While setting a passcode on the iPhone is the best way to keep your information safe, a drawback of doing so is if the user forgets the code. A security feature that Apple has incorporated into the iPhone is an automatic lock after six failed attempts. After the user fails to enter the correct code six times the iPhone becomes disabled for one minute. Each failed attempt after the first lock out period increases the time from one minute to five, then fifteen minutes and finally an hour.
This feature may work well for keeping other people out of your iPhone, but when you forget your own passcode it is a huge problem. Another problem that may occur with a forgotten passcode is the Erase Data feature. If the iPhone that the user cannot access uses the erase data feature on the eleventh failed attempt it deletes all the data on that iPhone. It is worth noting that erase data is not enabled by default, but it might be used for corporate iPhones or a personal phone that has sensitive data on it.
To avoid your data being erased, don’t try to unlock the phone more than nine times if you have forgotten the passcode. If you have forgotten the passcode to your iPhone, follow the steps detailed below in this guide to regain access.
The easiest way to unlock the iPhone is to back it up and restore it with iTunes. First, plug the iPhone into the computer that it is usually synced with. Open iTunes and select the device in the top right corner.
If the iPhone did not already begin a sync with the computer click Backup. This step is very important, because when the iPhone restores the information that syncs back to the device, it is from this backup.
After the backup is complete, select Restore Backup.
For users that have the Find my iPhone service enabled the following error will occur. Click OK.
To disable Find my iPhone, follow the steps in this post: How to turn Off Find my iPhone from Computer. After the Find my iPhone service is off, Select Restore Backup again.
On the next window it will show the latest backup of the iPhone with a date and time. To restore the backup to the iPhone, Select Restore.
The restore process depends on how much storage space you use up on the iPhone, so it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour for the restore to finish. After the iPhone restores, the device becomes unlocked and free to use once again.