How to wipe data off an iPhone

How to wipe data off an iPhone

Summary: In reponse to reports that personally identifiable private information can be easily swiped from used iPhones sold on eBay, the tireless Rich Mogull has cooked up a nifty way to wipe data from iPhones.Mogull admits his process is "not perfect" but it does look to be an easy way to overload the iPhone with music files to force an overwrite of the device's storage.

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How to wipe data off an iPhoneIn reponse to reports that personally identifiable private information can be easily swiped from used iPhones sold on eBay, the tireless Rich Mogull has cooked up a nifty way to wipe data from iPhones.

Mogull admits his process is "not perfect" but it does look to be an easy way to overload the iPhone with music files to force an overwrite of the device's storage.   The Securosis.com consultant recommends the steps are followed multiple times, with multiple music playlists to make sure the device is wiped properly.

Here are Mogull's six-step recommendations:

  1. Restore the iPhone from within iTunes.
  2. On the "Info" tab, un-check all options so you don’t synchronize calendars, email, bookmarks, and contacts.
  3. On the Photos, Podcasts, and Video tabs, uncheck "Sync..."
  4. Create 3 big playlists at large as the storage capacity of your iPhone.
  5. On the Music tab, select the first of your 3 playlists to sync. Make sure the storage bar at the bottom looks full after syncing.
  6. Sync your iPhone, change to the next playlist, sync again, and repeat one last time.

In the comments, someone also suggests:

After restoring your iPhone, jailbreak it and install OpenSSH. Then ssh into the phone and load up the /root folder with meaningless files. Whatever data stored there previously will get overwritten. Do this in conjunction with Mogull’s method to be completely thorough.

If you're preparing that iPhone for sale on Craigslist or eBay ahead of the coming 3G version, the recommendations above can only help.

ALSO SEE: Mogull leaves Gartner and Mogull's guest editorial on how desktop virtualization will save your company from Generation Y.

* Image  source: nerichards Flickr photostream (Creative Commons 2.0)

Topics: Storage, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility

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4 comments
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  • Or wait for iPhone II...

    If you are not looking to sell right away, wait for iPhone II
    because this is an announced feature--remote wiping of all
    data.
    comp_indiana
    • Will work with all iPhones

      This should, BTW, work with all iPhones, and is announced to
      be a free upgrade (if it's like the last one it will cost $20 for
      iPod touch upgrade however.)
      comp_indiana
  • So, the "innovative" UI doesn't have a 'Master Reset' function?

    Who said "Form over..."
    Scrat
  • RE: How to wipe data off an iPhone

    Try "Will It Blend":
    http://www.willitblend.com/videos.aspx?type=unsafe&video=iphone

    This will guarantee no one will ever read the data... also no one will ever use the iPhone.

    Since the iPhone uses a flash RAM for main storage then you should restore in iTunes and then write a full capacity of meaningless data and restore with iTunes. Do this several times if you wish but since the main storage is flash RAM and it doesn't have any "residual state" like a hard drive domain.
    phatkat