iOS Passcode: Waiting Intervals for Failed Attempts

You should always use a passcode on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to protect your mails and other sensitive data. Even if you think “my data isn’t that important” keep in mind that anybody who has access to your iOS device (e.g. your stolen phone) can check where you have your mail or online shopping accounts and reset your password. The new password gets sent to your mail address which is accessible through your device. Even if the provider (a potential thief wants to reset your password at) requires additional data like the full address, your birthday or some information about your parents: you most likely lose. There is lots of data like this in your mails and address book.

Are you setting a passcode yet? Good. It’s located under Settings → General → Passcode Lock. Apple has a more thorough explanation.

While you’re at it: do yourself a favor and activate Erase Data. This will wipe your device after ten failed passcode attempts. “Just ten attempts? What if a prankster or small child has my iPhone?” I’m glad you asked:

After the sixth incorrect passcode your iPhone will be disabled for one minute. Another failed attempt afterwards and add another five minutes of waiting time. The following table lists the waiting times which are missing from Apple’s knowledge base document on this topic.

Failed Attempts Added Waiting Time Total Waiting Time
1 to 5 none none
6 1 minute 1 minute
7 5 minutes 6 minutes
8 15 minutes 21 minutes
9 60 minutes 81 minutes
10 60 minutes 141 minutes
11 black screen wiped device

After eleven failed passcode attempts (which take at least two hours and 21 minutes) your device’s screen will go black and all data will be deleted. After that you can always restore from your last backup made with iTunes — sync every day!

Getting my new iPhone 4 gave me the opportunity to try this on my 3GS; tortured in the name of science!

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10 Responses to “iOS Passcode: Waiting Intervals for Failed Attempts”

  1. Trackback from Securing your iOS devices | Cyber Crime 101

    […] attempts and you’ve got youself a pretty secure device.  Daniel Gattermann over on his Cinnamon Thoughts blog did some research on wait intervals for failed login attempts on iOS devices when the “Erase […]

  2. Jade Forsythe says:

    If I have locked my iPhone 4 and I have to wait 60 minutes , how do I unlock my phone if someone has changed my password ?

  3. (post author) Daniel M. Gattermann says:

    Just search for “change forgotten passcode iOS” on the internet and you’ll find many sites explaining how to do it.

  4. Elena says:

    My phone locked after 10 failed attempts but I never have backed it up to iTunes! Ever but now it just won’t let me unlock it
    Even with the right password! I plugged in to iTunes no luck, help me plz

  5. (post author) Daniel M. Gattermann says:

    You should talk to Apple or go to

  6. Fives says:

    As of iOS 7.1 on the 10th failed it locks for 1 minute. The 11th failed is 5 minutes wait time. I suspect each sunsequent failed attempt will increase in the intervals from the table above.

  7. Tasha says:

    If you don’t have your phone set to wipe the data, it won’t do it on that 11th time. The phone will ask you to connect to itunes. I did that and clicked make backup which triggered it to allow me to try to enter the password again and restart the sequence. Then I ran out of tries, hit locked device again. I did a hard reboot of my phone and connected it again (to my authorized computer) and clicked make a backup and I got to try again. After 4 more tries I finally entered my password correctly. I wrote down all the passwords I tried, but I made a mistake in the beginning and the password was what I thought it should be, it’s just I thought I’d already tried it. I believe with this method, if you have an authorized computer, you can keep trying all your possible passwords until you get it right.

  8. Jolene says:

    Thank you so much Tasha, great advice there.

  9. Shelby says:

    i need help it wont let me back it up because of the password on it but i dont want to have to reset it because it hasnt been backed up in a while sp how do i get into it without having to reset it?

  10. (post author) Daniel M. Gattermann says:

    Shelby, there’s no way I’m aware of to backup your iPhone without you knowing the passcode. Otherwise your data wouldn’t be safe at all, which would defeat the purpose of the passcode.
    You should check with Apple to make sure you’re not missing any options, though.

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