Tabula Rasa - How to wipe the data from your BlackBerry device, removing all personal information

Wipe your personal data from your BlackBerry
By Joseph Holder on 27 Apr 2011 11:10 am
0
loading...
5
loading...
41
loading...

There will come a day when you and your BlackBerry part ways. Though that stalwart piece of technology has served honorably, there are always something new upon the horizon. On that sad, sad day, there will be many heartfelt speeches about all the good times together. Tears well up as you check your email one... last... time...

Who am I fooling? You're going to be too excited about your new BlackBerry to really care about the old one! Once you've completed the Device Switch, your old phone is next to forgotten. Take a moment, though, to consider what will happen to that BlackBerry. Will it need to be returned to the warranty or insurance center? Will you donate your phone to a worthy charity? Passed down to a friend or family member? Thrown in the garbage? (not recommended)

Before you do, make sure to remove your personal data from the device. If you don't wipe the data from your BlackBerry, you're basically saying, "Here's all my information. I want to get my identity stolen by the random person who gets this phone!" Don't give away your life story; prepare your BlackBerry for its next life by removing all of your data, leaving your old BlackBerry a tabula rasa for its next owner.

A Word of Caution

This process is irreversible. Once it has started, it cannot be stopped without at least some data loss and the potential of damaging the operating system. Make sure you have successfully backed up the data on your device. You have a number of options to choose from: BlackBerry Desktop SoftwareBlackBerry Protect, and even BlackBerry Swiss Army Knife can be of assistance. In whatever way you choose to go about it, back up your data.

Wiping data using your BlackBerry

Removing the data on your BlackBerry is not a difficult procedure, but it's not as simple as click, click, click, either. You have to want it; there's no excuse for "accidentally" wiping the data from your device. Open the options menu; the icon usually looks like a wrench. From there, select Security (Security Options in OS5 and below) and then Security Wipe.

You'll have the option to delete data, applications, and any files on your Media Card. My recommendation would be to delete the data and applications and keep your memory card for your next BlackBerry. Otherwise, select all three options. At the bottom, you'll need to type "blackberry." This is the final check to make absolutely certain you want to delete, wipe, and remove all of your personal data.

Wiping Data using Desktop Manager

Wiping personal data from your BlackBerry using the Desktop Manager 

Using the Desktop Manager offers a bit more control over the deleting processes, but nevertheless accomplishes the same function. Attach your BlackBerry via USB and start BlackBerry Desktop Software. Once your device has connected, open the Device menu and choose Delete Data... In the next window, you can select to delete all or only some of your data. You're also prompted to complete a backup before deleting. As before, you will be asked to confirm your data deletion.

BlackBerry Swiss Army Knife

BlackBerry Swiss Army Knife 

It is possible to wipe your BlackBerry completely using BlackBerry Swiss Army Knife. This removes the operating system as well; the phone will be useless. If you are returning your phone to a warranty or insurance claim center, this may be acceptable. If you plan on donating, selling, or giving away your BlackBerry, completely wiping the device would be an irresponsible action to take.  Put an OS back on that phone before you pass it on.


When parting with your BlackBerry, wiping the personal data from the device is the smart thing to do. Protect yourself from strangers reading your email, thieves finding your passwords, and grandma watching your videos.

More to find... 

BlackBerry 101: How to switch devices
BlackBerry First Steps: Operating systems - official, leaked, and unofficial 
BlackBerry 302: A complete wipe and clean install of your BlackBerry OS
BlackBerry 101: How to Reload the Operating System on a Nuked or Bricked BlackBerry

5 comments

Omnitech

It should be mentioned that - at least in the past - a "security wipe" takes a long time to execute, something like 30-40 minutes or so.

This is a sign of RIM's security model - when they say 'erase' they mean 'securely erase', which doesn't just mean reset a few filesystem pointers (thus making them recoverable if you know what you're doing), it means overwriting every bit of stuff that used to be there, just like doing a secure wipe on a hard disk.

Gamesdmc3

Will wipe my device after i transfer all of my Data to the 9860 when it comes out

MrsD.

What happens when "Security Wipe" isn't a choice from the menu? We are trying to delete information from my friend's 8330. Does anyone have a suggestion?

mvortex1

Why do I not see more mention that the security wipe doesnt actually work? We have done a complete security audit and found that information is left behind. Basically, my user loses thier device, someone picks it up, gets a wipe due to exceeded password attempts and when it comes back they see it's from my company, they have our user ID naming convention, applications we use, etc. It simply does not work.