Completely reset a Treo 650: the Zero Out Reset

Posted by Admin on October 26, 2008

If you’re a geek like me, you probably see a qwerty keyboard on a cellphone as something you should have copyrighted back in the 90s so you could be living in a yacht in the Carribbean right now.  Well, we missed out.  At any rate, the point of this post is because I’m now a Blackberry Curve fan (with WiFi and the UMA offered by TMobile) and I have this old Treo650 that’s been collecting dust.  It was faithful and tweakable (allbeit unreliable by poweruser standards).   A friend of mine was in need of a phone and I offered up the old Treo… offer accepted.

It’s easy to wipe the Treo memory, but how do you wipe it so it can’t be recovered by someone with crafty tools?  I admit, while writing this post I googled for about 60 seconds looking for such utilities and didn’t find any.  But I’m sure with a little effort and patience, I could.  There have been several articles on the subject from reputable sources like this one in the Washington Post.  Here’s an excerpt:

[some dude] buys about 300 used cellphones each year from eBay and other sites for training sessions. Though the sellers think they have wiped the devices clean, 80 to 85 percent of the devices still have data intact, Schroader said.

“We’ve recovered everything from complete address books . . . to pictures taken in intimate moments. It’s like, well, I didn’t need to see that,” Schroader said.

The fact that cellphones can give up secrets makes them as valuable to law enforcement as to criminals.

Not that I didn’t trust the friend to whom I am hand-me-down’ing the phone, but hey, how do you securely wipe a Treo650?  Seaching Google only yielded the “factory reset” which is dramatically insufficient.  So once I found the instructions, I figured I’d post them in my blog to help anyone out there who may be trying to do the same.

It’s called the Zero Out Reset.

Go to the Palm website and search for solution ID: 887 in the Knowledge Library entitled: Zero Out Reset.

This procedure will reformat the 650’s internal memory:

  • Connect the HotSync cable (it does not need to be connected to your PC or power).
  • Press and hold the Power button, the Up on the 5-way navigator and the HotSync button, and then simultaneously press and release the RESET button (using the stylus in your mouth if doing it by yourself). Then release the other three buttons.
  • The screen will go blank and appear to be dead for up to ten minutes while your internal memory is being reformatted. Your 650 will then “wake up” and the PalmOne and palm POWERED logos will appear. You will then be prompted to calibrate the touchscreen and set the date & time.

The bottom line: if you merely do a hard reset, the data can be recovered using inexpensive software.

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