How to wipe all of your personal data off an iPad or iPhone

How to erase all of your personal data off an iPad or iPhone

If you're selling your iPhone or iPad or passing it on to someone else, the first thing you'll want to do is make sure they won't have access to any of your personal data. Fortunately, iOS makes it very easy to wipe all your data off your old iPhone or iPad, no computer required. Here's how:

Before doing this, you obviously want to make sure you either have an iCloud backup or an iTunes backup of your data. Otherwise, you won't be able to get your stuff back. Once you're sure you have a backup for your own use, proceed on.

Turn off Find My iPhone

If you're on iOS 7 already and you have an iCloud account linked to your iPhone or iPad, you'll need to sign out of Find My iPhone before you can truly wipe the device.

  1. Launch the Settings app from the Home screen of your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Scroll down and tap on iCloud.
  3. Scroll down once more and turn Off the Find My iPhone option.
  4. You will be prompted to enter your iCloud password. Once you're done entering your password, tap Turn Off.

That's it, you can now proceed to wiping your iPhone or iPad. The above steps are only necessary if the iPhone or iPad you're trying to restore is on iOS 7.0 or above.

Erase all data from your iPhone or iPad

  1. Launch the Settings app from the Home screen of your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Now tap on General.
  3. Scroll all the way to the bottom and tap on Reset.
  4. Tap on Erase All Content and Settings.
  5. You will be prompted to confirm your selection, tap on Erase iPhone.
  6. Once more you will be reminded that you can't undo this action, tap Erase iPhone one more time to confirm.

That's it. Your iPhone or iPad will reboot after a few minutes and all your personal data should be gone and again look like the day you pulled it out of the box.

Allyson Kazmucha

Help and how to editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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There are 20 comments. Add yours.

93Aero says:

Thanks good to know just purchased a 5 and 5c last month, haven't had a iPhone since the very first one came out. I've forgotten so much since then.

Canacandge says:

This is a good tip, Rob.

"Note that if you do not have a passcode assigned to your iPhone or iPad in the first place, potential thieves already have access to your device and can restore it with a fresh install of iOS"

However, my understanding is that, if Find My iPhone" is enabled, restoring an iPhone with a fresh install of iOS 7 is not possible unless the thief has access to the user's Apple ID password. Right?

If so, you might want to consider clarifying this benefit of Find My iPhone in this article.

"You can’t restore the device using iTunes. iTunes will inform you that the device cannot be restored as Find my iPhone is on. So you need to first turn off Find my iPhone, which as we mentioned earlier, will prompt you to enter the Apple ID password, and then restore the device using iTunes."

http://ow.ly/xeNGX

Tomeridd says:

I recently sold my iPad 2 and followed the erase all content route but didn't stick long enough to see it through. Days later I kept receiving iMessages that clearly weren't meant for me. My question is does iMessage work with UDID in case of iPad delivery or is it just that the buyer didn't let the iPad complete the erase procedure?
http://to.ly/zNQH

KinzeZ says:

Welcome to the iPhone world! This method works great on new devices, like iPhone 5S/5C. But it seems has some problem with old devices. The screen frozen at the last step and nothing erased after reboot. Get it fixed by following this tip:
http://bit.ly/1zsxWGc
Much easier and fast than the default method.

ddeming says:

What if the phone is jail broken? Does it get rid of that or keep it?

Lenin17301 says:

Until the release of the Semi-Restore windows app, the jailbreak always broke the Erase all feature, with Semi-Restore you can wipe your data and keep the jailbreak, of course this only works on iOS 6.1.3 and lower, iOS 7 does not have jailbreak nor Semi-Restore yet.

zubesha Dcuze says:

You should Zero Out your personal data with the programs/apps like Safe eraser ( http://www.iphone-to-pc.com/ios-data-erasing-utility.html ) which supports both non-jailbroken and jailbroken devices OR ishredder If you want to erase data permanently from your iPhone/iPad , so that no one can recover your deleted data by using various iOS recovery programs available in the market. This is true for both Jailbroken and non-jailbroken devices.

P.S - I was also looking for something to erase my iPhone 4S (jailbroken) data permanently before selling it.

graison says:

Don't you need to turn off Find my iPhone first?

Sent from the iMore App

pappy53 says:

Yes, and turn off iMessage. And probably would be best to sign out Apple ID on the phone.

suz5ive says:

I know how to turn off find my iPhone and iMessage. How do you log out of your Apple ID though?

Sam Threepwood says:

This guide is incomplete and would actually not help the user at all if you have iOS 7. You absolutely have to turn off Find my iPhone. If not, you think it is reset and it is but when the person tries to setup his device later, he will be prompted to enter the apple account password tied to the device. The device would be useless to him/her.

I'm quite surprised why you have not mentioned this.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

I completely forgot about this because I wiped a test device I wasn't signed into on. Thanks! Adding it!

Obsidian71 says:

Walter White told me the only safe way is Chemical Disincorporation. Anyone have some Acid and bucket I can borrow?

GlennRuss says:

I did that to my 4S giving it to my son. We set it up from his iPod Touch iCloud back up. He will go to the carrier (att), and set up a phone number. All his apps setup fine. My phone number was showing in "about" of course the sim will be changed out by the carrier. Not sure why my phone number was showing. No other information about me was on the old phone. I erased the number.

Sent from the iMore App

Annette Charleston says:

I have my sim in a new iphone now so if I use it to do this, in old phone, will it wipe the information on the sim?

Allyson Kazmucha says:

Absolutely not. Your SIM is in no way tied to your actual data.

Digihunter says:

Apple’s wipe solution is not safe!!! Look at this article:
http://www.macnews.com/content/macosg-securely-erasing-iphoneipod-touch-...
Because All ios devices that support iOS 5 or later use hardware encryption. That means the data can be recover by using the right software.
http://support.apple.com/kb/ht2110
This video will help you. If you want to wipe iPhone data and zero possibility of data recovery.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zhz7sUQu8w4

QuentinaWhite says:

If you want to prevent your important private information from being stolen by identity thieves and need to permanently delete all data from iPhone,use iPhone Data Eraser, then you can perform the erasure by yourself.

iPhone Data Eraser is an outstanding program that empowers you to erase the iPhone data including contacts, SMS, pictures, videos, call logs, and so on, permanently and become unrecoverable even if you use iPhone Data Recovery.

After you have downloaded the software and launch it ,you can have 3 Different Ways to Erase iPhone Data Safely

Step 1. Run the Program and Connect iPhone to PC

Step 2. Choose Files You Want to Erase and Wipe Mode

Step 3: Start to Delete Text Messages from Your iPhone

Read the tutorials, which will teach you how to rease iPhone Data safely.

Note: It is impossible to recover these data that was already wiped by iPhone Data Eraser.