How to erase all personal data from your old iPhone

Interested in selling or giving away your old iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad but need to know how to make sure you've erased all your personal information from the device first? Luckily Apple makes it easy to securely wipe all your data. We'll show you how after the break.

Although we highly suggest performing a full firmware restore and setting up your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad as "new", if you're not near your computer you can still get the job done:

  1. Tap the 'Settings' icon
  2. Tap 'General'
  3. Scroll down to the bottom and tap 'Reset'
  4. Tap 'Erase All Content and Settings'

If you have a passcode setup, you'll have to verify your credentials before being asked one last time that you're positively sure you want to dispose of everything on your iPhone. The process can also take some time depending on how much music, video, apps, etc. you had stored on the iPhone, and Apple is writing over the data multiple times for security's sake.

Once it's done you're good to give away or sell your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad without having to worry about anyone getting into something you may have left behind. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below!

Andrew Wray

Andrew Wray is a Salt Lake City, Utah based writer who focuses on news, how-tos, and jailbreak. Andrew also enjoys running, spending time with his daughter, and jamming out on his guitar. He works in a management position for Unisys Technical Services, a subsidiary of Unisys Corporation.

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There are 23 comments. Add yours.

Crayolaboi says:

But won't this also wipe your jailbreak? A jailbroken device is worth more.

Rene Ritchie says:

I'd jailbreak it after I did a clean install/wiped all my data.

Crayolaboi says:

But by doing that wouldn't your iTunes account info be on the device? Sure you can erase it under settings after, but I'm sure it doesn't erase that with "multiple wipes".

Freiteez says:

How would your iTunes account be on it? Sign out of iTunes before you plug in your iPhone. Easy as that.

Limegrntaln says:

This is the final thing you do before you sell or give it away. When it's done it will give you the connect to iTunes screen. Sell it just like that without plugging it in again.

Mortuusestdeus says:

The /best/ way to get rid of everything is DFU restore device.

Mortuusestdeus says:

Also, if you're jailbroken with userland jb this will only kick device to apple logo until you restore from computer. Besides, restore from device doesn't restore everything default. Only the directories that you are supposed to have access too.

Yuppo says:

Yeah, avoid this option if your jailbroken. Thought I'd bricked my 3GS 5 minutes before I sold it, kinda embarrassing.

Luis says:

I have tried this several times while jailbreaked, it just crashed, all of the times, i remember when i didnt know what jailbreak was, it worked great, fine and fast. i dont suggest u do this if theres no actual jailbreak/unlock and u plan to sell it as that.

Omar says:

Yuppo. That happened to me too!! I was cursing up storm.

HungWell says:

Yeah, I'd hate for Wikileaks to get a hold of my iPhone.

mullrat says:

DFU restore. DFU to jailbreak. then wipe with the directions above. just a warning though. it's not nice to change the root password before selling. Although that may help in keeping redundant files in the phone.

huh jackson says:

yep. it wiped out my jailbreak and had to do it all over again! don't do it unless you have to ... i learned the hard way.

huh jackson says:

how do you do a dfu restore? put in dfu then restore it? wiping out your jailbreak UNLESS you jailbreak it again ... sounds kinda like it, isn't it? i think re-jailbreak it again sounds like the best solution unless you don't need the jailbreak or unlock.

Mortuusestdeus says:

@Hugh Jackson. Yes. Dfu+restore=clean iPhone. And to restore/jailbreak/unlock you must have cached shsh with Cydia or tiny umbrella if you want to restore to a jailbreakable iOS.

Tina says:

What about the sim card? Does that still have your phone number on it?

Jay says:

Hi there....i had jailbroken iphone4....and then i did reset ‘Erase All Content and Settings’...what should i do then??
i have waited like 20 minutes...
how long does it take to reset an iphone??

Andrew Wray says:

I've learned since writing this that it will not work on a jailbroken device. See Mortuusestdeus' comment above, you will need to restore.

Flynpeng says:

Do I need to remove my sim card? Is the new buyer expecting a sim card to be in the phone?

Obamason says:

I think. You should sell w/o the sim.

Dave says:

What the hell my phones all fracked up now,thanks.