How to Remote Wipe an iPhone or iPad

Jun 5, 2012 - 13 Comments

How to Remote Wipe an iPhone or iPad

If you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod, you can remotely wipe the device with the help of an excellent free service offered through iCloud called “Find My iPhone” (or Find My iPad, etc). This is perfect for situations where a lost device is long gone with no chance of recovery, because it erases anything that is personally identifying, be it emails, texts, contacts, apps, quite literally everything. If you don’t have this configured yet and you don’t know how to use it, set aside some time to learn, it only takes a few minutes.

Requirements:

Yes, the app is called Find My iPhone even if you’re using it to find an iPad, iPod, or Mac. We’re going to operate under the assumption that you already have iCloud configured properly, and that the Find My service is enabled. If not refer to the links in the requirements section and get that configured.

Use Remote Wipe on an iPhone or iPad to Erase All Data

This can not be undone, keep that in mind before beginning.

  1. Using a web browser go to iCloud.com, log in, and click on “Find My iPhone” or launch the Find My iPhone app in iOS
  2. You’ll now be at a Maps window, tap on “Devices” in the upper left corner and select the iPhone or iPad you wish to remotely format
  3. Tap the blue (i) icon next to the device name and then tap “Remote Wipe”
  4. Remote Wipe an iPhone or iPad

  5. Confim you want to erase all data on the iPhone or iPad by tapping “Erase All Data” – this is the point of no return, once you do this the device will be wiped completely
  6. Confirm Erase All Data on iPhone from Remote Wipe

  7. After this process has begun you will soon notice the hardware disappear from the Find app, indicating it was successful

That’s it, the lost iOS device will now be completely wiped free, erasing all personal data that it contained and leaving no trace of you as the original owner. The device at this point is effectively reset to factory defaults from afar.

Because Remote Wipe causes the iPhone, iPad, or iPod to no longer appear in Find My iPhone, it should be considered a last resort when you are absolutely certain you won’t get the iPad or iPhone back due to theft, loss, or some other situation. An alternative if you still want to track the device is to use “Remote Lock” instead, which locks the device down though it does not delete sensitive data from the device.

If you have a Mac or two setup with iCloud and Find My Mac you’ll find that you can remotely wipe a Mac using the same method.

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Posted by: William Pearson in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks

13 Comments

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  1. Tim says:

    It’s better than nothing — but for wi-fi only devices (like iPod or iPad with no 3G), it seems you are in a catch-22 to use this in that you’d have to configure it to automatically join any unsecured wifi network or hope that it is lost only in areas where you’ve already configured it to connect to a ‘known’ wifi network.

    If you’re really wanting to protect your device, you’d also need to configure it to have a complex passcode and set it to auto wipe after 10 failed logins.

    • Matt B says:

      I’m not so sure on the Delete Data function after 10 failed passcode attempts. Surely if the phone is stolen the thief can just keep trying passcodes (within a matter of seconds) until auto wipe is activated and then you can no longer us the Find My iPhone App to actually trace your phone and voila, the thief has a clean iPhone.

      I’d rather try Find my Phone first to get my phone back and then remotely enable Data Delete as a real last resort.

  2. Anon A Mus says:

    The good news is that my friend gave me his iPhone 3G. The bad news is that Apple won’t allow iCloud to run on it. Are there any other remote wipes solutions?

  3. da12k l0rd says:

    How can you cancel this feature ? Is there anyway I can cancel remote lock and remote wipe for my Macbook pro ? I just can’t sit with the thought that if someone hacked my apple id, then my macbook pro would lose all the data it had ..

  4. Cathie W. says:

    I was wondering if there is anyway that we can get our information back on the iphone once it is wiped clean. We erased the information by mistake. Now my husband has lost all of his valuable pictures, texts and some of his contacts. I assumed that it was saved to icloud on the computer. When we plugged the phone back into our itunes account it did reload his cellular phone number but not all of the important data. Can someone please help? Thanks so much!

  5. Kiki says:

    Can anyone tell me if you can track the phone that wiped your phone? This is important and I need an answer ASAP!!!

  6. Scott l says:

    What info does it actualy wipe of the phone
    Does it get rid of SMS messages ect

  7. Dimitri says:

    Okay, so I got my phone taken away in school today, and it is now with the police as ‘evidence’. So, I went on iCloud and used the erase/clear data feature or whatever, it says my iPhone is offline, there is a pending erase, and that this iPhone will be erased when it connects to the internet. Okay, so I have 3g on my phone and all of that, why is it saying it needs to connect to the internet? I have to be at the police station at 4pm (it’s 2:45), and they’re going to ask me to open up the phone, but the erase is still pending. How am I going to be able to get the phone to be erased without manually doing it from the phone itself? the phone is saying it needs to be connected to the internet, how am i going to do that without manually connecting it to the internet? ugh help me, I’m stressing :(

  8. Napple says:

    Fifth amendment anyone? Oh well… I can’t believe that wasn’t the first thing said. Don’t surrender your rights to the government ever.

  9. alishah says:

    does erasing your iphone on find my iphone, erase your apps as well?
    i hope it does! please let me know! i had some personal apps on my phone and i recently hit “erase iphone”
    and i was wondering what content did it erase!
    please someone answer me !

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