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Make game consoles safe to sell

If you're getting rid of your Xbox, Wii, or PS3, make sure you delete your personal data first!

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Let's say you're getting rid of your game console. Maybe you think you're too grown up. Maybe you bought a better one. Or maybe you just need to make rent. Whatever the case, you need to wipe your data off of it. Game consoles these days carry sensitive information like addresses, passwords, and even credit card information.

Here's how to secure each of the three major game consoles before you sell them.

Let's start with the Xbox 360. If you're upgrading to a new Xbox 360, you'll need to get the Hard Drive Transfer Kit, which is included with some newer Xboxes or available for around $50. Using it is an involved process of moving your data, then moving your data licenses. In the end, though, you will erase all the data on the original drive.

If you don't care about transferring content, it's much easier. Go to the 360 dashboard, go to system settings, choose memory, press Y for device options. Select format the drive. And confirm it with yes. The drive will reformat, and you'll see the default setup screen.

On to the Nintendo Wii.

Here you have two steps. Remove the shopping channel, then wipe the drive. You have to remove the shop channel first, because it stores some data remotely. After you wipe the drive, you won't be able to get to that channel to delete it.

Warning: you will lose anything you've paid for when you do this. That means downloaded games, channels, and any unused Wii points. There's no way to move this data to a new console at this time.

First go to the Wii shopping channel, and press start, press start shopping, select settings and features, and choose remove Wii shop channel account. This removes your account information and the channel.

Next go back to the Wii menu, choose Wii options, then Wii settings and select "format Wii system memory." Once it's done you'll see the default setup screen.

Finally the PS3, which in my opinion has the best system for all this.

First you need removable storage like a USB drive, SD card, or memory stick. Plug that in.

Go to settings, select system settings, and choose backup utility. Choose backup. Say yes. And select the storage device.

The next step is to deauthorize that machine on each account that has access. Go to PlayStation Network. Log in to your profile, select account management > click account management > then system activation. Select PS3 system select game or video, either one. Then select deactivate system. Go back and do it for the other one. Then do this for any other profiles you may have on the machines.

Next, go delete each user account on the console.

Finally go to settings, choose system settings, and choose format utility. Choose format hard disk. Say yes and your disk will be wiped.

It's a hassle, sure. You have to decide if it's worth your time to prevent the chance of someone getting your info off a used machine.