set up a screen lock on your new device: this will ensure it auto-locks itself after a short period of inactivity. This is the easiest way to put off intruders.
  2. Set a PIN or password: your device may also offer fingerprint or facial recognition technology to create extra layers of safety. Don’t forget to put PINs on your SIM card and voicemail, if this is available to you.
  3. Install reputable security software: anti-virus software will help monitor and protect your devices from malware infection. The software must be updated regularly to avoid the latest threats, so set your system up to automatically check for updates on a daily basis. Always install software updates as soon as they become available.  
  4. Be careful what you install and only install applications from the major app stores: you need to be very careful when installing apps. There are many malicious and insecure apps on the market and apps which pretend to be legitimate ones. Always check the app’s official website, as well as reviews, to confirm it is trustworthy. Set your device to require a password before any apps are installed. Parental controls could also be used for this purpose. Also double check any ‘permissions’ before installing an app—for example whether you allow the app to access your photo album.
  5. Enable the remote locking/wiping and ’find my device’ functions: there are several tracking apps which can help you find your device if it is lost or stolen. These apps can also help you remotely lock or erase your device.
  6. Turn off location services when you are not using them and limit the applications that can track and use this information.
  7. Record the International Mobile Equipment Identifier (IMEI) of your device: this is a 15-17 digit number often printed on a label under the battery, or found in the settings menu. If your device is lost or stolen, report this number to your provider and they can stop the device being used.

What should I do with my old device?

It’s easy to erase most of your personal data from a smartphone or tablet with a factory reset, however make sure you follow the simple steps below to ensure no data remains on your device if you plan on passing it on and extending the Christmas cheer.

  1. Back up your device: you need to back up everything you want to keep, then you can easily transfer all your apps, contacts and information to a new device.
  2. Remove the SIM card and if you want, transfer it to your new device. Contacts and call log data can be stored on the SIM.
  3. Remove external storage cards: if you have removable storage cards such as micro SD cards, remove them and store them or reuse them in your new device. If you want to pass on the device with removable memory cards included, you need to clear any data. Be warned: factory reset and erase options do not always remove data from external storage cards (check with your device manufacturer).
  4. Format external storage card: if you are passing on your storage card, formatting it is the best option. Most devices using storage cards offer additional options to erase or format your card/storage as part of the factory reset options. You can also physically remove the card from your device and insert it in to a card reader on your computer, or connect your phone to your computer via its USB cable, then manually browse to the card to see if any files are still on it.
  5. Erase/reset: perform a reset and erase all content from your device. All devices offer options to factory reset or erase data. Some also include options to erase data or format storage cards in your device. Ensure these are checked.

Now you can return to the festivities and start enjoying your new Christmas gifts. Enjoy!