What to Do When iPhone Erased All Data after Failed Passcode Attempts

So, your iPhone just self-destructed and reset itself saying that you had entered the wrong passcode too many times? Or did you restore the device to factory mode because your iPhone was disabled? Whatever the cause is, one of the main consequences is that all your data got erased.

The question is — does that mean all your photos, videos, notes, etc. are lost for good? Not necessarily.

In this article, I’m going to show you how to restore your lost iPhone data due to failed passcode attempts.

When Does an iPhone Get Disabled or Erased By Itself?

The answer is: when you hit the 10 wrong passcode input limit.

For your information, we created a list below that outlines different screen messages that will show up on your iPhone after you insert the wrong passcodes too many times.

  • 1-5 times: Notifications saying the passcode is wrong (Give another try)
  • 6th time: “iPhone is disabled, try again in 1 minute” (Wait 1 minute and try again)
  • 7th time:  “iPhone is disabled, try again in 5 minutes” (Wait 5 minutes and try again)
  • 8th time: “iPhone is disabled, try again in 15 minutes” (Wait 15 minutes and try again)
  • 9th time: “iPhone is disabled, try again in 60 minutes” (Wait 60 minutes and try again)
  • 10th time: “iPhone is disabled. connect to iTunes” (iPhone is completely disabled)

As you can see, if you enter the wrong passcode into your iPhone six to nine times in a row, you’ll be locked out with a message saying “iPhone is disabled, try again in X minute(s)”.

Until you hit the 10th time, your iPhone will be completely locked out.

The last chance you have to make things right is to ensure you enter the right passcode once the “Enter Passcode” window shows again after you connect the device to an authorized computer.

But, that only applies to the situation when you didn’t enable the self-destruct mode. In other words, the “Erase Data” option under Settings > Touch ID & Passcode.

If you have enabled the option where underneath it says “Erase all data on this iPhone after 10 failed passcode attempts”, then once you entered the wrong passcode in the 10th attempt, all your iPhone data will be erased immediately. That’s why we called it: “self-destruct”.

Nevertheless, it is still possible to recover some (or all) of your lost data even if your iPhone has been reset to factory status.

How to Recover Data After iPhone Got Erased Due to Wrong Passcodes?

Note: the methods below are ranked based on the ease of implementation. If one method doesn’t work or doesn’t fit your situation, simply go to the next one.

Method 1: Recover from iCloud Backup

Good to use when: you have enabled iCloud backup for your iPhone and there was at least one backup available before your iPhone got locked out.

Turn on your iPhone, you should see a Hello screen.

Follow the setup instructions until you reach Apps & Data where a few options are available for your choice, one of which is Restore from iCloud Backup, tap on it, and sign in to iCloud with your Apple ID.

Follow the rest steps to complete the process. This Apple support article has more.

Method 2: Recover from iTunes Backup

Goot to use when: you have backed up your iPhone via iTunes to your PC before the device got disabled and wiped out.

Just connect your iPhone to the computer you usually use to sync and back up data. Open the iTunes app, and click on the phone icon to access the main screen like below.

Under Settings > Summary, in the Backups section. Click “Restore Backup…” and follow the rest instructions accordingly.

Method 3: Use iPhone Data Recovery Software

Good to use when: you don’t have any iTunes or iCloud backup, but still want to retrieve your lost files, especially the photos and videos.

Your last option is probably to try a third-party iPhone data recovery tool. Chances are that you can get back some files, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to recover everything since your device has been wiped out already.

Final Tips

Getting a phone wallet case will help avoid mistakenly touching your iPhone when it’s in a pocket. Inadvertently disabling the device is surprisingly common nowadays.

The slide to unlock feature on iPhones can be activated from anywhere on the screen, then pressing passcode entry while perhaps unconsciously to you, can cause your iPhone to be disabled.

Consider turning off the self-destruct mode (the “Erase Data” option as shown above) unless you are absolutely paranoid about device theft. Enabling it often causes more trouble than the value of protecting data.

If you have young children in the house, be careful when you handle your iPhone with them because the kids are often smart enough to find a way onto the passcode input screen, and enter the wrong password repeatedly as they tap.

Do you know any other useful methods or tips about recovering data from a disabled iPhone? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • Pooja

    Can anyone please help me out on my passcode. I forgot my passcode . I have one last attempt. if I enter the incorrect one then will I lose my data?

    Note : Self destruct – Erase data is turned off.

  • Chad Chow

    Last night my daughter plug my iphone 7 to charge and went to bed before midnight. This morning I found my iphone had everything wiped out and in the Hello screen. It’s just like a brand new phone and waiting to be activated. I also found I got an email around midnight last night from noreply@email.apple.com to notify me ‘Activation Lock is requesting your password on ‘my’ iphone (iPhone 7). I ended up reinstalled everything in my phone. I have been an iphone user for 5+ years but this never happened to me. Do you know why and did that email trigger the action wiping out everything in my phone? Thank you.

  • Avi

    Will this affect the data I have on another phone? I forgot the password and I’m trying to erase my current phone so that I can sell it, but I don’t want all of my data erased on my other phone too.

  • Conundrum

    Hi, I have information here that a failing TouchID sensor or ribbon can result in wrong attempts as it shows ghost touches. Also if the screen is damaged due to (among other things) delaminated Z tape it can falsely show the code has been entered wrong. In both cases the end result can be a bricked phone. Surely Apple should just add a CAPTCHA to prevent this situation? People depend on their phones and aren’t always good at backing up data.
    On the older ones it was possible to temporarily bypass lock screen using the headphone port which I discovered by accident but it invariably locks as soon as you try and do anything even with power interruption.

  • Jeremy

    Does an iPhone ) lock after self destruct mode

  • Judy Mulenburg

    Great description of what do do and what to expect when your iPhone locks.

    Complete, Easy to Read, Great Visuals.

    Would like to follow your other articles and suggestions.

  • Abishek

    Does it erase iCloud id?

    • John

      It does not erase iCloud ID, no

  • Sharath

    Hi..i have a doubt…
    After entering passcode 10 times wrong..all the data will be erased…
    After that phone will restart or it will be dead

  • lina spencer

    My iphone screen is broken and all the times I’ve tried to unlock it, it wouldn’t let me push the right numbers, it kept pushing the wrong ones on its own, now it says its disabled and to connect to itunes but I dont have itunes on my computer and am unable to download it because I have a chromebook, what do I do?