RIM BlackBerry How To: Wipe Handheld Clean, Restore Factory Settings

In several situations, Research In Motion (RIM) BlackBerry users will want to delete all the data on their smartphones and restore their default settings. The following five-step process walks you through wiping your BlackBerry good and clean.

UPDATE: This post has been updated and modified for RIM's latest mobile OS, BlackBerry 6. Jump over to that updated story if you're using a RIM smartphone running BlackBerry 6.

Every Research In Motion (RIM) BlackBerry user should know certain basic techniques--BlackBerry hard and soft resets, data back up processes, memory management and optimization, for example--and how to wipe a BlackBerry and restore it to default settings surely also belongs on that list.

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Whether your organization is upgrading your current device and you need to exchange that old 7130 for a shiny new BlackBerry Bold, or you've decided to switch devices on your own and you're handing down an old BlackBerry to a friend, it's smart to wipe any and all sensitive information from your smartphone before passing it off, to ensure that your personal data remains private.

How to Wipe Your BlackBerry Clean and Delete All Device Data

Before starting the BlackBerry-wipe process, be sure to back up any information on the device that you don't want to lose. Once the device data deletion process is commenced, it cannot be stopped. For more on BlackBerry back up procedures, read "How to Back Up and Restore BlackBerry Data."

1) To begin deleting all the data on your RIM smartphone, click the Options icon on your BlackBerry home screen.

2) Next, select Security Options and then General Settings.

3) When the General Settings screen appears, hit your BlackBerry Menu key--which can be found directly to the left of the trackball on 81xx, 83xx, 88xx and 9xxx series devices--and choose the Wipe Handheld option.

screen shot of RIM BlackBerry Security Options General Settings Screen Menu

4) A dialogue box will then appear to warn you that you're about to initiate a full device wipe and ask you to confirm the action. You're also given the choice of including all third-party applications and related data in the deletion process. If you wish to keep third-party app information on your BlackBerry, you should leave the associated check box empty and hit Continue. If you want to delete any and all data on your BlackBerry smartphone, fill in the check box and then hit Continue

RIM BlackBerry data wipe warning dialogue box

5) As soon as you confirm that you want to perform a BlackBerry wipe and delete all your handheld data, another dialogue box appears as a final safeguard asking you to type the word BlackBerry to start the process. Complete the request and you're on the way to wiping your BlackBerry. (Note: The data deletion process can take about an hour depending on the amount of data stored on your BlackBerry device, especially if you have content compression enabled. For more on BlackBerry content compression and how the function can help save valuable device memory, read "How to Free Up BlackBerry Memory.")

RIM BlackBerry data wipe confirmation dialogue box

When the deletion process is complete, your BlackBerry restarts itself and another dialogue box appears to ask if you'd like to run the device Set Up Wizard. At that point, your BlackBerry is wiped clean of all data--unless you chose to let third-party app information remain--and factory settings are restored.

Got a broken BlackBerry keyboard that's keeping you from wiping your handheld using the process above? No worries, you can use any of a number of workarounds, including the free JL_Cmder application.

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