Deleted photos back in iOS 17.5? Apple offers explanation and fix

Did a recent iOS update bring back deleted photos on your iPhone? You’re not alone! A bug in iOS 17.5 caused some users to see photos they’d long deleted reappear in their libraries. This triggered privacy worries, but fear not—Apple quickly released a fix and clarified the issue.

iOS 17.5

After updating to iOS 17.5, some iPhone users reported seeing photos they had deleted months or even years ago reappear in their photo libraries. These reports quickly spread across social media and tech forums, causing widespread alarm. Users noted that these reappeared photos were often from years past, far exceeding the usual 30-day window in which deleted photos are temporarily stored.

Apple’s explanation

Apple initially addressed the bug in the iOS 17.5.1 release notes, attributing the issue to “database corruption.” However, many found this explanation insufficient. To clarify, Apple provided additional details to 9to5Mac. They emphasized that the problem was not related to iCloud Photos. Instead, it resulted from corrupted database entries on the affected devices.

Apple explained that the reappeared photos were stored locally on the devices and never synced to iCloud Photos. The glitch occurred because corrupted data allowed these deleted photos to bypass Apple’s standard deletion protocols. This issue was particularly problematic for users who transferred data from old devices to new ones, carrying over the corrupted database entries.

The incident raised significant privacy concerns. Apple, known for its robust privacy policies, faced scrutiny over this incident. The unexpected reappearance of potentially sensitive photos distressed users and undermined confidence in Apple’s data management practices.

Apple reassured users that no one, including Apple, had access to these reappeared photos. It stressed that if a device is completely erased using the “Erase All Content and Settings” option, all data is permanently deleted, preventing such issues from arising on sold or transferred devices.

Manual deletion required

While iOS 17.5.1 addressed the bug, it did not automatically remove the reappeared photos. Affected users must manually delete these images again. Once deleted, the photos move to the “Recently Deleted” album, where they remain for 30 days unless manually removed.

  1. Open the Photos app.
  2. Navigate to the Recently Deleted album.
  3. Select the photos you wish to permanently delete.
  4. Choose Delete from All Devices.

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About the Author

Asma is an editor at iThinkDifferent with a strong focus on social media, Apple news, streaming services, guides, mobile gaming, app reviews, and more. When not blogging, Asma loves to play with her cat, draw, and binge on Netflix shows.