How to Factory Reset Your iPhone or iPad: Complete Guide

Over 85% of smartphone users have never performed a factory reset on their devices, potentially missing out on a simple fix for various issues or not knowing how to safely clear their data before selling. If your or is acting up, running slow, or you're planning to pass it on, mastering the art of a factory reset can feel like wielding a magic wand. This guide will walk you through the steps to give your device that fresh-out-of-the-box vibe again, ensuring all your data is wiped clean and your gadget runs smoothly. No tech wizardry is required—just straightforward steps to reboot and refresh.

Key Takeaways

  • Always Backup Your Data: Before initiating a factory reset, ensure all your important data is backed up to iCloud or your computer to prevent any loss of photos, documents, and app data.
  • Understand the Process: Familiarize yourself with the steps involved in a factory reset by reviewing the step-by-step guide to avoid any surprises during the process.
  • Security is Crucial: Pay special attention to security considerations, such as logging out of all accounts and disabling Find My iPhone/iPad, to protect your personal information.
  • Troubleshooting is Your Friend: If you encounter issues during the reset process, refer to the troubleshooting section for common problems and their solutions.
  • Consider Alternatives: Before deciding on a factory reset, explore alternatives that may solve your issue without needing to erase all data.
  • Preparation Leads to Success: A smooth reset process begins with thorough preparation, including charging your device and ensuring a stable internet connection for restoring data post-reset.

Understanding Factory Reset


A factory reset is a powerful tool. It returns your iPhone or iPad to its original state. This means all data and settings are wiped clean. But why do this? Let's explore.

First, it helps to know there are two types of resets: soft and hard. A soft reset is like restarting your device—it doesn't erase data but can fix minor issues. A hard reset, or factory reset, clears everything off the device.

There are several reasons you might need a factory reset:

  • Your device is sluggish or has persistent software problems.
  • You're planning to sell your iPhone or iPad and want to remove personal information.
  • You've forgotten your passcode and need access again.

Understanding these scenarios ensures you use a factory reset wisely.


Before you proceed with resetting your device, consider the risks:

  1. Loss of unsaved data: Everything not backed up will be gone forever.
  2. Potential logout from all accounts: You'll need to log back into apps and services.
  3. There's also a risk of software issues if the process isn't done correctly.

To minimize these risks, always back up important files first. Also, ensure you know how to properly perform a factory reset.


Despite potential risks, there are clear benefits:

  • Improved device performance: Over time, iPhones and iPads can become cluttered with unused apps and files which slow them down—resetting clears this clutter.
  • Removal of personal data before selling: Ensuring that none of your private information falls into someone else's hands is crucial when handing over an old device.
  • Fixes for persistent software glitches: Sometimes the only solution for ongoing issues is starting fresh with a clean slate.

These advantages make factory resetting an essential procedure in certain situations.

Preparing for Reset

Before you dive into how to factory reset your iPhone or iPad, it's crucial to prepare your device properly. This preparation ensures that you don't lose important data and that the reset process goes smoothly.

Backup Data

The first step is backing up your data. You can use either iCloud or iTunes for this purpose. It's a simple but vital task.

To back up with iCloud, connect your device to Wi-Fi. Then go to Settings, tap on your name at the top, select iCloud, and then iCloud Backup. Hit “Back Up Now.” For iTunes backup, connect your device to a computer, open iTunes, select the device icon in the top left corner, and click “Back Up Now.”

After backing up, make sure to verify that the backup completed successfully. Go into settings for iCloud or check iTunes' latest backups list.

For added security during this process consider encrypting your backup. This option is available in iTunes by selecting “Encrypt [device] backup” and setting a password.

Sign Out Accounts

Next step: sign out of all accounts connected to the device.

Start with logging out from ID, iCloud, and iTunes & App Store under settings. Just tap on each service name followed by “Sign Out.”

You should also disconnect third-party apps linked with these services if possible.

Lastly ensure iMessage and FaceTime are signed out too under their respective sections in settings.

This helps prevent issues related after resetting where devices might remain linked or information could get accidentally restored from cloud services not intended for reuse immediately.

Disable Features

Before proceeding further disable several key features starting with Find My iPhone/iPad which can block resetting processes if left active.

Go into Settings > [your name] > Find My > Find My iPhone/iPad and toggle off.

Then turn off any passcodes along Touch/Face ID within Settings > Face ID & Passcode/Touch ID & Passcode depending on what model you have.

Wrap this phase by deactivating location services found under Privacy in settings as well just be thorough ensuring nothing interferes during reset operation later on.

Initiating Factory Reset

Settings Path

To start a factory reset on your iPhone or iPad, you first need to go into the Settings app. Once there, navigate through General > Reset. This path will take you to where you can begin the process.

