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How to remove viruses and malware from your iPhone or iPad

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While Apple’s highly contained ecosystem has a reputation for malware resistance, that doesn’t mean it’s completely immune. Devices like iPhones and iPads can still experience viruses or hacking attempts, especially if a user downloads a file with malware or selects a hostile link.

Difficulty

Easy

Duration

15 minutes

What You Need

  • iPhone or iPad

If you think that some kind of malware may have been downloaded to your iOS or iPadOS device, it’s a good idea to take immediate action. Follow our steps to clear your iPhone or iPad of troublesome viruses.

Download updates and restart

Updates can patch vulnerabilities and help deal with the latest malware attacking Apple platforms, so you should always start with this step. Even if you have automatic updates turned on, there’s still a chance they aren’t download because your Apple device may need a specific connection or timeframe to do it. Here’s how to make sure updates are applied.

Step 1: Head to the Settings app. Here, select the General section from the menu.

Choose Software Update in General.
screenshot / Digital Trends

Step 2: Select Software Update.

Select Download and Install on Apple Device.
screenshot / Digital Trends

Step 3: Download and Install the latest update. This can take some time, but eventually your device will restart.

Step 4: If there are no updates, perform a manual reboot as an alternative.

Clear your browsing history

Deleting your browser history can clear up performance issues and ensure that viruses don’t return. Here’s how to do it on Safari — it’s similar on other browsers as well.

Step 1: Open Settings once more and scroll down to your apps to select Safari.

Clear Safari History.
screenshot / Digital Trends

Step 2: Scroll down in Safari to find the option to Clear History and Website Data. Select it and wait for Safari to complete the process.

Choose to remove the app.
screenshot / Digital Trends

Remove unknown apps

Your next important step is to go through all the apps in your phone and remove those that you don’t need, or that you don’t recognize. Some malware will automatically upload unwanted apps, or new, untrustworthy apps could be the source of viruses and should be removed.

Removing apps is very easy on iPhones or iPads. Simply give the app in question a long press, and then select Remove and confirm. Do this with all suspicious apps and any recently downloaded apps you don’t need.

Restore to a previous version using an iCloud backup

If you’ve tried everything and are still experiencing suspicious signs like unwanted downloads, unexplained account charges, lots of crashing, etc., then there’s another step you should take. You can restore your Apple device to a previous version by using your iCloud backup, which is typically enabled during setup. This is especially important if you’ve confirmed that there’s malware on your device, because it’s one of the only ways to really be sure you’ve removed it.

Step 1: Head back to Settings, and select General to proceed. Scroll down until you find Transfer or Reset iPhone/iPad and select it.

Choose to Transfer or Reset iPad or iPhone.
screenshot / Digital Trends

Step 2: Choose Erase All Content and Settings. Follow the instructions, but try to avoid creating a brand new iCloud Backup. The goal is to go to a backup from before any malware was downloaded, so choose Erase Now at this screen.

Select Erase All Content and Settings.
screenshot / Digital Trends

Step 3: When your iPhone/iPad is finished erasing, it will prompt you to set up again and give you an option to Restore from iCloud Backup. Choose this, and your device will restore to an earlier version. It’s a good idea to plug it in and give it time for this process.

Step 4: If you don’t have an iCloud Backup, this process will restore your device to factory settings and delete all your data. Only do this if you’ve tried everything else, and it’s clear a virus is still crashing your system.

If you want to make it less likely that your Apple device faces trouble in the future, take a look at our guide on the best antivirus apps you can get for your iPhone.

Tyler Lacoma
Former Digital Trends Contributor
If it can be streamed, voice-activated, made better with an app, or beaten by mashing buttons, Tyler's into it. When he's not…
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