How to Clean Up Your Technology Footprint Before Leaving a Company

You’re hunting for another job, moving away, or ready to get away from your terrible boss. Whatever your reasons for leaving your current work situation, you’ve got more to do than just write your two weeks’ notice. You’ve been using company technology for a while now, which means you’ve probably allowed some personal data to creep onto company machines.

Clean up Your Work Email

You used your work email for work… 90 percent of the time. If you have any personal emails in your work email account, forward them to yourself at your Gmail or MSN account. You don’t need to clear out your email account because those emails are probably saved on a server or in the cloud somewhere, anyway. That being said, don’t forward any company emails or anything that contains sensitive company data, because you could get in trouble for that.

Unsubscribe from any newsletters or mailing lists, too. Most companies set up email forwarding for a month or two after someone leaves, so any client correspondence doesn’t fall by the wayside. You don’t want the person getting your emails to have to comb through newsletters to find the important letters.

Clear Browsing History

Go into your web settings and clear your entire browsing history. Your boss probably knows you went on Facebook or Spotify occasionally, but there’s no sense in leaving a record of it. While you’re in settings, clear out cookies and any saved passwords. If you have any websites bookmarked or saved that don’t directly relate to work, delete those, too.

Search for Personal Files

Personal files migrate to company devices relatively easily, even if you try to be careful not to allow it to happen. A couple favorite songs, a picture of your cat, a word document containing random kitchen remodel ideas you had to jot down ASAP — you might be surprised by what you find. Go through all the files and folders in your work devices and seek out your personal files. Save them on a USB stick and transfer them to your device at home or to your personal cloud account. When you delete them from your work computer, make sure you empty the recycle bin when you’re done.

Reset Your Company Smartphone

When a company gives you a device to use for work, chances are someone had that device before you, and someone else will have it after you. After you’ve looked through your company phone and saved any personal data, it’s time to do a reset to erase any remnants and make the phone usable for the next person. You could comb through the phone, uninstalling apps, deleting your text threads, and erasing your voicemail greeting. A reset does all this in one swoop, saving you time for other things.

If you’re operating an Apple device, T-Mobile’s guide to reset an iPhone 6S is a great resource for doing a factory reset; it is sound advice from a reliable nationwide service provider. Be sure you’ve saved anything personal first because you can’t go back from a factory reset.

Don’t Get Paranoid

The point of all this searching, saving, and deleting is so you don’t lose any personal information when you exit the company. Maybe, too, to hide how often you really went on Facebook. You don’t need to make it appear as though you never used office technology. Your work computer should still contain work files, cloud access, and client correspondence. If you get too enthusiastic when you’re scrubbing your electronic footprint, you might accidentally make yourself look suspicious.

It’s a good idea to start this process before you hand in your resignation letter. You may not have access to your devices and files after you’ve resigned. Plus, do you really want IT to know you downloaded a dozen kitten videos to watch while you were on boring conference calls?

You’re not the only person who’s ever stored personal files on a work laptop, nor are you the only employee who has ever used a company device to browse Facebook. Going through your history and files is a good idea, whether your company will be wiping your device completely clean or simply handing it over to the next person.


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