How to Completely Erase Personal Data Off Your iPhone

by David Lipscomb

Your iPhone serves as a portable computer, offering access to financial and professional information. If you plan to sell your iPhone, it is prudent to first erase all your personal information from the device. You may do this with or without iTunes. If you lose your iPhone or suspect it was stolen, you can remotely wipe sensitive information on the device from another computer. Performing these operations returns the iPhone to its out-of-the-box condition.

Oh the iPhone

Tap "Settings" and "General." Tap the "Reset" button.

Tap "Erase All Content and Settings." Enter your iTunes password if prompted.

Tap the red "Erase iPhone" button twice to confirm. Wait for the process to complete.

With iTunes on a Computer

Connect your iPhone to your computer using the dock cable. Wait for iTunes to open.

Right-click on your device's name. Click "Back Up."

Click on the "Summary" tab. Click the "Restore" button in the Version area. Click "Don't Back Up" since you just performed this action.

Click "Restore" in the next pop-up window to confirm your decision. Allow a few minutes for the process to complete. Leave the iPhone connected to your computer until the unit appears under the "Device" header in iTunes.

iCloud Remote Wipe

Open your Web browser and navigate to Enter your Apple ID and password to log in.

Click on the "Find My iPhone" icon. Choose your iPhone from the "My Devices" pane that appears on the map.

Click the "i" symbol inside the black bubble pointing to your iPhone. Click the "Remote Wipe" button inside the new pane.

Click the red "Wipe iPhone" button to erase all content on your iPhone.


  • It's prudent to back up your iPhone's data and settings even if you plan to sell the phone. If the sale falls through or you change your mind, all your content is ready to upload once again, or it is available to load onto a new iPhone.
  • You can locate your iPhone from other iOS devices from iCloud using the "Find My iPhone" app.
  • You may choose to remote lock the iPhone if you left it somewhere reasonably safe but wish to prevent access until you retrieve it.
  • To use the remote wipe or lock feature, you must first set up "Find My iPhone" on the phone. Tap "Settings" and "iCloud." Slide the "Find My iPhone" switch to the right to activate the feature. Tap "Allow" to confirm tracking of your iPhone.


  • When your erase your iPhone, the process cannot be undone. You must restore your recovered iPhone or its replacement from a backup.

About the Author

David Lipscomb is a professional writer and public relations practitioner. Lipscomb brings more than a decade of experience in the consumer electronics and advertising industries. Lipscomb holds a degree in public relations from Webster University.

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