Skip to content
Search Magazine

How to delete your iPhone data

Lynn Wright / 18 September 2015

Before you sell or give away your old iPhone, make sure you fully delete all your stored personal data. We show you how to safely wipe your iPhone data.

If you don't delete your iPhone data, a dishonest buyer could easily steal your identity to commit fraud

With Apple’s latest iPhone now on sale, you may be thinking of selling or giving away your old iPhone in order to trade up to a shiny new iPhone 6s. Yet before you do, it’s vital to delete all stored personal data.

Like most smartphones, your iPhone holds a lot of personal information – from email, photos and social media profiles to passwords and financial transactions. If you don’t erase this information, a dishonest buyer could easily steal your identity to commit fraud.

Fortunately, it’s easy to keep your personal information safe. As Apple’s iOS automatically encrypts data when you use a passcode and wiping your iPhone destroys the encryption key, you can be confident that once your data is fully erased, it’s gone for ever.

Follow these simple steps to wipe clean and reset your iPhone.

Back up your iPhone

First, create a backup of the data on your old iPhone using iCloud or iTunes. You can then use this to transfer all your personal information and settings to your new iPhone in one easy step.

While Apple iCloud automatically backs up your iPhone once a day, it’s best to do a manual backup to make sure everything is up to date. Tap Settings, then iCloud, then Backup. Tap on Back Up Now. This may take a few minutes depending on when your iPhone was last backed up to iCloud. 

To backup using iTunes, connect your iPhone to your computer and open iTunes. Select your iPhone in the top left-hand navigation pane, and then under Backups in the Summary section, click the Back Up Now button.

If you want the backup to include all your passwords for email, wi-fi, and other accounts, tick the Encrypt Backup checkbox first, before you create a manual backup. 

You’ll need to create a password for this, and keep it safely stored it as there’s no way to recover your encrypted backups without this password. 

Alternatively, you can enter these passwords manually on your new iPhone.

Sign out of iCloud

Before resetting your iPhone, turn off Find My iPhone by tapping Settings, then iCloud, then Find My iPhone. Enter your Apple ID password when prompted. Then sign out of iCloud by tapping Settings, then iCloud. Scroll down and tap Sign Out

In iOS 7 or earlier, tap Delete Account.

You may also want to sign out of other services that use your Apple ID such as such as iMessage and iTunes & App Store.

Delete data on your iPhone

Make sure your iPhone is fully charged before beginning this process. Go to Settings and tap General, scroll down and tap Reset.

On the Reset page, tap Erase All Content and Settings. If asked for your device passcode, enter it. 

You’ll then see a warning screen asking you to confirm your action, tap Erase iPhone. It may take a few minutes to delete everything and restart. You’ll then see the iPhone setup screen.

If you’ve registered your iPhone with Apple by its serial number, it’s a good idea to unlink it from your Apple ID on Apple’s website. 

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.