A clean slate can work wonders in life, especially when it comes to the numerous gadgets and gizmos we use on a daily basis, like the iPhone. Although performing a factory reset of your smartphone may not sound ideal — it essentially wipes your device of any and all personal settings and data you’ve acquired through the years — it’s occasionally necessary when troubleshooting your device for software errors or when retaining your private information is of the utmost importance, such as during a sales transaction or repair.
Although it may seem a daunting process, restoring any iPhone to its original factory settings, whether it’s an iPhone 7 Plus or an iPhone 5S, is a simple a process that requires little more than your phone and five minutes of your time. Once completed, you’ll quickly notice that all of your phone’s data and content — songs, videos, contacts, photos, calendar info, etc.– have automatically been deleted, thus safeguarding your personal information and preventing it from falling into the wrong hands should you sell your device.
Scroll down for our quick guide on how to factory reset an iPhone, so you can ditch the data before passing on your device. The exact process for doing so may vary slightly depending on which version of iOS your iPhone is running, but it’s essentially the same regardless if you’re performing a factory reset using iTunes or your untethered phone. Furthermore, feel free to follow the same directions when performing a factory reset on any of your iOS devices.
How to factory reset an iPhone using iCloud
Whether you have an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, an iPhone SE, an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, or an older model, like the iPhone 4, 4S, 5, or 5S, the easiest way to factory reset your iPhone is to use iCloud.
Step 1: Prepare your iPhone for restoration
Go into your iPhone Settings menu — Settings > iCloud — and turn on the items you’d like to back up. We recommend you choose to back up almost everything, but especially your Photos, Mail, Contacts, and Notes. Once you have chosen what you would like to back up (and keep in mind that anything you do not back up will be lost forever once you perform the reset), scroll down until you find the Backup button with the green icon. Click it and turn on iCloud Backup with the toggle switch. Then, if you’re connected to Wi-Fi, you will be able to Back up now. Keep in mind that it will take a few minutes.
For more detailed instructions, check out our guide on how to use iCloud to back up your iPhone.
Alternatively, you can also still rely on a PC a little bit. Connect your iPhone to your computer via USB and click the gray Back Up Now button when viewing the Summary tab for your given device in iTunes.
Step 2: Access the Reset menu
Tap the main Settings icon when viewing the home screen, select General on the resulting menu, and tap the Reset button at the bottom of the resulting page.
Step 3: Reset your iPhone
Tap the blue Erase All Content and Settings option near the top, followed by the red Erase iPhone option in the resulting pop-up window to confirm your decision.
Step 4: Restore your iPhone
Once the reset process is complete — a process that may take up to several minutes — check to ensure your phone has been restored to its original factory settings. If done correctly, you’ll once again be presented with the iOS Setup Assistant upon startup, from which you can then restore your phone from a backup or continue the process as if you were setting it up anew.
You’ll have to log in and set up your iPhone from scratch once it has been factory reset. The prompts will ask you whether you want to restore from your iCloud account, set up a completely fresh phone without any of your previous settings, or use iTunes and a PC to put your old content onto the phone again.
If you’re interested in what all the iPhone Reset options mean, then skip to the last page of this article. If you want to perform a factory reset using iTunes, follow the directions on the next page.