How To Erase Your iPhone’s Data Before You Sell It

Are you planning to sell your iPhone to buy Apple’s next generation iPhone?

Before you sell or trade-in your iPhone, it is extremely important to erase your personal data on it. You’ll be surprised how many people sell their iPhones without doing anything to remove personal data.

Follow these simple steps to make sure that your personal data such emails, text messages etc. cannot be accessed by a stranger.

Backup your iPhone’s data:

Before you erase your iPhone’s data, it is important that you first take a backup of your data, so that you can restore it to your new iPhone.

Depending on which version of iOS you’re using and your sync preferences, you’ll either backup to your computer or Apple’s iCloud service.

Back Up via iCloud:

iCloud automatically backs up most of the important data on your iPhone (running on iOS 5 or higher) on a daily basis. But you can manually take a backup one last time before we show you how to delete your personal data.

  • Please ensure you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network.
  • Launch the Settings app
  • Navigate to iCloud -> Storage & Backup
  • Tap on Back Up Now
This can take several minutes depending on when your iPhone was last backed up to iCloud.

Back Up via iTunes:

  • Connect your iPhone to the computer that you normally sync it with.
  • Open iTunes and select your iPhone under Devices in the left-hand navigation pane
  • Right-click (or Control-click) the device and select Back Up
Note: If you’ve purchased some items on your iPhone and haven’t transferred these purchases to your computer yet, right-click the iPhone and choose “Transfer Purchases” to transfer the purchases prior to backup.
Erase all your iPhone’s Data and Settings:
Now that you’ve taken a backup of your data, you can follow these steps to delete the data and settings from your iPhone.
Note: It is advisable that your iPhone has full charge or connected to a power source before beginning this process.
  • Launch Settings app
  • Tap on ‘General’
  • Scroll down to the bottom and tap on ‘Reset’
  • Tap on “Erase All Content and Settings” option
  • If you’ve set a passcode, it will prompt you to enter the passcode
  • After entering the passcode, it will prompt you one last time if you want to delete data and settings from your iPhone.
  • Tap on ‘Erase iPhone’ button

During this process your iPhone will display the Apple logo and a progress bar. The process may take few minutes to several hours based on the version of your iPhone and the amount of data on your iPhone.

If you’ve jailbroken your iPhone then it is advisable to erase all your iPhone’s data and settings by plugging it your computer and clicking on the “Restore” button.

Unlink/Unregister your iPhone:

It may be also be a good idea to unregister your iPhone from Apple’s website so that it is no longer linked to your Apple ID.

  1. Go to:
  2. Log in if not already logged in.
  3. Click on “edit products”
  4. Click on the “x” to the right of the product.
  5. Click “Unregister”

To be on the safe side, you should also unlink your iPhone from services like Dropbox, Pandora etc..

That’s it! As you can see, it is very simple to prepare your iPhone for resale. If you’re planning to sell your iPhone, be sure to check out the best places to trade-in your iPhone.

If you’ve any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments section below.

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  • Kao Saephan

    Thanks for the article. I actually didn’t even think about the devices I had registered with Apple. I just checked and removed a few ipods and old iphones that were still listed on my account that I had sold to people over the years.

  • Miranda Mandlate

    thanks for the article, really useful…

  • Android Developer

    Great information…thanks for sharing!

  • genXhippie

    Good stuff.

  • iPhone Locksmith

    Come on, real security doesn’t hit the equivalent of a delete button and expect your data to be wiped out. You MUST zero out that section of your phone’s drive or your data will still be retreavable. For those jail broken use something like iWipe to be sure your data really is removed.

    • nah

      the article’s method is perfectly adequate for making sure your brother’s friend can buy your old phone without the danger of them seeing your embarrassing texts

      • NuMoo

        No, they are not.
        Just like you can retrive deleted info from a hard drive. You can retrieve info from a iPhone or smart phone. Nothing is gone for good.

        Search for article:
        “Cell phone warning: Deleted personal information often left behind” WTHR com

        to read more

  • wolverinemarky

    Im planning on selling my iPhone 4s jailbroken so I should restore it first after i have done a backup and then rejailbreak and it will be ready for sale? Also thanks again about devices being registered I had my iphone 3G my iphone 4 and a few other items registered to my apple id

  • Mystic

    I recently sold my iPad 2 and followed the erase all content route but didn’t stick long enough to see it through. Days later I kept receiving iMessages that clearly weren’t meant for me. My question is does iMessage work with UDID in case of iPad delivery or is it just that the buyer didn’t let the iPad complete the erase procedure?

  • Wander Garcia

    Great tips.

  • GreenBayFan

    With an ATT iPhone is it recommended to remove the sim card before trading it in???

  • james

    my iphone is 3g 16gb, just locked the screen without any damage? how to go about it

  • Pgsandi

    If my iPhone was water damaged and i can’t power on will someone still be able to retrieve my personal data?

  • ad

    I followed these instructions. The person that bought it now can’t register the phone on iTunes. They called Apple support and Apple said that I “did it wrong” and it would cost $150 to fix.

  • calinere

    I found a place which seems to be specialized at erasing iPhone data, perhaps it will help you!

  • guest

    What do I do if I cannot remember my passcode?