Of course, the great thing about the iPhone is after your contract is up, you can simply turn on WIFI and AIRPLANE mode and you have a “free” iPod Touch that plays any video, any music and any app but if you decide to pass it on or re-sell it, here’s how to clean and wipe your iPhone.
THE FAMILY PASS ALONG
Passing along to a family member is the easiest. You just have to “surface” wipe out your data since you’re not particularly worried about anyone cracking open the hard drive to unearth secret data.
If this person shares your computer login and everything resides in the same iTunes account – then it’s the simplest.
First question involves your PHOTO ALBUMS. Same photos, different photos? make or modify the Photo Albums you want to load (if you’re going to load them all, then, you’re set).
Now launch iTunes.
RENAME the iPhone under DEVICES in iTunes.
Then just start manually making changes in iTunes with each TAB. Sync which APPS? Calendar sync? Bookmarks?
The only other thing you have to do is go in the MAIL setting on the iPhone, select each mail account, scroll down to the bottom and tap DELETE ACCOUNT.
Or if you have similar accounts (Gmail, ISP email, etc … it might be easier just to modify-update settings to your new user than wiping everything clean since you have to input EVERYTHING in again and if it’s working, might not want to go too far as the email settings are the wonkiest so why do all that work when you are changing a little info in email?).
But if you want to wipe, then if you have multiple mail accounts, repeat with each account.
Then SYNC and manually modify the iPhone until it’s all yours.
Now, if you’re switching to a new login user but in the same family, you can simply reset the iPhone to the “beginning.”
Tap the RESET button at the bottom of GENERAL.
It will ask you if you want to be certain that you want to wipe the phone entirely.
It will ask you TWICE and inform you that it will take 2 hours. Most likely, it will take about 45 minutes but keep that in mind.
This will wipe the phone entirely and resets it to the iPhone as if it were out of the box. Again, this is a scary setting so if you’re passing to a family member, it might be less scary just to manually adjust things. For instance, if you have lots of photos in your camera roll, run iPhoto first, after you drag your camera roll to an album (new or old) it will ask if you want to delete the originals in the iPhone so here’s your chance to clean off the iPhone in one swipe but you’ll have double saved all the photos just in case).
You will spend a little more time futzing with the settings and files but you do not lose the iPhone for an hour while it’s deleting everything AND if the FIRST window that requires your iPhone to “reactivate” frightens you a little.
SELLING PHONE TO FRIEND
If you’re passing the iPhone/selling the phone to a friend and you’re not too worried about them cracking it open to peer at any files you might have erased.
Go to GENERAL and scroll to RESET.
Click YES and YES and in about an hour, you’ll be presented with a “unactivated” iPhone. When they plug into their iTunes, they will start from scratch to restart with a ‘Clean” iPhone.
The iPhone has been wiped clean – no apps, no movies, no email, etc, etc … in theory, a skilled iPhone guy could “unlock” the phone and see remnants of files but again, you should know your friend and if you think they might do this and whether you care … so if you want the most secure method, read on.
If you are re-selling to a stranger or even to a friend but you’d rather they cannot uncover anything – and want the cleanest way – here goes – it will take you about an hour of hands on work.
Plug into iTunes as you normally would.
Starting from the furthest right – start “unsyncing” files and settings.
Now, select MANUALLY SYNC Music & Video. It ask you if you want to sync now – it will uncouple and erase most of the media from your iPhone. Don’t worry, everything is still in your LIBRARY in iTunes, it’s only erased from your iPhone. (well, technically, not erased, just ‘covered up,’ hence all the extra work).
Continue unsyncing through the tabs.
You should see at the bottom of iTunes you have much more space on your iPhone.
Once it has finished “syncing,” (or unsyncing as the actual case), then manually look through your phone to make sure the photo albums and photo rolls are empty. If not, you can manually erase your photo roll photos or uncheck the photo albums and SYNC again.
Then begin DELETING your email accounts (see above).
You should find your iPhone looks pretty much like new – only the Apple apps, no photos, no bookmarks, etc …
Now, you want to re-write over the EMPTY SPACE on your iPhone so if someone decides to “recover” files on your iPhone, they cannot find the remnants of your email, photos, etc, etc … if you don’t have large movie files (don’t use movie files you bought from iTunes – it jas your email and account name embedded in there) … just start dragging into your iPhone (now you have set to manually manage music & movies, you can do this) … just rename the movie to keep loading it. If you don’t have large movie files, grab a CD and rip it to AIFF. This is the the largest lossless setting – each minute is about a GB so if you have a 16 GB iPhone, you only need about 16 minutes of music – though you really only need about 14 minutes of music. You probably don’t need to fill your iPhone to the absolute max but you can if you want to.
Now, drag these AIFF music files in and you can try and get it to as close to 16 GB as possible.
Now, when done, (this might take 45 minutes but you can walk away now).
SYNC and then remove iPhone when iTunes says it’s ok to.
Now, on the iPhone, scroll to GENERAL, TAP and select RESET. Tap YES & YES.
It will take 45 minutes to wipe but again, you only have to check it when it’s done.
Now, take the SIM tool and remove your SIM card.
Close and you have a clean iPhone.
Why did you load 8 or 16 GB of movies and/or music and THEN erase it all anyway?
Because now if they hack to view and “restore” files on your iPhone hard drive, all they will find are possible remnants of movies and a giant music file.
It’s NOT overkill if you sell to a stranger. It is a hassle but this is the safest way as of now.
But again, if it’s just to a family member or to a trusted friend, you can either just wipe it manually or wipe it via RESET but don’t have to rewrite over all your files.
Or just fill it with music and movies and use it at work as an iPod Touch