How to Erase Your iPad Before You Sell it

Delete your personal information and protect your privacy

That shiny iPad you bought just a year or two ago isn't quite as shiny as the new model that just came out, so you've decided to trade-in your iPad and upgrade to the latest edition. Or, perhaps you chose to make the switch to an Android- or Windows-based tablet.

Before you rush to a store that accepts trade-ins or package up your old iPad to send it off to a site like Gazelle, there are a couple of important steps you need to take to remove your personal data so that would-be criminals or other curiosity seekers don't get a hold of your information.

These instructions were written specifically for iPadOS 14. However, they should generally apply across all older iPad operating systems.

Make Sure You Have a Good Backup of Your Data

If you opt for a new iPad, have a good backup of your documents, settings, and other data on iCloud. This allows you to make a smooth transition to your new iPad by letting you easily restore your stuff after you get the new one up and running.

You may want to ensure that your outgoing device has the latest version of iPadOS before running your final backup. This helps avoid potential version incompatibility issues since your new iPad will likely come preloaded with the most current version of iOS. You can upgrade your iOS by going to Settings > General > Software Update and checking for a new update.

To back up your iPad to iCloud before you wipe its data:

  1. Tap the Settings icon.

    The Settings app on iPad
  2. Select your Apple ID from the top of the Settings page, and then select iCloud from the right side of the screen.

    iPad settings with the Apple ID and iCloud heading highlighted
  3. Choose iCloud Backup.

    The iCloud Backup option in iCloud Settings on an iPad
  4. Tap Back Up Now.

    If you haven't enabled this feature, tap the switch next to iCloud Backup to turn it on.

    The Back Up Now command on an iPad
  5. After your backup completes, check the date and time next to Last successful backup to ensure that the process completed successfully.

    The "last successful backup" item on the iPad's iCloud Backup screen

How to Erase Your iPad's Data

The most important part of preparing your iPad for sale is ensuring that all traces of you have been removed from it. Don't sell or give away an iPad without wiping its data first.

  1. Tap the Settings icon.

    The Settings app on iPad
  2. Select the General menu.

    iPad settings with the General heading highlighted
  3. Choose Reset.

    The Reset option in iPad General settings
  4. Tap Erase All Content and Settings.

    If you see a message after doing this that says you're still backing up to iCloud, select Finish Backup Then Erase so that the backup is performed.

    The "Erase All Content and Settings" option in iPad's Reset menu
  5. Even if you recently backed up your iPad to iCloud, you may receive a prompt asking you to either perform another backup or proceed with the erasure.

    iCloud Backup options on an iPad
  6. If you have a passcode (unlock code) enabled, enter it in the next window.

    The Enter Passcode window during the iPad Reset process
  7. Choose Erase Now when the pop-up menu appears.

    The Erase command in the Erase iPad window
  8. If you enabled restrictions, you're prompted for your restriction code. Enter your restriction passcode.

  9. You are asked to confirm the erase a second time. Choose Erase again.

    The final Erase command in the iPad reset process

Depending on the version of iOS installed on the iPad, you may need to enter your Apple ID account password to remove it from the iPad. You need access to the internet (via WiFi or cellular connection) to perform this step.

Once the wipe and reset process begins, the screen goes blank for up to several minutes as the iPad wipes your personal data and restores it to its factory settings. You will likely see a progress bar showing the status of the wipe and reset process. When the iPad finishes the process, you see the Hello or Welcome Setup Assistant screen as if you were setting up the iPad for the first time.

If you don't see the Hello or Welcome screen, something in the wipe process didn't work correctly, and you need to repeat the process. Failure to do so may result in ​whoever obtains your iPad having access to your personal information and data that was left on it.

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