- Hollis Johnson
- Apple includes a feature on your iPhone that erases all your phone’s data after 10 passcode attempts.
- The feature seems scary to most users, but it’s a lot harder to trigger than you’d think. In fact, it could take more than three hours of entering incorrect passcodes to erase your phone’s data.
- To turn it on, go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode > Erase Data.
For most people, setting up your iPhone to erase itself after too many failed password attempts sounds like a frightening idea – but there’s a very compelling reason you should enable the feature.
Hidden deep inside your phone’s settings is the option to erase all the data on your phone after 10 failed passcode attempts. This option stays turned off for a lot of people, and for an obvious reason: If someone in your life tries to unlock your phone and fails too many times, there’s the risk of losing everything.
But as Daring Fireball’s John Gruber points out, it’s not that simple. Here’s how he explains the feature (emphasis ours):
“After the 5th failed attempt, iOS requires a 1-minute timeout before you can try again. During this timeout the only thing you can do is place an emergency call to 911. After the 6th attempt, you get a 5-minute timeout. After the 7th, 15 minutes. These timeouts escalate such that it would take over 3 hours to enter 10 incorrect passcodes.“
So while it seems scary in theory, it’s highly unlikely that a child, significant other, or friend could accidentally erase all your data. On the flip side, turning this feature on could protect your phone’s sensitive data from falling into the hands of the bad guys if it’s lost or stolen.
Here’s how to turn it on: Open Settings, then scroll down to Touch ID & Passcode. You’ll be prompted to enter your passcode. Then scroll down to the bottom until you see Erase Data, and toggle it on.