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.
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.
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 in order to not pay for a yearly upgrade in the past.
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.
I have previously explained how to backup and restore data from iTunes 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.
Note: If you have previously connected and paired your iPhone with iTunes, you can also perform a wireless backup to your Mac or PC 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.
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.
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.