Will iPhone erase after 10 attempts?

One of the security features on the iPhone is that it will erase all data after 10 failed passcode attempts. This is done to protect the user’s privacy in case the device is lost or stolen. But does the iPhone really erase itself after 10 failed passcode attempts? Let’s take a closer look.

How the 10 attempt wipe works

When you set up an iPhone with a passcode, a security feature is enabled that will erase the device after 10 consecutive failed passcode attempts. This is to prevent unauthorized access to the data on the device if someone tries to randomly guess the passcode.

Here is how the 10 attempt wipe process works on iPhone:

  • You enable a passcode on your iPhone. This activates the 10 attempt wipe security feature.
  • Someone tries to unlock your iPhone by guessing the passcode. After each failed attempt, a counter keeps track.
  • After 10 consecutive failed attempts, the iPhone will erase all data and settings and reset itself to factory default.

The 10 attempt counter is designed to wipe the device even if someone knows your passcode but repeatedly enters the wrong one on purpose. This security measure ensures your data is deleted after 10 failed passcode entries.

What data is erased in the wipe?

When an iPhone is wiped after 10 failed passcode attempts, all user data and settings are erased. This includes:

  • Photos
  • Contacts
  • Messages
  • Email accounts
  • App data
  • Home screen layout
  • Device settings

Basically the entire phone is reset to its original factory state with no personal content or accounts on it. The wipe makes it like you just took a brand new iPhone out of the box.

The 10 attempt wipe can be disabled

While the 10 attempt wipe is enabled by default when you set a passcode, it is possible to disable this security feature. This allows you to keep trying passcode attempts past 10 without wiping the device.

Here is how to disable the 10 attempt wipe on iPhone:

  1. Go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode (Touch ID & Passcode on older models)
  2. Enter your passcode
  3. Scroll down and turn off “Erase Data” under “Allow access when locked”

With the 10 attempt wipe disabled, you can keep entering passcode attempts without the phone erasing itself. This may be useful if you are prone to forgetting or entering the wrong passcode but also reduces the security of the device.

The wipe occurs after 6 or 4 attempts with shorter timeouts

While the iPhone is designed to wipe after 10 failed passcode attempts, in some situations it will happen after fewer attempts:

  • 6 attempts – If you use the SOS emergency feature by pressing the side button 5 times, the iPhone will wipe after 6 failed attempts instead of 10.
  • 4 attempts – If you haven’t used the device for more than 48 hours, the timeout lowers to just 4 failed passcode attempts before wiping the device.

So in some cases such as calling emergency services or leaving your phone locked for over 2 days, the threshold for a wipe can occur at 6 or even just 4 failed passcode attempts rather than the normal 10 attempts.

Failed attempts from biometrics don’t count

On iPhones with biometric authentication like Face ID or Touch ID, failed unlock attempts using biometrics do not count against the 10 attempt limit. For example:

  • You fail to unlock the iPhone with Face ID 5 times. The passcode attempt counter stays at 0.
  • You then enter 5 wrong passcodes. The counter goes to 5.
  • You enter 5 more wrong passcodes. The iPhone wipes after this 10th failed passcode attempt.

So only failed passcode attempts are counted. Failed Face ID or Touch ID scans don’t trigger the wipe.

The passcode counter goes back to 0 after unlocking

An important detail about the 10 attempt wipe is that the failed passcode counter resets back to 0 after you successfully unlock the iPhone. For example:

  • You enter 5 wrong passcodes. Counter is at 5.
  • You enter the correct passcode and unlock the iPhone. Counter resets to 0.
  • You enter 5 more wrong passcodes. Counter is only at 5 again, not 10.

So until 10 failed passcode attempts happen consecutively without successfully unlocking the device, the wipe will not occur. Unlocking the phone resets the failure counter back to zero.

What happens when erased after 10 attempts

When an iPhone is wiped after 10 failed passcode attempts, here is what you will see:

  • After the 10th failed attempt, the phone will immediately go to the erase screen with an iTunes or cable logo.
  • The screen will progress through an erase process that takes several minutes to complete.
  • Once done, the phone will boot up to the “Hello” setup screen just like a brand new iPhone.
  • You can go through the setup process to start using the iPhone again, but all previous data and settings will be gone.

So when the 10 attempt wipe occurs, the iPhone is completely reset with no way to cancel or recover the erased data. It ensures your information is deleted if someone was trying to access your phone.

Backups can restore data after a wipe

While the 10 attempt wipe erases all data from the iPhone, you can still recover your information if you have a recent backup.

For example, if you back up your iPhone to iCloud, you can use the iCloud restore process during setup to download your data again. Here is how iCloud restore works after a wipe:

  1. The wiped iPhone boots up to the “Hello” screen.
  2. Connect to a Wi-Fi network and proceed to the Apps & Data screen.
  3. Tap Restore from iCloud Backup.
  4. Sign in with your Apple ID and select the desired backup.
  5. Allow the phone to download and restore your data.

This will reload apps, settings, photos and other content from your iCloud backup. The same process applies if you backup your iPhone locally to iTunes on a computer.

Is the wipe permanent without backups?

If you do not have a recent backup, the 10 attempt wipe will result in permanent data loss. Without backups, there is no way to retrieve the deleted data from an iPhone after a wipe.

Some things that can happen if you have no backup:

  • Lost photos that are not synced anywhere else.
  • Lost messages and call history.
  • Lost app data if not synced to iCloud.
  • Need to re-enter Wi-Fi passwords, reset app settings, etc.
  • Lost local notes, voice memos, health data, etc.

To avoid permanent data loss, be sure to regularly back up your iPhone to iCloud or iTunes.

Can you recover data after wiping?

While the 10 attempt iPhone wipe is designed to securely delete data, there are some ways data fragments may still be recovered by advanced methods after erasing. However, full recovery is generally not possible.

Some data fragments that might be recovered after wiping include:

  • Partial file contents from raw storage chips/modules.
  • Cached data remnants.
  • Pieces of files in slack/unallocated space.

Specialized forensics tools can scan for these fragments and reconstruct partial data. But complete recovery is unlikely due to iPhone hardware encryption.

Should you disable the 10 attempt wipe?

Is it a good idea to turn off the 10 attempt wipe capability on your iPhone? Here are some pros and cons to disabling the passcode erase feature:

Pros of disabling wipe

  • No risk of losing data due to forgetting passcode
  • Can keep trying passcodes indefinitely
  • Prevents wipe if someone tries to trigger it maliciously

Cons of disabling wipe

  • Reduces security if phone lost or stolen
  • Makes it easier for someone to brute force into phone
  • Goes against Apple’s security recommendations

For most users, it’s safer to leave the 10 attempt wipe enabled. But if you have trouble recalling passwords or are at low risk of your phone being taken, disabling it is an option.


The iPhone 10 attempt wipe is an important security measure that protects your data in lost or stolen situations. While it will erase your information after 10 consecutive failed passcode entries, you can recover your data from a backup.

To recap key points:

  • iPhone wipes after 10 failed passcode attempts by default.
  • Can occur after 6 attempts if SOS used or 4 attempts after 48 hours.
  • Count only applies to passcode attempts, not Touch/Face ID.
  • Counter resets to 0 after unlocking phone.
  • Erases all user data and settings, but not system software.
  • Enabling Find My iPhone feature prevents factory resetting.
  • Backups can restore your data if you have them.

Overall, the 10 attempt wipe provides strong protection against unauthorized access attempts. But with proper backups, you can recover from it and restore your data if it ever happens accidentally.