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Resetting the iPhone to factory state is a straightforward process, but an important one for anyone who is selling or giving away their old iPhone. Before you tap that factory reset button, there are a few things to consider to ensure all of your data is safe.

Even if you think the media and data (apps, songs, contacts, documents, photos, calendar events and so on) on your iPhone don’t constitute a privacy risk, make sure to back up your content before erasing it so it can be restored on a new iPhone or other iOS device.

iCloud Backup

There are two methods for backing up the content. The easiest method is to back up to your iCloud account, which happens automatically. Navigate to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup then scroll down and check the latest backup day and time. iCloud backups usually occur when your device is plugged in for charging, and is connected to Wi-Fi.

ICloud backup

If your device has not been backed up recently, tap on Back Up Now. This backup can be done wirelessly if it’s connected to Wi-Fi.

Note: If the contents of your iPhone exceed the 5GB of allotted of free iCloud space, you will need to either purchase more space, or manage the most essential content to be backed up. We’ve covered how to manage your iCloud storage Manage Your iCloud Storage Rather Than Paying for Yearly Upgrades Manage Your iCloud Storage Rather Than Paying for Yearly Upgrades Having trouble keeping your iCloud account trim? Don't pay for an upgrade, manage your free storage the smart way. Here's how. Read More in order to not pay for a yearly upgrade in the past.

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Once your content is backed up to iCloud, all you need to do is enter your Apple ID and password to restore the data to another iOS device. When you get a new iPhone or iPad, the iOS Setup Assistant will walk you through the restore process.

restore_data

iTunes Backup

I have previously explained how to backup and restore data from iTunes Everything You Need to Know About Backing Up & Restoring Your iPhone from iTunes Everything You Need to Know About Backing Up & Restoring Your iPhone from iTunes Most iPhone users take for granted that the contents of their iPhone is backed up wirelessly to their iCloud account, but it is still useful to know how to restore your iPhone from iTunes. Read More  in detail, but in a nutshell: connect your iPhone to your Mac or PC, open iTunes and locate your device, and then click the Back Up Now.  Remember also that all synced content on your iPhone, such as movies, music, podcasts, and apps are backed up to your iTunes account, where it can be retrieved with your Apple ID.

IPhone manual backup

Note: If you have previously connected and paired your iPhone with iTunes, you can also perform a wireless backup to your Mac or PC Everything You Need to Know About Backing Up & Restoring Your iPhone from iTunes Everything You Need to Know About Backing Up & Restoring Your iPhone from iTunes Most iPhone users take for granted that the contents of their iPhone is backed up wirelessly to their iCloud account, but it is still useful to know how to restore your iPhone from iTunes. Read More as long as both devices share the same Wi-Fi network.

Restoring to Factory State

Now that you have backed up your iPhone content, you can erase its content and restore it to factory state. Navigate to Settings > General then scroll to the bottom of the screen and tap Reset.

Notice on the next screen you have other reset options which might be useful if you’re trying to troubleshoot problems with your iPhone, such as removing network and VPN settings, resetting the Keyboard Dictionary to delete the words you added manually, or resetting the location services and privacy settings to their factory defaults.

IPhone settings

Next tap Erase All Content and Settings and then Erase iPhone and input your passcode and Apple ID password. Once done, all your content, personal data, media and settings will be deleted. The process shouldn’t take that long, and before long you’ll see the iOS Setup Assistant appear to help reconfigure the iPhone as a new device.

Your iPhone now can’t be used until it’s set up again with your or someone else’s Apple ID, but all of your information and personal data has been removed. You will also have removed the Activation Lock protection which blocks thieves from using your phone iOS 7 Features New "Activation Lock" To Prevent Stolen iPhone Reactivation [Updates] iOS 7 Features New "Activation Lock" To Prevent Stolen iPhone Reactivation [Updates] During Apple's opening WWDC opening presentation this past Monday, Craig Federighi, VP of Software Engineering, introduced a tighter "activation lock" for iOS 7, to be released this Fall. The new security feature is designed to... Read More .

Restore From Backup

Your phone is now ready to be sold, given away or placed in a draw somewhere,  safe in the knowledge that none of your personal data remains on it. Restore a new device using your existing backups by following the instructions when you first activate your new device.

Have you encountered any problems when backing up or deleting content. Ask your questions about this process in the comments, below.

  1. Victor O
    January 9, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Isn't there also the fact that a the restored iPhone still requires the old apple ID to use? This was to mitigate phone theft, as the thief would still need the original iPhone owner's appleID/password...

    • Bakari Chavanu
      January 9, 2014 at 9:42 pm

      Good question, Victor. I should of clarified that in my article, that you need to turn Find My iPhone and remove the device from your iCloud device if you plan to sell it or given to someone else.

      Check out this support article for more info: iCloud: Find My iPhone Activation Lock in iOS 7

  2. winsor
    January 8, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    Also, I learned the hard way to either turn off Two Factor Authentication or updating the devices on your account before you do so.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      January 8, 2014 at 11:07 pm

      Aww, good point, Winsor. You're referring to services like Google and Evernote?

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