TMCnet Feature
December 01, 2020

Accidentally deleted iPhone photos? Here's how to get them back and prevent future accidents

Phones have become extensions of ourselves. We use them to keep in touch with our loved ones, to look up information, and, of course, to cherish our best memories. Your iPhone (News - Alert) is a must-have tool for communication, but it’s also one giant photo album.

In 2014, smartphone users already uploaded over 1.8 billion images in the cloud every year. That accounts for a whopping 657 billion photos every year, and that number is probably even higher now. Think of it another way: in just two minutes, people take more pictures than there existed at the end of the 19th century! It sounds crazy, but it’s not that surprising, considering that smartphone cameras are so ubiquitous and they’re becoming more powerful with every flagship.

Nowadays, you no longer have to be a professional photographer to afford a good camera and take great photos. You already have a brilliant camera in your pocket, and the possibilities are limitless. From the most important moments of your life to spontaneous selfies and random snapshots taken on the way to work, your Photos album tells your life story in visual form. And when some of your photos disappear, it’s normal to feel a bit panicked.

Fortunately, it’s not just camera quality that’s advancing thanks to technology. Cloud services and recovery tool are becoming better too, which means that you can now recover your iPhone photos easily if you accidentally delete them and avoid accidents from happening again.

How can I recover deleted iPhone photos?

1. Open the “Recently deleted” folder.

When you delete a photo, Apple (News - Alert) doesn’t remove it from your device right away. Instead, the file is moved to the “Recently deleted” folder, which you can find under “Utilities” in the Albums tab. Think of it as the equivalent of the Recycling Bin for your iPhone. Apple will store your photos here for 30 days, so if you delete a photo by mistake or just happen to change your mind later, you can simply look for it here and then tap on “Recover”. This will restore your photo back to its rightful place in the Photos app.

Tip: Make sure you look in the Hidden folder too. You may have flagged confidential photos (such as copies of your IDs) as private, and those are kept in the hidden folder. 

2. Use a recovery tool to get back deleted photos from an iTunes backup. 

If you’ve cleared your “Recently deleted” folder or it’s been more than 30 days since you deleted the images, you might imagine that the files are lost for good. Getting them back will take a bit longer, but it can be done. For this solution, you will need a special data recovery tool. Once you install it on your Mac or PC, you can access previous iPhone backups from iTunes, and export your desired files from there. This works even if you or someone else has permanently deleted your photos. If you’re not sure when the deleted photos were taken, you can try restoring several backups until you find them.

How to avoid losing your iPhone photos

In this day and age, it’s great that iPhone users have efficient tools at their disposal to recover deleted images. But, ideally, we want to not be in this situation at all, so here are a few ways to ensure you don’t lose access to your photos.

Keep your photos on multiple devices. 

If you’re deep into the Apple ecosystem, make sure you sync all your devices. This way, the pictures you take on your iPhone will also appear on your iPad, Mac, even Apple Watch. If you delete a photo on one device, you can still see it on all the others.

Keep your photos safely in the cloud. 

Apple users have an iCloud account that stores all their data, photos included, and it’s pretty good. However, it has its faults, and it won’t help you too much if you run out of space. When purchasing extra storage is not an option, you can install other apps to safely store your photos in the cloud. This is an extra safety net and, if one app encounters an error, you can use another one.

Here are some of the best options on the market:

  • Dropbox
  • Google Photos
  • Microsoft (News - Alert) OneDrive
  • Flickr

The average of such tools is that if you decide to switch from iOS to Android, it’s easier to migrate the photos from these apps than use iCloud. Also, if you want to share a photo or album with someone, you can easily generate a link to them from the apps.

Things to consider when choosing cloud storage for your photos: 

  • Storage space. If you only have a couple of photo albums to back up, just about any app will do. However, if you have thousands of images, then you may want a tool like Google (News - Alert) Photos, which offers 15GB of high-quality photo and video storage.  
  • Image format. Most people only need JPEG files. However, if you’re a content creator and you also need other formats, such as RAW, your options will be limited. For example, Flick only accepts JPEG files.
  • Freemium. After you exhaust the free storage space, you want an app that offers you a good bargain, whether that comes under the form of a monthly subscription or a one-time lump sum.
  • Design. Some apps are better suited for photo storage than others. For example, Flickr was designed specifically for images, and it showcases them beautifully, in albums. OneDrive, however, is more for general use and collaboration and doesn’t really make your photos shine.

If you want to be extra careful about your privacy, or there’s always the good old solution: keeping a backup of your photos on an external hard drive or thumb drive. Recovering photos from a hard drive is as easy as drag and drop, but it’s the safest solution. Physical storage can malfunction after a few years, and if that happens, recovery is much harder, sometimes impossible.

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