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How to Completely Clear the Data From Your Phone

Maybe you bought a new phone and your old phone is destined for your eleven-year-old. Maybe you’re selling your phone. Maybe you’re going to stick your old phone in a drawer somewhere as a backup but still want the piece of mind a clean phone brings. Whatever the reason, completely clearing your phone’s data is easy. We’ll walk you through it.


First, you want to back up your data. There are two ways to do this on the iPhone. If you want to back up to your iCloud account, first ensure that you’re connected to WiFi. Then go to Settings. Then go to iCloud. Then go to iCloud Back Up. Then tap Back Up Now.

Alternatively, you can back up to your computer. First, plug your phone in. Then, open up iTunes and select your device. In the Summery section, which is immediately under Settings, there is a button that reads Back Up Now. Click it. You can also restore your backup from this section.

Next, unpair any devices you have connected to your phone, like an Apple Watch.

After that, sign out of iCloud. As before, you can find iCloud in your Settings.

If your next phone won’t be an iPhone, you should turn off iMessage. Go to Settings, then Messages. Toggle iMessage to Off.

Finally, we’re ready to clear your data. Go to Settings, then General. All the way at the bottom you’ll find Reset. From here, you can tap Erase All Content and Settings. Obviously, be really sure before you do this.


As with an iPhone, you’ll want to back up your Android before you wipe it. Simply go to Settings, then tap Account Sync, then Sync Now. You can also backup your data to Google Drive by going to System, then Back Up, then Back Up to Google Drive.

Now that you’re all backed up, erasing your data is easy. Go to System. Then tap Reset. Finally, tap Factory Data Reset. Your phone will be returned to how it was just out of the box.

How to Kid-Prep Your Phone

If you’re selling your phone, congratulations—you’re all set. If you’re giving your newly wiped phone to your child, we recommend a few extra steps. Make sure you have access to their iCloud or Android account, make sure you help them back up their data, and talk to them about good security habits. Passwords, updates, and screen locks are good security habits they need to master. Next, help them put their emergency contact information on their phone’s lock screen. Finally, if you’re thinking of putting any monitoring software on your kid’s new phone, now is the time to do so.

The Bottom Line

In the excitement of getting a new phone, it’s important to remember that good security means cleaning up the old one. Your phone contains passwords, financial information, and all kinds of data. Don’t leave it—delete it.