Deciding to erase the entire content of your SIM card is a radical step. It may not be reversible either, depending on how data destruction transpired. Therefore, you should get a good idea about what is stored in a SIM card before you proceed. We’ll mention a few things: SMS, contacts, and your subscriber identity, i.e., ICCID, PIN, PUK, and IMSI. We’ll try to cover different degrees of erasure, so you can change your mind. However, due to low demand, there isn’t a wealth of software-based methods to employ. Thus, before you learn how to delete all data from a SIM card, prepare to never see it again.
1. Erase crucial SIM card data manually
We want to preface this by saying the steps below largely depend on the version of Android and iOS. Manufacturers tend to modify stock Android and Google and Apple eradicate scarcely used features. Moreover, Apple is known to throw out features and functionalities that can be abused if they fall into the wrong hands. Thus, access to the SIM card may be pretty limited, if it’s ever offered. With that acknowledged, the instructions for deleting all data from a SIM card are as follows:
Though Android lets you view your SIM card information and perform a factory reset of your phone contents, there’s no option to also eradicate data from the SIM card. Instead, you’ll need to do it in an old-fashioned way, incrementally:
Reset your phone to factory settings (Optional)
We know—the amount of data doesn’t justify such as radical step. However, if you want to get rid of any ties between the SIM and your device, including the two below to an extent, it may be a procedure to consider. Make sure to backup all necessary data before you proceed. Then on Android 10, 11, and 12, go to Settings → System → Advanced → Reset options → Erase all data (factory reset) → Erase all data → Confirm the decision. Your device will restart.
Erase contacts, call logs, and SMS manually
Despite the fact you restored the phone to original settings and data that connected it to the SIM, the data on the card is still present and will load immediately. The first step is to delete contacts from the SIM card. The next is to delete all SMS and call history stored on a SIM card. Here’s how that procedure looks on Android 10 to 12:
- Head over to your Messages app.
- On the main menu, tap the 3-dot menu in the top right corner:
- Select Settings.
- Tap on Advanced.
- Go to SIM card messages.
- You’ll now see a list of all SMS that are stored on your SIM card. You can delete them one by one or in bulk.
- Now’s the time for getting rid of call logs. Start by heading over to your Calls or Phone app.
- Tap the three-dot menu in the upper right corner and select Call History.
- Open the same menu and select Clear call history.
With that, you managed to delete all data from a SIM card you could from the operating system. To erase your subscriber identification data, your best bet is to physically destroy a SIM card, although methods 2 and 3 may also work to a degree.
When it comes to iPhones, it’s hard to determine which versions of iOS versions the steps below apply. After all, Apple revitalizes the Setting interface with every operating system release. Therefore, you may have to do a little investigating yourself to see if yours allows it. Here’s how removing SIM card data works on iOS:
- Open Settings.
- Go to General.
- Find and tap the option named Device Management.
- Select your phone’s name on the list.
- Go to the bottom and tap on SIM Card.
- Choose Wipe Data, before tapping on Confirm to agree to data erasure. You may have to enter a PIN (Personal Identification Number).
- Wait for the “This operation may take up to one minute” message to disappear.
- Go back to the option from step 3.
- Tap on your carrier’s name on the list and go to SIM Card inside as well.
- Pick Unregister from the list.
With that, you removed all data and cut ties between your SIM card (and mobile network carrier, by proxy) and your device.
2. Delete all data from SIM card via card reader
Another thing you might contemplate is getting a SIM card reader/writer. It’s a portable and affordable device that gives you direct access to the storage of your SIM card on your computer. Since they usually come with proprietary software, we can’t demonstrate exact steps. Instead, here are general instructions about erasing the entire SIM card data using a SIM card reader:
- Open the SIM card drawer on the aforementioned device, and place your SIM card on it. Otherwise, insert the SIM into a designated slot (common with those that resemble a USB stick).
- Connect the writer/reader device to your computer via USB.
- Install third-party software and/or a necessary driver.
- You can now see the content of your SIM card, similar to a USB drive or external HDD.
- Highlight everything and use the Delete button on your keyboard or an eponymous option in the software’s menu.
- Give necessary permissions, and refresh the screen to double-check the data is gone. If necessary, empty your Recycle Bin/Trash Bin.
3. Utilize a third-party data wiping software
There isn’t a ton of high-quality and up-to-date software to choose from. Luckily, a reputable software vendor, Wondershare Dr.Fone, with whom we have zero affiliation, has adequate software we can use for demonstration. Though this particular software is exclusive to iOS, Android ones won’t be noticeably different.
Here’s how wiping data from your SIM card work using the Dr.Fone Data Eraser software works:
- Download and install the aforementioned app on a Windows or Mac PC.
- Connect your smartphone via USB to Lightning (mac) or USB 2.0+ (Windows) cable.
- You’ll now see a list of options appear on the “Home” page. Select Data Eraser.
- On the first screen, read the warning and click on Start.
- Enter the number on-screen to prove you’re a human before clicking on Erase Now.
- Your iPhone data will be erased, and the phone will reboot.