How Tos And Tips

How To Factory Reset An iPhone

how to factory reset an iPhone

So your phone is probably buggy, slow, keeps crashing or maybe all of the mentioned? Good old Google spits out a couple of terms and you’re not sure of their meaning and left sitting in front of the screen hanging. The three most common ones are; reset, hard reset and factory reset. Sometimes people confuse the terms and interchange hard reset for a factory reset even though they are completely different. I’ll try to lay out the differences and explain how to easily perform each of them.

Let’s start by explaining why you would do each one of them and in which situations is a factory reset for an iPhone or smartphones, in general, a solution.


Restarting an iPhone
Restarting an iPhone

Restarting an iPhone can solve a slew of problems, including freezing, poor network or internet connectivity, lagging etc.

It is easy to perform and it only takes a couple of seconds. Apple assigned new functions to the Sleep/Wake button on the side of the device on newer models so I’ll explain it for both new and old ones.

To Restart an iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone X, and iPhone 8:

  1. Press and hold the Sleep/Wake and Volume Down buttons at the same time.
  2. When the slide to power off slider appears, release the Sleep/Wake and Volume Down buttons.
  3. Move the slider from left to right to shut down the phone.

How to Restart Other iPhone Models:

  1. Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button. On older models, it’s on the top of the phone. On the iPhone 6 series and newer, it’s on the right side.
  2. Release the Sleep/Wake button.
  3. Move the power off slider from left to right.

Hopefully, this has solved your problems but if it didn’t keep on reading.

Hard Reset

I’ve had to do hard reset numerous times in the past and it is usually a quick fix. It basically fixes the same issues as the normal, basic reset does plus a couple of more like when the phone is completely frozen and won’t respond to pressing the Sleep/Wake button. A hard reset restarts the phone and refreshes the memory that apps run in. It doesn’t delete data but otherwise helps the iPhone start from scratch. 

On Android phones (not all), you can just remove the battery and pop it back in to do the hard reset but on newer Androids and iPhones, the battery is fixed and you have to now the combination of buttons for your phone to perform it.

Again, Apple has complicated the situation by assigning different functions to the same buttons and we’ll have to break it down by models.

How to Hard Reset the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone X, and iPhone 8

  1. Click and release the Volume Up button.
  2. Click and release the Volume Down button.
  3. Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button until the slide to power off slider appears.
  4. Move the slider from left to right to reset the phone.

How to Hard Reset iPhone 7 Series

With the iPhone 7 series, hold the Volume Down button and the Sleep/Wake button at the same time.

How to Hard Reset Other iPhone Models

  1. Hold the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button at the same time.
  2. Continue to hold the buttons when the power off slider appears, don’t release the buttons.
  3. When the Apple logo appears, release the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button.

Sometimes an iPhone may have problems so complicated that a restart or reset just doesn’t do the trick. Now’s the time to move on to factory reset.

Factory Reset

Why would you do a factory reset to your precious iPhone? If you want to erase all the data from an iPhone and start from scratch. This solves some tough bugs. But also if you’re selling your iPhone. Yes, you don’t want your naughty photos, contacts or texts winding up in someone else’s hands. It still amazes me how many people do not do the factory reset before selling their iPhones or discarding them. 

Yes, factory reset WILL ERASE all of your data on the phone and it’s impossible to recover these files. You can only recover your iTunes or iCloud backup!

Unlike Android phones where Avast showed that Android’s factory reset option does not remove all of the user’s data, Apple actually did their due diligence and the data will indeed be unrecoverable!

First thing’s first, BACK UP your data!

There are two options to back up data:

  1. To back up to iTunes, sync the phone to your computer, then tap the Back up button on the main page.
  2. To back up to iCloud, go to Settings > Name (skip this step on earlier versions of the iOS) > iCloud > iCloud Backup, then start a new backup.

If you’re selling your iPhone, you have to disable iCloud and Find My iPhone. If you don’t disable Activation Lock, the next person who gets your iPhone — either a buyer or repair person — won’t be able to use it. The lock is disabled when you turn off iCloud/Find My iPhone.

Go to Settings>Tap your name>Tap iCloud, then tap Find My iPhone>Turn off the Find My iPhone toggle switch>Scroll to the bottom of the screen and tap Sign Out>If prompted, enter your Apple ID/iCloud password.

Next and final step is to restore the iPhone to it’s original – factory settings.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Scroll down and tap General.
  3. Scroll to the bottom and tap Reset.
  4. On the Reset screen, tap Erase All Content and Settings.
  5. If prompted, enter the passcode set on your phone.
  6. The screen displays a warning that all music, other media, data, and settings will be erased. Tap Erase to continue.

It takes a few minutes to delete everything from the iPhone, depending on how much data is on it. When the process is done, the iPhone restarts.

You can also fully reset your iPhone or iPad through iTunes. When you plug in your iOS device, you should be able to see a ‘Restore iPhone’ button, which will fully reset the device.

To underline once again, factory resetting your iPhone or iPad completely wipes the data on the device and returns it to factory settings. This is distinct from the less drastic processes of restarting and hard-restarting, both of which retain your data and settings and should generally be tried first.

If you do not do a factory reset on your iPhone before selling it, an unscrupulous buyer could gain access to your social media profiles, your financial information and even your personal photos and videos, enabling them to browse through your private moments or steal your identity.

What if Forgot To Do A Backup Before Factory Reset?

Well, there’s a good chance that there’s a backup you’re unaware of! 

To find out if you’re backing up to iCloud (you get free 5GB of space) go to: 

  1. Settings > iCloud 
  2. Tap on Storage
  3. Wait a few seconds for Manage Storage to show up 
  4. Tap on Manage Storage
  5. Here you will see your various backups for your iOS devices (there might even be one for an old iPhone that you could delete if you need more space).
  6. Tap on one and you can see what is, and isn’t being backed up. You can basically turn things on and off so that they don’t take up your full 5GB

You may think that some of the apps don’t need to be backed up; after all, you will be able to download them again from the App Store library as you already own them. Some of the data though may include saved data for games, and other settings and preferences you would prefer not to lose.

To check when your iPhone last backed up, go to: 

  1. Settings > iCloud 
  2. Tap Backup and look at the date and time of the last backup. It will have happened the last time you plugged your iPhone in to charge and had Wi-Fi access available. It happens automatically.

If you find that you aren’t backing up this way, we recommend that you go to:

  1. Settings > iCloud 
  2. Tap Back up 
  3. Turn iCloud Backup on 

This is the simplest way to back up and means that you always recover the data on your phone no matter where you are, all you will need is a connection to the web.

On the other hand, if you can’t find a backup, it’s likely that you won’t be able to retrieve data once you have deleted it.


Hopefully, this article explained the differences between reset, hard reset and factory reset. 

To summarize,

if your iPhone is acting strange, try doing a simple, basic reset. If that doesn’t help, do a hard reset. If the hard reset doesn’t help, move on to a factory reset for your iPhone. And remember to always back up your data on iCloud or iTunes, whichever you prefer.