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How to safely get rid of your old video game console

Saying goodbye to an old video game console isn’t always easy. After all, you likely spent many in-game hours together. Whether it was battling deranged tortoises, stealing cars from unsuspecting civilians, or playing a starring role for your favourite sports team, your console has likely brought you countless moments of joy (and at times, defeat).

Despite the times you’ve spent together, however, there always comes a time to move on to a new console. With new console releases just around the corner , you might even consider getting rid of your old one altogether to make way for its replacement. But before you do that, there are some important things that you need to do to stay cyber safe (and keep your information and money from getting stolen).

Here are five simple steps to take before you sell, recycle, or trade your console:

Step one: Back it up

Many current consoles offer backwards compatibility. This means that some, or most of the games from your old consoles should work with the new device that you’re purchasing (assuming that you’re purchasing the same console type, of course). To save your old games you can back your data up by:

  • Saving your data to an external hard drive
  • Transferring your data from the old console to the new console by connecting them through a network
  • Uploading your data to the cloud service for your system

Step two: Log out of your accounts

Your gaming console has a lot to say about you. This personal information - from your email address and credit card number to your social media and streaming accounts – is not something you want to share with a cyber criminal.

To eliminate the sensitive information from your device, you can remove your accounts from your console. In the appropriate menu, you can delete your credit card information and social media links, as well as any other linked accounts. For all other apps, you can sign out and manage your account information in your app settings.

Step three: Do a factory reset

A factory reset is exactly what it sounds like. It will revert your console settings back to when you took it of the box. Doing so will also make all of the information that was saved inaccessible through the user interface. (Refer to step two above before doing a factory reset – and if there were any accounts that you may have missed at that point, a factory reset should make them inaccessible.)

If you have external media that was attached to your video game console, such as an external hard drive or memory card, make sure that you dispose of these separately as a factory reset will not erase them.

This is the most important step before getting rid of your device. It will get rid of all of your information so the next user, or a cyber criminal, doesn’t have access to your money or accounts.

Step four: Whatever you do, don’t throw your device in the trash

So, you’ve backed up your files, saved your saves, and reset your console back to its original factory settings. Your first reaction may be to dispose of your device by either tossing it in with the rest of your garbage or leaving it out with next week’s recycling.

But please, don’t do this.

Improper disposal could lead to a cyber criminal grabbing your device off the street and using it to infiltrate your accounts, spend your money, and access your information (particularly if you didn’t do the steps above). Plus, it’s really bad for the environment.
Instead, do one of the following:

  • Reuse your console by gifting it to someone you love (or even kind of like). You could also donate your console to a local organization, like a community centre or library. Just make sure you follow the above steps to sanitize your device before giving it away.
  • Resell your device after completing the steps above. You can resell or trade your device online with someone that may be interested, or you can bring it in to your local game shop to see if you can get store credit for it.
  • Recycle your console instead of throwing it into the trash. Because electronics contain many damaging chemicals, you’ll need to recycle it at a dedicated e-recycling centre.

Conclusion

Don’t let your experience with a new console be ruined because you didn’t safely get rid of your old one. Give your device the send-off it deserves – and protect yourself in the process!

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