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How to Recover Permanently Deleted Photos from an iPhone

How to Recover Permanently Deleted Photos from an iPhone

In the digital era, our iPhones serve as vaults for countless memories in the form of photos. However, what happens when those precious snapshots are seemingly lost forever? If you’ve accidentally deleted your cherished images, don’t despair. There are several methods to retrieve lost pictures, even after they’re permanently deleted from your iPhone. In this guide, I will take you through my personal journey to recover permanently deleted photos, sharing the strategies that helped me succeed. To further assist you, I recommend reading about how an issue similar to this is tackled when photos disappeared from iPhone, which describes some fixes you can try if your images vanish from the camera roll.


Common Scenarios:

Accidental Deletion 🗑

  • While attempting to free up space on my iPhone, I accidentally selected and deleted some important photos from the “Recently Deleted” album, making the deletion permanent.
  • During a routine cleanup, I mistakenly confirmed the deletion of an entire album that contained images I intended to keep.
  • My child gained access to my iPhone and unintentionally deleted some family pictures that were not backed up anywhere else.

Software Update Gone Wrong 🔧

  • I updated my iPhone to the latest iOS version, only to find out that some of my photos were missing after the update concluded.
  • In the process of jailbreaking my iPhone, something went awry, causing the loss of several photo albums.

Technical Mishaps 🛠

  • My iPhone suffered a severe crash, and upon restarting, I noticed that some of my photos were no longer in the photo library.
  • I experienced syncing issues between my iPhone and iCloud, leading to inconsistencies in my photo albums, including the disappearance of certain images.
  • Hardware failure, such as a malfunctioning storage chip, resulted in the corruption and subsequent loss of my precious photos.


Step-by-Step Guide. Recover Permanently Deleted Photos Iphone:

Method 1: Recover from Recently Deleted 🕒

  • Open the Photos app on your iPhone.
  • Scroll down and tap on the Albums tab.
  • Look for the Recently Deleted album and open it.
  • Select the photos you wish to recover, then tap Recover.
  • Confirm that you want to recover the selected photos.

Note: This method is only effective if the photos were deleted within the last 30 days and haven’t been removed from the Recently Deleted album.

Conclusion: Recovering photos from the Recently Deleted album is the first line of action and is astonishingly simple if the photos were recently deleted.

Method 2: Restore from an iCloud Backup 💾

  • Before proceeding, ensure that you have an iCloud backup that predates the photo deletion.
  • Visit on a computer and log in with your Apple ID credentials.
  • Navigate to Photos and check if your deleted photos are available online.
  • If your photos are not on, you may need to perform a full restore. On your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.
  • After your iPhone restarts, follow the on-screen instructions to Restore from iCloud Backup during the setup process. Choose a backup that contains the lost photos.

Note: Restoring from an iCloud backup will replace all the current data on your iPhone with the data from the backup, so proceed with caution.

Conclusion: If the photos you’re looking to recover are included in a previously made iCloud backup, this method can be highly effective, albeit with the risk of data replacement.

Method 3: Retrieve from iTunes/Finder Backup 🖥

  • Connect your iPhone to a computer where you have previously performed a backup using iTunes (on macOS Mojave or earlier/Windows) or Finder (on macOS Catalina or later).
  • Open iTunes or Finder, depending on your operating system.
  • Select your device when it appears in the software.
  • Choose Restore Backup and pick the most relevant backup that contains your lost photos.
  • Click Restore and wait for the process to complete.

Note: Similar to the iCloud recovery method, this will replace the data on your iPhone with the selected backup’s contents.

Conclusion: If you regularly back up with iTunes or Finder, this method can be a lifesaver, fully restoring your iPhone, including your accidentally deleted photos.

Method 4: Use Third-Party Recovery Software 🛠

  • Download and install a reputable third-party data recovery software on your computer.
  • Connect your iPhone to the computer and launch the recovery software.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to scan your iPhone for recoverable photos.
  • Preview the found photos, select those you wish to recover, and proceed with the recovery process.
  • Save the restored photos to your computer.

Note: Not all third-party software can guarantee recovery, and some may require a purchase for full functionality.

Conclusion: Third-party recovery software can be a powerful option, capable of retrieving photos that other methods cannot, though often at a cost.

Method 5: Check Other Devices Synced with iCloud 🔄

  • If you have other devices (like an iPad or Mac) synced with the same iCloud account, open the Photos app on those devices.
  • Search for the deleted photos in the Recently Deleted album or the main photo library.
  • If found, you can share them back to your iPhone via AirDrop, email, or through iCloud Photo Sharing.

Note: This method only works if the photos were not deleted from the synced devices or iCloud itself.

Conclusion: Leveraging other devices synced with your iCloud account can unexpectedly save the day, offering a simple way to restore your lost memories.


Youtube video to watch


Precautions and Tips:

Backup Strategies to Prevent Loss 🛡

  • Regularly back up your iPhone to iCloud or a computer to protect against accidental deletion.
  • Consider using additional cloud services like Google Photos or Dropbox for extra redundancy.
  • Enable iCloud Photos to keep your entire photo library securely saved and updated across all of your devices.
  • Be vigilant when giving your iPhone to children or others who might unintentionally delete content.


Data Recovery Insights

Photo loss on an iPhone can be an incredibly stressful event, especially if the deleted photos hold sentimental value. Beyond the methods I’ve outlined, it’s important to understand the technical side of data recovery. When you delete a photo from your iPhone, it isn’t immediately removed from the device’s storage. Instead, the space it occupies is marked as available to be overwritten by new data. This means that quick action is crucial for recovery, ideally before taking new photos or downloading apps that could overwrite the ‘deleted’ images.

Furthermore, legal software such as the Digital Forensics Framework or open-source tools like Photorec can sometimes be used for photo recovery, although these techniques generally require a higher level of technical skill and carry their own set of risks. It’s best to use professional services if this path is considered.

Lastly, remember that preventing data loss is always easier than recovery. Practicing good digital hygiene, regularly backing up your data, and being mindful of physical device security are the best strategies for keeping your data safe.


In wrapping up my detailed guide on recovering permanently deleted photos from an iPhone, it’s clear that there are multiple avenues to explore. Whether you utilize built-in recovery options, rely on backups, or resort to third-party software, there is a good chance of getting your precious photos back. However, prevention is always better than cure. Regular backups and careful handling of your iPhone can help you avoid photo loss scenarios. Remember, when an unexpected deletion occurs, quick and informed action can mean the difference between anguish and relief.


Yes, if permanently deleted photos were removed recently, they might still be recoverable from the iTunes or iCloud backup, or using a third-party recovery tool.

Once photos are permanently deleted from the 'Recently Deleted' folder, the iPhone doesn't have a built-in feature to restore them.

If iCloud Photos was enabled, you can restore your photos from iCloud by recovering a previous backup that contains the deleted photos.

Yes, if you’ve previously backed up your iPhone with iTunes, you can restore your iPhone from that backup to recover deleted photos.

There are multiple third-party recovery software options that claim to help recover lost data, including photos from an iPhone.

Yes, resetting to factory settings can potentially override the space where deleted photos were stored, making recovery more difficult.

The sooner you attempt to recover the deleted photos, the better, as continuing to use the device can overwrite the data.

Without a backup, recovery options are limited, but third-party software might be able to recover photos by scanning the device's storage.

Apple doesn’t offer a service specifically for photo recovery, but they do provide general advice on restoring from iCloud or iTunes backups.

Yes, if the photos were deleted within the last 30 days, they can be restored directly from the 'Recently Deleted' folder in the Photos app.