Is everything erased from iPhone?

When it comes to erasing data from an iPhone, there are a few key things to understand. The short answer is no – not everything is erased by performing a factory reset or wiping an iPhone. However, most data and personal information can be erased by properly resetting the device.

What Gets Erased During an iPhone Reset?

Performing a factory reset or wipe on an iPhone will erase most data stored on the device. This includes:

  • Contacts
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Music
  • Apps and App Data
  • Messages
  • Call History
  • Safari Browser History and Data
  • Notes
  • Calendars
  • Reminders
  • Voice Memos
  • Health Data
  • Keychain Passwords
  • Home Screen Layout and Settings

Essentially, any personal data, apps, media, and settings stored on the iPhone will be deleted. This returns the device to a clean, factory-fresh state.

What Data Remains After an iPhone Reset?

While most personal data is erased, some system data will remain even after a factory reset. Data that is not deleted includes:

  • iOS System Files
  • Default Apps that Come Pre-Installed
  • iPhone Firmware
  • Face ID/Touch ID Settings
  • Apple Pay Cards (unless removed during reset process)
  • iPhone Activation Lock

System files, firmware, and pre-installed apps do not contain personal data and remain to keep the iPhone functioning properly. The activation lock also remains as a security measure.

When is Data Permanently Deleted From an iPhone?

Even after a factory reset, some data like photos may still be recoverable using data recovery software until it gets overwritten by new data. Only when the iPhone is completely wiped clean and restored using recovery mode is data permanently unrecoverable. This removes all system data.

Restoring an iPhone using recovery mode and connecting it to iTunes is the most thorough way to wipe an iPhone. It will permanently destroy all data by overwriting the encryption keys that protect the data. This makes previous data irrecoverable.

How to Fully Erase an iPhone Using Recovery Mode

To permanently destroy all iPhone data with no possibility of recovery, these steps can be followed:

  1. Backup iPhone data you wish to keep elsewhere first, like iCloud or a computer.
  2. Turn off Find My iPhone if enabled under Settings.
  3. Plug iPhone into computer and launch iTunes.
  4. Hold down Home button and connect USB cable to enter recovery mode.
  5. In iTunes, restore the iPhone using the Restore iPhone option.
  6. Set up the iPhone as new after the restore rather than using a backup.

This will do a full factory restore, wiping all previous data. New encryption keys are generated, making any older data irrecoverable, even with advanced forensic tools.

Other Ways to Erase an iPhone

In addition to a full factory restore, there are a few other methods to erase an iPhone:

  • Factory Reset – Also known as “Erase All Content and Settings”. Resets all settings but some data may be recoverable.
  • Remote Wipe – Erase the device remotely using Find My iPhone. Similar effects to factory reset.
  • Update Software – Installing a software update will overwrite data but not as thoroughly as a full restore.
  • Restore Using iCloud – Can erase and restore from an iCloud backup which retains some activation data.

For maximum data erasure, using iTunes to fully restore the iPhone in recovery mode is most effective.

What If I Sold or Gave Away My iPhone Without Wiping It?

If you sold, donated, or gave away your used iPhone without wiping it, any personal data and accounts may still be accessible to the new user. To remotely wipe the device, you can use Find My iPhone if enabled:

  1. Login to and click Find iPhone.
  2. Select the device you want to wipe.
  3. Choose Erase iPhone and confirm.

This will remotely factory reset the iPhone and erase your data. However, it’s still best to fully wipe devices manually before transferring them to be certain all data is removed.

Can iPhone Data be Recovered After Wiping?

If an iPhone is simply factory reset, some data may potentially be recovered using iPhone data recovery software until it gets overwritten. However, performing a complete restore using recovery mode and iTunes will permanently erase data.

iPhone data recovery software looks for traces of deleted files that have not yet been overwritten. But restoring in recovery mode generates new encryption keys, making previous data irrecoverable. So data cannot be recovered if securely wiped in this manner.

What About Deleted Files and iOS Trash?

When files are deleted on an iPhone, they get moved to a protected area of the storage called the “trash”. This allows recently deleted files to be recovered if needed. An iPhone reset will clear the trash and make those files unrecoverable.

However, the trash is only a temporary storage place. Over time, deleted files in the trash are permanently overwritten as the storage space is reused by new data. Once this happens, deleted files cannot be recovered.

Can Apps or Email Accounts Remain After Resetting iPhone?

In most cases, all apps and accounts will be signed out after wiping an iPhone. However, in some circumstances, apps or accounts can remain on a reset iPhone.

