How to: Erase personal data and reset an iPhone or iPad

Moving on to a new iOS device and looking to sell your old one? Passing it along to a friend or family member? Maybe you just want to get a fresh start and free up some storage space. No matter what your reason, Apple makes it easy to erase all personal settings, saved content and apps, and stored passwords on an iPhone or iPad, giving a clean state to whoever uses the device next and protecting the data and privacy of its previous user.

Before Getting Started

icloud-backup Before getting started, it’s a wise move to back up your current data and settings with iCloud or iTunes. This can easily be done by connecting your device to a computer or enabling iCloud Backup. Do so by navigating to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup > iCloud Backup on your iOS device.

find-my-iphoneIf you are planning to erase and reset a device currently running iOS 7 or higher, you will also need to disable Find My iPhone. Do so by navigating to Settings > iCloud > Find My iPhone.

How to erase personal data and settings from an iPhone or iPad

Once you have prepared your device for a reset by performing a backup and disabling Find My iPhone, erasing personal data and settings is easy. The entire process can be completed from the Settings menu with no need to connect to a computer. Follow these steps:


  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Navigate to the General screen.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the menu and select Reset. From this menu you can choose to perform a number of reset procedures
  4. Choose Erase All Content and Settings to perform a complete wipe and reset of the device. Alternatively, choose another option to only reset certain stored data and settings.
  5. When asked to confirm your selection, tap Erase iPhone.
  6. When prompted a second time (remember: this action cannot be undone), tap Erase iPhone again.

While resetting the device is not easily reversible, it is not impossible to restore your device to its previous state after you have wiped it clean. This is where the iCloud or iTunes backup you created comes into play. When going through initial device setup after a reset, you can choose to restore the device from one of these saved backups.

That’s pretty much all there is to it. Again, a reset is highly recommended if you plan on passing your device along to a new user. It will both give that person a clean slate to work with and protect any data you might have had stored on the phone. This method is far more effective than simply deleting apps, music, and other stored settings manually. Performing a complete reset is the only way to insure that all settings and data are indeed erased and inaccessible.


Continue reading: