Every time you use your phone to join a group chat, watch a YouTube video, or conduct an online search, you leave a digital footprint. This trail may jeopardize your privacy if a buddy borrows your smartphone in the future. It also puts your personal information in danger if your phone falls into the hands of someone who isn’t trustworthy.
In this post, we’ll show you how to block your device from logging and storing data that could be easily accessed by others. Instead of limiting the information that apps transfer to the cloud, we’ll focus on cleaning up your phone’s local storage.
Your phone’s web browser, like the one on your computer, has a data-saving incognito or private mode. When you start a session in this mode, the app will remember the pages you visit and the keywords you search as soon as the window is closed.
Private browsing, on the other hand, does not make you invisible. Incognito mode on Facebook’s website, for example, does not prevent the social network from recording your behavior. Your internet service provider (ISP) will be able to observe what you’re doing online and may keep track of it. You’ll need to use a virtual private network (VPN) to mask your browsing from your ISP (more on that in this roundup of security gadgets and apps). Incognito mode, on the other hand, is quite effective at cleaning up the record that has been left on your phone’s local storage.
The method for enabling this mode will vary depending on the browser app you use. For example, in Chrome, touch the Menu button (three dots) on the upper right of the page and select New Incognito Window to enter incognito mode. You can still remove your saved data if you forget to browse incognito. Simply return to the menu and select Settings. You’ll find a Clear browsing data option there, under Privacy and security. When you click it, a dialogue window will emerge with a variety of data-clearing options. Choose what works best for you and then click Clear data.
Tap the Show pages icon (two squares) on the bottom right of the screen and select Private for iPhone users who use Safari. When you hit the Plus button to launch a new window, it will now be incognito. Open the Settings app, find Safari, and hit Clear History and Website Data to delete data obtained outside of private mode.
Delete the messages
Unless you use a chat program that allows you to send self-destructing messages, your discussions will be recorded. Of course, most individuals enjoy going back through old correspondence, but you don’t have to save every detail of a years-long conversation. You can manually remove these old discussions, or you can opt for the less time-consuming alternative of having your chat history erased after a certain amount of time has passed.
Open the Settings app on iOS, click to Messages > Keep Messages, and set messages to expire after 30 days. You can manually delete discussions from the front screen within the app: To delete a topic, swipe left on it and then hit the Delete button.
Unfortunately, this auto-expunge feature is not available in all chat programs. Manual deletion may be necessary to remove any traces of talks from your phone. It will take some time, but it is not difficult. You may erase a discussion in Android’s texting program, Messages, by long-pressing on it and then click the Trash button on the upper right of the screen.
Some programs make it simple to delete all of your histories at once. To delete all chats on WhatsApp, go to Settings > Chats > Chat History > Delete All Chats. Then make a mental reminder to go back and delete your most recent texts regularly.
Another option is to merely send the self-destructing messages discussed above. Telegram Messenger, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat are among the apps that offer this feature.
App logging should be limited.
Each of the apps on your phone will register your activity in a slightly different way. Some will allow you to use incognito mode to hide their scrutiny, while others will cease tracking you if you ask.
For example, the YouTube app features an incognito option that prevents the service from tracking your video viewing habits. To turn on Incognito mode in Android or iOS, start the app, tap your avatar in the top right corner of the screen, and select Turn on Incognito.
Meanwhile, Google Maps may be keeping track of your movements. To turn it off, go to the settings: Launch the app, then go to Settings by tapping the Menu button (three lines) in the upper left of the screen. Select Personal content and then Location History from the options menu. When you tap it, you’ll be sent to your Google account, where you may disable the caching feature by flipping a toggle switch.
There are millions of apps on the market, and there are no hard and fast rules for keeping them from tracking your activities. However, in general, checking for the aforementioned settings—incognito mode and deactivating tracking—is a smart first step.
If you don’t see these alternatives, you’ll have to manually clear your activity. Depending on your operating system, this procedure may differ.
Open Settings > Apps on Android, select a title from the list, then tap Storage. Clear data and Clear cache are the two options you’ll see. Clear them both, and the software will delete all of the data it holds locally. It’ll act as if you’ve installed it from scratch after that, so you’ll have to log in again, set your preferences, and so on.
There isn’t a similar option on iOS, but you can get the same effect by deleting and reinstalling an app. Select one of your apps in the Settings app, then tap General > iPhone Storage. Then select Delete App to remove all of the app’s data. Finally, go to the App Store and reinstall the program.
It’s not possible to do this every day for all of your apps. However, you might wish to do a manual clean-up at regular intervals (say, once a month), before going on vacation, or if you want to start over.
Delete the history of searches
Many mobile apps save data locally as well as on the cloud, allowing you to sync your information across many devices. That implies you’ll have to remove records from several platforms to delete search logs on your phone.
Your Google account, for example, will save the history of searches you’ve done on your Android phone. To delete these records, you must first gain access to them via the internet. Go to your Google activity history page in your browser. If the menu isn’t currently visible on the side of the window, go to the top left and select the relevant option (three lines), then Delete activity. Set the time and content type to All time and Search, respectively, to delete everything, and then click Delete. This clears your search history across all Google-related products, including Android and the Google search engine.
You won’t find a comparable activity sweeper on iOS. Spotlight can, however, be prevented from betraying your previous searches by displaying them as suggestions. To disable this feature, go to the Settings app, select Siri & Search, and disable the Suggestions in Search switch. When you give your phone to your mother to look anything up, she won’t be able to view all of your previous search keywords.