Can I recover data from wiped iPhone if there was no backup?

Data wiping an iPhone erases all of the data and settings on the device, restoring it to factory settings. This is often done before selling or disposing of an iPhone. Unfortunately, many users wipe their iPhones without first backing up their data, losing photos, messages, app data, and more in the process. This leads to the question – if you wipe an iPhone without a backup, is it possible to recover any of that lost data?

This article will examine the chances and methods for recovering deleted data from a wiped iPhone without a backup. We’ll look at what types of data might be recoverable, the requirements and tools for iPhone data recovery, and the factors that impact success rates. While data recovery is never guaranteed, there are some steps users can take to potentially get back lost iPhone data after a wipe.

How Data is Stored on iPhones

Data on iPhones is organized into a file system that contains two volumes: the system partition and the user data partition (Jamf, 2022). The system partition contains the iOS operating system and preinstalled apps, while the user data partition stores all user data and third-party apps.

The iOS file system uses a structured hierarchy of folders to organize different types of files. Most user data is stored in the Documents folder within the user data partition. This includes contacts, messages, photos, videos, and other documents created by apps (Apple Support, 2023).

Many apps also store data in SQLite database files. SQLite is a database engine that allows apps to persist data in a structured format (ScienceDirect, n.d.). For example, messages are stored in an SQLite database at /var/mobile/Library/SMS/sms.db. Other apps like Contacts, Calendar, and Notes also use SQLite databases.

In summary, iPhones use a file system with system and user data partitions to organize all data into folders and files. SQLite database files are commonly used by apps to store structured user data.

What Happens When You Wipe an iPhone

When you factory reset or wipe an iPhone, iOS performs a secure erase process to overwrite all user data. Specifically, it overwrites the encryption keys that protect your data with random 0s and 1s (Apple Support). This renders all previous data unreadable and inaccessible. The overwrite process happens on all user data partitions, including the system partition, user partition, and other encrypted partitions (Apple). Wiping an iPhone essentially resets it to a blank state with the default factory settings.

In summary, a factory reset overwrites an iPhone’s storage using random data to prevent any chance of recovering the previous user data. The iOS secure erase aims to make data recovery nearly impossible without specialized tools.

Chances of Recovering Data from a Wiped iPhone

The chances of recovering data from an iPhone after it has been wiped depend on several factors, according to experts. A key determinant is the method used to wipe the device – a factory reset versus manually deleting content and settings. Data recovery is also contingent on the type of storage in the iPhone model – flash versus SSD memory.

Overall, studies show data recovery success rates range from 30% to 80% in cases where no backup exists prior to wiping an iPhone. However, experts caution there are never guarantees. “No data recovery tools have a 100% success rate to recover data after factory reset without backup,” notes iMyFone [1].

According to discussions on Apple support forums, even advanced forensic data recovery methods used by organizations like the FBI cannot recover all data from a wiped iPhone [2]. Cost is also a major inhibiting factor, with iPhone data recovery potentially running into the tens of thousands of dollars.

In summary, recovering data from a wiped iPhone without a backup is possible but not guaranteed. Success depends on the recovery method, device specs, time elapsed since wiping, and cost invested. Caution and conservative expectations are warranted.

Requirements for Data Recovery from a Wiped iPhone

In order to recover data from an iPhone that has been wiped or factory reset, there are some key requirements:

First, you need access to the original wiped iPhone. Data recovery cannot be completed on a replacement device or if the original device has been disposed of or destroyed. The data exists in the phone’s flash memory, so physical access to the device is mandatory (source).

Second, it is crucial to avoid using the device further or overwriting the existing data. Any newly added data has the potential to overwrite deleted data and make recovery impossible. The phone should be powered off immediately after the wipe and remain untouched until recovery efforts can begin.

Specialized data recovery tools and skills are also required. Recovering data from a wiped iPhone is very complex and cannot typically be accomplished with basic software. Forensic-level tools capable of deep scanning and extracting raw data from the memory chips are needed. This requires advanced expertise in mobile forensics (source).

In many cases, it is advisable to seek help from a professional mobile data recovery service. They have the sophisticated tools and knowledge to safely extract residual data from a wiped device. However, this can be a costly option.