It's important to understand what each option does before making a selection. Look for the ‘Erase All Content and Settings' option. Selecting this will completely wipe your device, returning it to its original state when it was first unboxed.

Familiarizing yourself with these options ensures that you don't accidentally choose the wrong one. Each serves a different purpose depending on what needs resetting.

Reset Options

Understanding the differences between all reset options is crucial before proceeding with a factory reset. These settings offer varying levels of erasure and restoration.

  • Reset All Settings: This resets system settings like wallpaper and Wi-Fi networks but keeps personal data intact.
  • Erase All Content and Settings: For a full factory reset, choose this option. It removes everything from apps to contacts, returning your device to its initial setup state.

Knowing when to use ‘Reset All Settings' instead of ‘Erase All Content and Settings' is essential if looking only to refresh settings without losing data.

Here are some scenarios where choosing between these two might come into play:

  • If selling or giving away your iPhone/iPad: Use Erase All Content and Settings.
  • If troubleshooting issues related only to system preferences: Opt for Reset All Settings.

Choosing correctly ensures that your device's content is managed appropriately during the reset process.

Step-by-Step Guide

Open Settings

To start, find the Settings icon on your home screen or in the app library. It's essential that you're logged in as the device owner or administrator. This ensures you have the needed permissions to make changes.

Before proceeding, take a moment to review all settings. This step is crucial. It helps confirm that you're ready for a reset. Remember, resetting will erase everything.

Erase All Content

After reviewing your settings, it's time for the main action: erasing all content and settings from your iPhone or iPad.

First, tap General within Settings. Scroll down and select Reset. Here, choose Erase All Content and Settings. A prompt will appear asking for confirmation since this step is irreversible once started.

Once confirmed, ensure not to interrupt the process until completion. It might take some time depending on how much data there is to erase.

After Reset Actions

Setup Process

Once you've completed the factory reset of your iPhone or iPad, as discussed in the previous section, it's time to get your device up and running again. The setup process is straightforward but crucial for getting back to using your device.

After turning on your device, you'll see on-screen instructions. These guide you through setting up your iPhone or iPad from scratch. You have two main choices here: setting up as a new device or restoring from a backup. Both options have their benefits depending on what you're looking for.

Setting up as a new means starting fresh. It can be liberating if you wanted to declutter digitally. However, restoring from backup brings back all those cherished photos and important documents without extra effort. During this phase, re-entering your Apple ID and password is also necessary to ensure that the device belongs to you.

Restore Backup

If you chose to restore from a backup during the initial setup post-reset, there are some steps and considerations to keep in mind.

Firstly, decide where your backup resides – iCloud or iTunes? Selecting the correct source is vital because it contains all data and settings saved before the factory reset. Once chosen, follow prompts carefully to ensure successful restoration.

It's essential that throughout this process, your device stays connected either via Wi-Fi (for iCloud) or USB cable (for iTunes) until restoration completes fully. This ensures no data loss occurs mid-way due to disconnection.


  • Choose wisely between setting up as new or restoring.
  • Keep login details like Apple ID handy.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Failed Reset

Sometimes, your iPhone or iPad doesn't reset properly. You might see error messages or notice that nothing has changed. This signals a failed reset.

First, check for signs like apps and data still being present when they shouldn't be. Error messages may also pop up, indicating the reset didn't go through as planned.

If this happens, try the reset process again. Make sure you're following the correct steps closely. If it fails repeatedly, it's not something to ignore.

Seeking professional help is wise if you've tried multiple times without success. Sometimes, underlying issues need an expert's touch.

A common issue post-reset is your device getting stuck on the Apple logo. It can be frustrating but there are ways to fix it.

The first step is a force restart of your device. This often resolves the issue without needing further action.

If that doesn't work:

  1. Connect to iTunes (or Finder on macOS Catalina and later).
  2. Put your device in recovery mode.
  3. Follow prompts to restore your iPhone or iPad.

This usually gets things back on track if a simple restart doesn't help.


  • If these steps don't resolve the problem,
  • And you've given them each a fair shot,

It's time to contact Apple support for assistance.

After dealing with these problems, remember what we discussed about “After Reset Actions”. Ensuring you follow those steps correctly helps prevent issues from cropping up again in the future.

Security Considerations

Data Protection

Factory resetting your iPhone or iPad is a powerful tool for troubleshooting. It also ensures your personal data doesn't fall into the wrong hands. Before you reset, it's crucial to remove all personal information from the device. This process wipes out photos, messages, and apps.

To add an extra layer of security, encrypting your data before backing it up is wise. This way, even if someone gains access to your backup files, they can't easily read them. Use iTunes or iCloud for encryption as both provide options to secure your backups.

