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Apple explains why iOS 17.5 restored your deleted photos – and what you can do now

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Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Two weeks ago, reports began appearing of an unusual iPhone and iPad bug. Following Apple’s iOS 17.5 and iPadOS 17.5 updates, photos that users had deleted years earlier were resurfacing, even on devices that users had wiped clean.

Last week, Apple issued a patch, which the company said “provides important bug fixes and addresses a rare issue where photos that experienced database corruption could reappear in the Photos library even if they were deleted.” The bug only affected a small number of users and a small number of photos, Apple said, but for those users, it was pretty unsettling.

Also: How to transfer data from Android to an iPhone: 2 quick and simple ways

While Apple initially blamed the issue on “database corruption,” the company is now explaining more precisely what caused the problem.

Speaking to 9to5Mac, Apple elaborated that the issue wasn’t with iCloud Photos, but with the databases on the devices themselves. In short, the restored photos were ones not synced to the cloud. When a device was restored from a backup — or from a device-to-device transfer — some of those photos were restored as well (from the device backup, not from iCloud). 

If you want to make sure your deleted photos are truly gone, here’s what Apple recommends you do. (Note: This is only for times when you want to wipe a device clean of everything.) Under Settings, head to General, and then “Transfer or Reset.” You’ll see an option to “Erase All Content and Settings.” Tap that, and everything on your phone will be deleted, with no chance of your data coming back in the future.

Apple says that the once-deleted, now-resurrected photos will not automatically be deleted again. You’ll need to manually go in and remove them yourself.

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