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Apple clarifies issue involving “resurrecting” deleted photos

…database corruption caused, only affecting a small number of users

Apple released the iOS 17.5.1 update on 21st May to fix the problem of “resurrecting” deleted photos. After the official log made it clear that the problem was caused by “database corruption”, Apple now further explained and clarified the issue.

Reasons for “Resurrection”

Apple said that the photos that were “resurrected” this time were mainly user photos before 2010. Apple said that this problem should not be blamed on iCloud Photos but on the corruption of database entries in the device file system itself.

According to Apple, photos that were not completely deleted on the user’s device are not synced to iCloud Photos, and these files only exist on the device itself.

However, these files may persist from one device to another when restoring from a backup, performing a cross-device migration transfer, or restoring from an iCloud backup without using iCloud Photos.

Do photos reappear on sold devices? No

A Reddit user posted a post last week saying that the iPad he sold to a friend had photos of the original owner on it. Apple confirmed to 9to5Mac that this statement was false.


The company says that once you completely wipe your device using the steps below, all files and content will be permanently deleted.

  • Open Settings

  • Select General

  • Select Transfer or Reset

  • Select Erase All Content and Settings

By following these steps, everything on the user’s device will be permanently deleted and the old photos will no longer appear. In this Reddit user’s case, they most likely didn’t follow the correct steps when resetting their device before selling it… or they fabricated the situation in hopes of getting some Reddit attention.

Apple stressed that this problem is rare and not many users are affected

Apple has repeatedly stressed that the issue was extremely rare and affected only a small number of users and a small number of photos. The company promised that it had no access to users’ photos or videos in the past or present.

Part of the reason is also because of the way NAND storage works in general. When you issue a delete command, the files on NAND storage are not actually deleted; instead, the space they occupy is marked as available for future use. The actual data remains unchanged until new data is written to it, which is why professional software can usually recover “deleted” files.

Other notes:

After affected users upgrade to iOS 17.5.1, the update will not delete the reappearing photos, and users will need to go into the Photos app and manually delete these images.

James Ovie
James Ovie
James Ovie is a tech Blogger with vast experience in mobile devices and other gadgets.

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