After the factory reset, don't forget to re-enable all security features on your device immediately. Set up a strong passcode and activate Touch ID or Face ID again. These steps ensure that only you can access your iPhone or iPad post-reset.

Post-Reset Security

Once you've reset your device, updating passwords should be at the top of your list. Focus on critical accounts that were accessed through the device before the reset like email and social media accounts.

Here are some steps to follow after resetting:

  1. Change passwords for all important accounts.
  2. Re-activate Find My iPhone/iPad feature.
  3. Review and adjust privacy settings according to preference.
  4. Regularly monitor account activity for signs of unauthorized access.

By changing passwords, you minimize risks associated with old credentials possibly being compromised during use prior to resetting.

Reactivating Find My iPhone/iPad is essential too; it helps locate lost devices and prevents others from using them without permission.

Lastly, keeping an eye on account activities helps catch any unusual behavior early on after a factory reset has been performed.

Alternatives to Factory Reset

Soft Reset

soft reset is not the same as a factory reset. It fixes minor issues but doesn't erase your data. Think of it like restarting your computer when it's acting up.

To perform a soft reset, simply turn off your iPhone or iPad and then turn it back on. If the device is unresponsive, you might need to force restart it. For iPhones 8 or later, quickly press and release the volume up button, then the volume down button, and finally press and hold the side button until you see the Apple logo. On an iPad with no home button, use the same method as for iPhone 8 or later.

Soft resets should be your first move when troubleshooting. They often fix problems without deleting anything.

Update iOS

After resetting your device, check for iOS updates. These bring new features and important security patches.

Updating can also improve performance and stability after a reset. Make sure you're connected to stable Wi-Fi before downloading an update.

Tips for a Smooth Reset Process

Charge Device

Before you start the factory reset on your iPhone or iPad, make sure it has enough battery life. It's best if the device is fully charged or plugged into a power source. This step prevents the process from being interrupted due to a low battery.

Charging your device beforehand also helps avoid complications that might arise during updates after resetting. These updates can take time and consume more power than usual operations.

Keep your device connected to power when restoring backups as well. This ensures that the restoration completes successfully without any hitches.

Stable Internet

A stable internet connection plays a vital role throughout the resetting process. Whether you're erasing content, updating iOS, or restoring backups online, each step requires internet access. Make sure your connection is reliable before starting.

Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for these tasks because of potential security risks. Public networks are less secure and could expose sensitive information during backups and updates.

If you experience connection issues mid-process, stop any ongoing operations until stability returns. It's better to pause than risk corrupting data or failing an update due to an unstable connection.

Resetting your iPhone or iPad is like hitting the refresh button on your device, giving it a clean slate. You've now got the lowdown on everything from the prep work to troubleshooting any hiccups along the way. Think of it as decluttering your digital life, ensuring your device runs smoother and safer. Whether you're passing it on or just wanting to start fresh, you're equipped with the know-how for a hassle-free reset.

Don't let the thought of pressing that reset button intimidate you. With this guide in your back pocket, you're more than ready to tackle it head-on. And hey, if you ever find yourself second-guessing or hitting a snag, remember, this guide's here to walk you through every step of the way. Now go on, give your device the fresh start it deserves and revel in that like-new feeling!

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly does a factory reset do to my iPhone or iPad?

A factory reset wipes your device clean, taking it back to its original state when you first got it. It's like giving your device a fresh start by erasing all the data, settings, and apps you've added.

How do I prepare my iPhone or iPad for a factory reset?

Before hitting that reset button, make sure to back up all your precious data. Think of it as packing up your valuables before a big move. Also, sign out of iCloud and iTunes to avoid any post-reset headaches.

Can you walk me through initiating a factory reset on my device?

Absolutely! Dive into your Settings app, tap “General,” scroll down to “Reset,” and select “Erase All Content and Settings.” It's like pressing the magic erase button—but make sure you're ready for everything to vanish!

Is there anything I need to do after resetting my iPhone or iPad?

Yes! After the reset dance is done, set up your device as if it were brand new. You can either start from scratch or restore from a backup if you're feeling nostalgic.

What are some common issues I might face during the reset process?

Sometimes things get sticky with activation locks or forgotten passwords. It's like forgetting the keys inside before locking the door—annoying but solvable with some troubleshooting steps.

Why should I consider security before doing a factory reset?

Think of it as shredding important documents; ensuring all personal info is properly erased protects you from identity theft ninjas lurking in digital shadows.

Are there alternatives if I'm not ready for a full factory reset on my iPhone/iPad?

Sure thing! Instead of nuking everything from orbit with a full reset, try offloading unused apps or deleting old files/photos. It's like decluttering without throwing away the entire house.

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