How to remove your data from your smart home speakers
September 12, 2020
For years, it has seemed that when we bought the latest, fastest computer or phone, as soon as we got it all set up and working, there was suddenly something newer and faster than what we just bought. It happens with smart speakers, too.
When you get a new computer or phone, you need to remove all your personal information from your computer or phone before you sell, donate or recycle it. The same is true of your smart speakers, too. Here's how to remove your data from Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers.
Older Echo smart speakers (the ones with a volume ring on top) have a reset button on the bottom. Straighten out a paperclip, then press and hold the reset button until the light ring turns orange. Release the button, and the light-ring should turn blue, then go dark and then back to the orange light again. Now your old Echo device is in set-up mode, and it's forgotten all about you.
On newer Echo and Echo Dot smart speakers, you need to press and hold the Mic off and Vol down buttons on the top of your device for about twenty seconds until the light ring turns orange. Now release the buttons, and the light-ring should turn blue, then go dark, then go back to the orange light again. Now your Echo or Echo Dot device is in set-up mode and ready for its next owner.
You also need to remove your device(s) from your Amazon account. Open the Alexa app on your phone, open the sidebar menu, and tap on Alexa devices. Tap on your device, then scroll to the Registered to section and select Deregister.
You can also do this from the Accounts & Lists > Your Content & Devices section on Amazon.com.
Echo Show and Echo Spot devices with screens have a deregister option that pops up during the factory reset process available from the on-screen menu.
Google Home speakers
On the back of a Google Home smart speaker, press and hold the mic/mute button for fifteen seconds, then listen for the factory reset confirmation voice prompt.
For the Google Home mini, press and hold the Factory Data Reset (FDR) button on the bottom of the device, over by the power cord, for fifteen seconds.
On a Google Home Max, find then press and hold the FDR button on the back of the device for about twelve seconds.
As with Amazon, Google devices need to be unlinked from your account. Open the Google Home app, tap the top-right corner, and open the settings for the device you're getting rid of. Click on Linked Account(s) and remove the linked user.
If you have another smart home device, check out online forums and user manuals for factory reset and unlinking/deregistering information.
Deleting your conversations
These smart speakers are always listening for their "wake word," which is either Alexa, Okay Google, or whatever you've customized your wake word to be.
Once the speaker hears the wake word, it records what you say and sends it off to the servers that do the real work of figuring out what you want and how to get it to you. That means that there are lots of recordings of you interacting with your smart speaker sitting on a server somewhere. Even after you factory reset your smart speaker, the recordings are still sitting on that server out there somewhere. Let's delete them.
Open the Alexa app and select Settings and History to delete individual recordings. To delete everything, open your Amazon account, under Devices, find your device and select Manage Voice Recording and delete 'em all.
For Google, go to myactivity.google.com. Click on the three dots in the upper right corner and select "Delete activity by" and choose a date range, or even all time, and then choose Voice & Audio under All Products.
What's my name again?
ME: Siri, what time is it?
ALEXA: Who is Siri?
ME: Alexa, I meant Alexa, what time is it?
ALEXA: It's 3:27 p.m., but who is this Siri?
ME: Um. Uh.
ALEXA: Now playing "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood
Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at email@example.com.