Many reasons exist for why you might want or need to "security wipe" a BlackBerry, or completely erase all personal data stored on your handheld: You got a new smartphone and plan to retire the older device; you're trading in your existing BlackBerry for a new one from your wireless carrier; you and a friend are swapping devices; you loaded too many applications or media and just want to start over from scratch; etc.
Whatever your reason, BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) makes it very easy to security wipe a BlackBerry using its latest mobile OS software, BlackBerry 6. Waaaaay back in the fall of 2008, I wrote a post on how to clean or wipe your BlackBerry smartphone running RIM's OS 5, so those of you with a BlackBerry 5 smartphone will want to jump over to that older tutorial.
The security-wipe process is very similar in both BlackBerry OS 5 and BlackBerry 6--in fact it's even more intuitive in the newer OS. And the following four steps will wipe your BlackBerry smartphone clean and restore the handheld to factory settings in no time. Keep moving for specifics. (Note: If you BlackBerry is connected to a corporate BlackBerry Enterprise Server BES, you may be unable to completely restore your device to factory settings, though you should still be able to wipe it clean, depending on the specific IT policies associated with your device. Check in with your BlackBerry administrator if you encounter issues.)
How to Security Wipe Your BlackBerry 6 Smartphone
1) Begin the BlackBerry security wipe process by opening up the main BlackBerry Options menu--the icon looks like a wrench when using the default BlackBerry theme. (Learn more about BlackBerry themes here.)
2) Next, scroll down to and select the Security option on the following screen, then choose the Security Wipe listing on the next page.
3) The Security Wipe screen displays a number of options and associated checkboxes that let you specific whether you want to delete E-Mail, Contacts, etc., User Installed Applications and/or all the data stored on your Media Card.
4) Finally, to initiate the process, type in the word "BlackBerry" in the confirmation field on the Security Wipe screen, accept any final confirmation pop-ups you may see, and voila, your BlackBerry device is on its way to its factory state. It may take up to an hour to completely wipe your device, depending on how many messages and other data you have stored on-device, so be patient.
When the deletion process is complete, your BlackBerry will restart 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 should be 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.
Check out a full list of all my BlackBerry tips and tricks stories on the CIO.com BlackBerry Bible page.