What should I do with the files I want to keep before I wipe my device?

Before you delete all of your data, review what’s on your device and decide what, if anything you’d like to keep.

As you get started, one important note: some of the links below mention services or devices that require a purchase. These are highlighted because they are commonly used; however, retrievr does not endorse any of these products or the reviewers, nor do we receive any revenue or benefit if you buy any of these products. Our only goal is to ensure you know what it takes to protect your data. In the end, you should do what feels responsible and comfortable for you.

If you have data you want to save, your next step is to figure out where you want to save it. There are three categories of options:

  • Cloud Drives: these websites are essentially online “folders” where you can store files. This is the fastest and usually the cheapest (often free) option for saving a one-time copy of your files, with the benefit that it’s web-based: you’re not buying yet another device to clutter your home.
    • Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive all have free storage plans; some providers put a cap on how much data you can save, and then charge you to add more space 
    • Upload any file(s) or folder(s) to your cloud drive, and they’ll keep it for you
  • Cloud-based backup services: these services offer plans that will periodically and automatically copy the designated contents of your device to the cloud.
    • Once you designate a file or folder to be saved to these cloud drives, the service will scan your device periodically to catch any updates to your files
    • iCloud is built into the macOS operating system for Apple devices such as iPhones, iPads, and Macbooks.
    • Other providers include IDrive, Backblaze, or Elephant Drive. Some of these offer free versions that allow a one-time snapshot of your device, rather than an ongoing/automated backup. PC World offers their reviews and recommendations of their favorite online backup providers.
  • External hard drives work well for anyone who likes having your backups on something physical you can hold in your hand.
    • Many computers come with a built-in backup program. Macs feature Time Machine, and Windows 10 offers backups found within the Recovery menu.
    • The backup program schedules the copies; you still must provide an external drive where the backup copies are stored. PC World offers their view of the best external drives
    • Once you have an external drive, simply connect it to your computer, then copy over the files you want to save to your external drive.

As a company that helps you reduce your clutter, we encourage you to consider the cloud options. An external drive is yet another device that will need to be recycled one day!