Data Recovery Methods and Tools

There are a few main methods for recovering data from a wiped iPhone device. Forensic data recovery utilizes advanced scanning techniques to search for file signatures and recover deleted data. This requires specialized equipment and software used by data recovery experts. Some options for forensic iOS data recovery include:

  • Scanning the raw NAND memory chips removed from the device to find recoverable data blocks
  • Jailbreaking the iPhone and using forensic tools to scan the raw filesystem for recoverable data
  • Analyzing encrypted iPhone backups to recover deleted files

There are also data recovery software tools available to recover lost iOS data. Some popular options include:

  • Tenorshare UltData -Recovers 35+ data types like photos, messages, contacts, notes, etc.
  • Fonelab – Recovers up to 18 data types without backups.
  • EaseUS MobiSaver – Retrieves lost data directly from iOS devices or iTunes backups.

These tools can recover lost data by scanning iOS devices directly or extracting backups. Results vary based on the recovery method and type of data wiped.

What Data Can Potentially Be Recovered

When you wipe an iPhone, some types of files and data may still be recoverable if the right conditions are met:

  • Contacts – Names, phone numbers, email addresses, and other contact info may be recoverable if they were synced to iCloud. According to some users on Apple’s forums, contacts are one of the easiest types of data to restore from iCloud after a wipe (
  • Messages – Conversations from iMessage, SMS, and MMS are often stored in iCloud backups. It may be possible to recover some messages if they were backed up. However, encrypted end-to-end iMessages will likely be unrecoverable (
  • Photos – Provided photos were synced to iCloud Photo Library, it’s possible to restore them through iCloud after a wipe. However, photos only stored locally on the device will likely be lost.
  • App Data – Some app data like game progress or documents may survive if synced to iCloud. But app data solely on the device is unlikely to be recovered.
  • Music – Any music synced from iTunes or Apple Music could potentially be restored via iCloud music library. But music just downloaded locally would likely not be recoverable.
  • Calendars – Calendar events and reminders are often synced and storable in iCloud.

In general, any data backed up to iCloud has a chance of being recovered after a wipe. But data solely stored locally on the device is likely unrecoverable if no backup exists.

Success Factors for Recovery

There are several factors that can increase the chances of recovering data from a wiped iPhone without a backup:

Newer iPhone models tend to have higher success rates. This is because older models like the iPhone 5s and earlier used slower flash storage compared to newer models that use NVMe SSDs. The faster write speeds on newer iPhones make data persistence more likely after a wipe (source).

iPhones with more storage capacity have higher recovery chances. With more storage space, there is a greater chance of data remnants persisting through a wipe (source).

The method used to wipe the iPhone matters. A standard factory reset from the iPhone’s settings has higher recovery chances than using iTunes, iMazing or other tools for a full system wipe.

Certain file types like photos, videos, audio recordings, notes, messages, contacts, and calendar events tend to have higher recovery rates than app data and documents.

Quickly stopping iOS updates or new data from writing to storage after a wipe can improve the chances of recovery. This prevents overwriting whatever data remnants may still persist.

Using advanced forensic data recovery tools instead of standard software can also boost success rates for wiped iPhones without backups.

Cost of Professional iPhone Data Recovery

Professional iPhone data recovery services typically charge between $300 to $1500 depending on the device and amount of data to be recovered ( The cost is affected by factors like the iPhone model, storage capacity, condition of the device, and type of data to be recovered.

Newer iPhone models like the iPhone X and later often cost more for data recovery, with prices starting around $450 and going up from there ( Older models with smaller storage may be on the lower end of the typical price range.

Data recovery for a wiped iPhone is complex and has risks of permanent data loss if not done properly. While do-it-yourself recovery software is cheaper, success rates are low for wiped devices, and you risk damaging the phone further. Professional services have advanced tools and expertise that give the best chance for recovering data from a wiped iPhone.

The cost may seem high, but keep in mind certified iPhone data recovery engineers invest heavily in specialized equipment and training to disassemble devices and extract data at the component level. The price reflects their expertise and capabilities when DIY efforts have failed.


In summary, recovering data from a fully wiped iPhone without a backup is challenging but potentially possible in some cases. The feasibility depends on specific factors like the iPhone model, the method used to wipe the device, and how much time has passed since the wipe. While data recovery tools and services exist, they cannot guarantee success and can be expensive. The best approach is having regular backups of your iPhone to iCloud or iTunes before any data loss occurs. However, if you find yourself in a situation of needing to salvage data from a wiped iPhone without a backup, consult a data recovery specialist to determine if recovery is possible based on your specific circumstances. With the right conditions, you may be able to retrieve some or all of your lost data. Going forward, be sure to implement a consistent iPhone backup routine.