Securely erasing the iPhone
Posted: February 8, 2013
If you are looking to sell your iPhone, or give it to somone as a gift, you should
probably ensure that your personal data does not remain on the iPhone. Most would think
that a restore via iTunes would take care of this. But it does not! It has been proven
more than once, and by more than one person - one of them a programmer with deep routes in
the iPhone community, and the other a state police detective using a forensics data
retrieval kit built by that same programmer - that your personal data survives a restore.
In the case of the detective, he purchased his iPhone via Apple directly (refurbished).
This entire process will takes anywhere from just a few minutes (for iPhone 3G S and
newer) to a couple hours for older iPhones.
You can read more about this process at Apple's support forums here:
Launch the Settings application. Then press General, then Reset. Press Erase All Content
Press Erase iPhone. Press Erase iPhone one more time.
You'll see the Apple logo and empty status bar for a few seconds (at least I did on the
iPhone 5). Then you'll see the spinning wheel for a couple minutes.
If that wheel is still spinning 10 minutes later you need to disconnect the USB cable from
your iPhone and then press and hold the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button until the
iPhone shuts off. Hold the Home button, and plug it in via USB to your Mac and iTunes
will identify the iPhone as being in recovery mode. You will also see the connect to
iTunes graphic on the iPhone.
If you have the firmware file you want to restore to already on your Mac, then just press
the option key on your Mac and click the restore button and select whatever firmware you'd
like to put back on the iPhone.