If you wipe an iPhone but restore from an iCloud or iTunes backup during setup, some apps and accounts may stay signed in if that data was in the backup. To ensure a clean slate, set up the iPhone as new after wiping it.

Also, some app data stored in iCloud like game progress or documents may sync back down after reinstalling the app. To prevent this, uninstall apps before wiping the device and avoid using old backups.

Is iPhone Storage Encrypted?

All iPhones use encryption to protect data. iPhones with an A7 chip or newer use full-disk encryption as well as file-level encryption.

Full-disk encryption means the entire storage contents are encrypted and protected by a key linked to the device passcode. This makes data inaccessible without the passcode. Performing a full factory restore deletes this key, preventing recovery.

So between encryption and factory resetting, all personal iPhone data can be securely erased if desired. There should be noconcern about others accessing private data on the device after properly wiping it.

Can Wiped iPhone Data be Recovered by Apple?

No, Apple has no way to help recover data from an iPhone that has been completely wiped and factory reset. This includes using recovery mode to restore the device.

Apple can only recover data from devices that are still actively configured. Their tools rely on accessing system data that gets erased during a proper factory reset. So tell customers their data is unrecoverable if they reset their iPhone.

What If I Accidentally Deleted Important Data?

If you accidentally deleted important iPhone data like photos or contacts and have not done a full reset since, recovery software may still be able to restore recently deleted files. Some options include:

Recovery Software Details
iMobie PhoneRescue Recovers 35+ data types without backups needed.
EaseUS MobiSaver Retrieves lost data and repairs some corrupt photos.
iMyFone D-Back Easy recovery for iOS and Android devices.

But if you’ve done a full factory reset already, there is no way to recover deleted files from an iPhone. So be sure to have proper backups before wiping a device fully.

Can You Recover Data From Lost or Stolen iPhones?

If your iPhone is lost or stolen, recovering your data depends on the situation:

  • If Find My iPhone was enabled, you can remotely wipe the device to erase data.
  • If the thief resets the iPhone, data cannot be recovered with a remote wipe.
  • Use Lost Mode to lock, track, and erase stolen devices if still configured.
  • Enable Find My iPhone on any new devices and check location periodically.

As long as Find My iPhone remains active, you can help secure data on a lost or stolen iPhone. But if the device gets wiped and reset by the thief, there is no way to recover that data.

Preventing Data Recovery After Selling iPhone

When selling or giving away your used iPhone, you want to be sure no personal data is recoverable by the new owner. Follow these best practices:

  1. Sign out of iCloud, Apple ID, iMessage, and other accounts.
  2. Backup data like photos you want to keep elsewhere.
  3. Erase the device fully with a factory reset, not just deleting content.
  4. List the device as sold in Find My iPhone if enabled.
  5. Remove SIM card and SD cards from the iPhone before selling.

Doing this will help prevent the next owner from accessing any of your personal data or signed-in accounts.

Factory Resetting an iPhone Before Recycling

Before recycling an old iPhone, be sure to give it a factory reset to wipe your data. Follow these steps:

  1. Backup any data you want to keep first.
  2. Turn off Find My iPhone.
  3. Sign out of iCloud, Apple ID, iMessage, FaceTime, and other accounts.
  4. Reset the iPhone to factory settings in Settings.
  5. Remove SIM card from iPhone.

This will clean all personal data off the device before recycling it. iPhones contain sensitive components, so recycling properly is also important.

Checking iPhone Storage After Factory Reset

After completely wiping and resetting an iPhone, you may notice the available storage space is less than expected. This is normal.

Even after resetting, the iPhone will still take up a few GB of space minimum. This is used by the base iOS operating system, built-in apps, and cached files needed for proper functionality.

Typically 5-10GB of storage will be used right away before restoring backups or installing new apps. This space cannot be reclaimed since critical system data occupies it.


While most personal data is erased when factory resetting an iPhone, some system data will remain and the device will continue using several GB of storage. For permanent data erasure, a full restore must be done using recovery mode.

In summary:

  • Factory reset erases most personal data but leaves system files and activation lock.
  • Restoring in recovery mode wipes all data by deleting encryption keys.
  • Deleted files can be recovered with software until storage is overwritten.
  • Find My iPhone allows remote wipe if iPhone lost or stolen.
  • Be sure to wipe old iPhones fully before selling, donating, or recycling.

Understanding how to fully erase an iPhone is important for both security and privacy. Performing a complete factory restore using iTunes will permanently destroy data when desired. But accidents happen, so make sure to backup important iPhone data regularly as well.

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