How to Erase Your Smart Gadgets Before You Get Rid of Them

You probably know that you need to wipe down your old computers and smartphones before selling, donating, or disposing of them. After all, you don’t want anyone to end up getting your used gadget in order to access your documents, login credentials, or any personal information.

It’s the same with smartphone gadgets – and more importantly, we argue given how much time they are likely to spend listening to your queries or watching you go about your life. But deleting data on your smart speaker or camera isn’t as easy as unplugging it or unplugging it from Wi-Fi.

Most of these devices require a factory reset, which will erase your user settings and some data. This is an easy process, but it may be unfamiliar to you if you’ve never done it before. If you’re ready to let go of your gadget, here’s how to clean up the three most popular smart home devices:

Amazon Echo

To reset your second generation Amazon Echo or Echo Dot, press and hold the mute and volume down buttons at the top of your device. You will have to hold them for about 20 seconds until the ring of light turns orange. After that, release and the ring light should turn blue, turn off, and then turn orange again to indicate that the device has returned to factory default mode.

If you have an old Echo with a volume ring, you’ll find a reset button on the base of your device. Press and hold a paperclip or pin until the ring of light turns orange and makes the same rotation as above.

Before giving away an Alexa-enabled device, you’ll also want to deregister it from your Amazon account. Open the Alexa app and open the sidebar, then click Alexa Devices, click your device name, scroll to the Registered To section and click Unregister. You will need to confirm your choice in a pop-up window.

You can also find all of your connected gadgets on Go to Accounts & Lists > Your Content & Devices , go to the Devices tab, click the action button to the left of the device you want to disable, and click Unregister.

Unregistering Echo devices with screens during a factory restore process. Follow these instructions for your Echo Spot or Echo Show.

Google Home Columns

Reset instructions may differ slightly depending on which Google Home speaker you have. However, in all cases, you must receive verbal confirmation from your device when it performs a factory reset. If he doesn’t say so, he doesn’t fold.

  • Google Home: Press and hold the microphone mute button on the back of the device for about 15 seconds.
  • Google Home Mini: Press and hold the Factory Data Reset (FDR) button for about 15 seconds. This small, round button is located on the bottom of the device, under the power connector.
  • Google Home Max: Press and hold the FDR button on the back of the device for about 12 seconds.

Google has a similar process for disconnecting devices from your account. In the Google Home app, tap the device icon in the upper right corner of the app and open the settings for the device you want to disable (the three dots icon in the upper right corner of the device map). Click Linked Accounts and delete the user you want to disconnect – most likely yourself.

Nest cam

If you have a regular Nest Cam, there is no reset button. You simply remove the device from your account in the Settings section of the Nest app. Scroll down the screen, tap Remove Camera and tap Confirm.

For Nest Cam IQ, both indoors and outdoors, you need to restart your device in addition to deleting it from your account. Locate the pin-sized reset button – on the front of the outer chamber and at the bottom of the inner chamber – and press and hold until the camera light ring turns blue.

Open the Nest app and make sure the camera is offline. Then open its settings, scroll down, click “Remove camera” and confirm. This disconnects the camera from your Nest account.

For any other smart home device (and there are many) …

It’s worth taking a few minutes to consult online guides (or help forums) to find instructions on how to restore factory settings and disconnect communications. And keep in mind that factory resetting a physical device does not always erase data from the manufacturer. For example, if you have a Nest Aware subscription that allows you to continuously record, store, and re-watch videos from the Nest Cam, you need to cancel it before erasing the camera. This will permanently delete the history of your videos and photos.

But with your smart speakers and any devices with built-in Alexa or Google Assistant capabilities that connect to your Amazon or Google accounts, Google and Amazon store your queries in the cloud until you manually delete the entries, no matter what happens to your device. … (And here’s how to delete your saved voice data if you don’t want to keep it after you’ve gotten rid of your smart-whatever.)


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