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Formatting An iPhone To Wipe Data

It appears people are recovering data off old iPhones. Whoops- looks like you can pull data out of memory using forensics tools, just like any other platform. While your Mac includes the ability to overwrite old data when formatting your hard drive to prevent recovery (very cool that this is included in a consumer operating system), there is no equivalent mechanism to clear off that “ancient” original iPhone when you trade up to the 3G version next month.

For those of you who aren’t just convincing your spousees to take your “old” iPhone off your hands to justify that new toy, Securosis presents a simple process to minimize the chances of recovery. It’s not perfect, but it’s easy and should offer enough protection for those of you forced to eBay your once-precious-but-now-obsolete device:

  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.

This will hopefully overwrite any of the free space on your phone, helping prevent recovery of any of those love letters and bad jokes lingering from old emails. I won’t have a chance to test this anytime soon, and odds are high some fragments will survive depending on how the iPhone allocates at the file system level, but this should be more than sufficient to prevent casual recovery of sensitive stuff if you’d like to hock your “old” phone.

—Rich

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By How to properly erase an iPhone  on  05/21  at  03:47 AM

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By » “Formateando” tu iPhone »  on  05/21  at  03:53 AM

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By AppleRag » Blog Archive » How to prope  on  05/21  at  04:10 AM

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By Apple iPhone SDK - How to Better Erase an iPhone W  on  05/21  at  05:41 AM

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By Como apagar corretamente os dados do iPhone | iPho  on  05/21  at  06:39 AM

[...] método foi desenvolvido pelo pessoal do site Securosis, e consiste em, basicamente, restaurar o iPhone no iTunes e enxer ele de arquivos até a capacidade [...]

By Jonathan Zdziarski  on  05/21  at  07:28 AM

Incomplete. Try again.

By rabbit  on  05/21  at  07:54 AM

iPhone has two partitions, applications are stored on the other partition than music. Is data stored on the same partition?

By rmogull  on  05/21  at  08:11 AM

Great question, and the reason I said in the article I’‘m uncertain exactly what data can linger. My guess is that user data is on the same partition as music, or the partitions dynamically resize since there isn’‘t a different limit for email/photos/etc. over music- just one big storage limit.

By Formatear y borrar iPhone eficazmente - AppleHOY  on  05/21  at  08:34 AM

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By iPhones are like elephants: they never forget  on  05/21  at  09:11 AM

[...] if you are planning getting rid of your iPhone, Rich Mogull of TidBITS (and a Macworld contributor) has a suggestion about how to thoroughly clean your data off the iPhone, using nothing more than iTunes. Rich’s method essentially relies on overwriting the existing [...]

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By Finde  on  05/21  at  09:32 AM

To save you a bit of time, couldn’‘t you just make 2 playlists and switch?

By » Wipe your iPhone » Social iPhone sof  on  05/21  at  09:41 AM

[...]  Until there’s a proper utility to do so, here’s a hacky way of wiping your iPhone of your data.  Tags: data, erase, wipe Wednesday, May 21st, 2008 at 5:41 pm   [...]

By rmogull  on  05/21  at  09:42 AM

Probably, that should work. I just didn’‘t think of it.

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By Finde  on  05/21  at  12:31 PM

Sorry didn’‘t mean to sound rude, it’‘d just save you a bit of time, that’s all.

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