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.
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.
- 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
- 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
- Tap the blue (i) icon next to the device name and then tap “Remote Wipe”
- 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
- 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.