Apple Sheds More Light on iOS 17.5 Bug That Resurfaced Deleted Photos

Last week, some iPhone users reported that Apple's iOS 17.5 update had introduced a bug that caused old photos that were deleted to reappear in the Photos app. Apple quickly released an iOS 17.5.1 update to fix the issue, but for many users, its explanation of "database corruption" in the release notes was all too brief, and did little to allay concerns about the privacy of their data.

iOS 17
Apple has now offered more details on the problem and what caused it. Speaking to 9to5Mac, Apple reportedly said the issue had nothing to do with iCloud Photos, and the company never had access to the deleted photos. Rather, a corrupted database entry on affected devices was the cause of deleted photos reappearing. In other words, the deleted images that were restored resided locally and never left those devices.

Apple said that in some rare cases iOS 17.5 had inadvertently restored files from the corrupted data and repopulated the Photos app with the deleted images. Apple claimed the issue affected a small number of users and a small number of photos.

To explain reports that some restored photos were very old, Apple said that in some cases the corrupted data may have been copied from one device to another when restoring a local backup, performing a device-to-device transfer, or restoring an iCloud device backup (i.e. not involving iCloud Photos).

One claim that was posted on Reddit, which has since been deleted, alleged that the user's photos reappeared on an iPad that had been erased and sold to a friend. Apple said that this could not have been the case if the user had wiped the device prior to sale using the Erase All Content and Settings option found in Settings ➝ General ➝ Transfer or Reset. Either the user had not performed this necessary step, or the claim was false.

Notably, Apple's iOS 17.5.1 update to rectify the issue does not remove any previously deleted photos that reappeared after updating to iOS 17.5. Affected users will therefore need to manually delete these images again, and they will be moved to the Recently Deleted album in the Photos app, where they will remain for 30 days. Recently deleted photos in this folder can also be immediately deleted by choosing Delete from All Devices.

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Top Rated Comments

EmotionalSnow Avatar
4 weeks ago

Really not a satisfactory response from Apple's side. I guess we'll never know the whole truth.
Huh? What else do you want them to say?

This is all there is to the story. I know because somebody on Twitter posted the actual code change made with the update fixing this bug.
Score: 61 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dz5b609 Avatar
4 weeks ago

Really not a satisfactory response from Apple's side. I guess we'll never know the whole truth.
If you know anything about data and data deletion then what Apple said is a clear enough answer as to what happened. If you think deleting a file means it's gone from your storage (on any kind of device) then yeah nothing will be satisfactory.
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
aevan Avatar
4 weeks ago

Really not a satisfactory response from Apple's side. I guess we'll never know the whole truth.
If you’re into conspiracy theories, then no. Otherwise - you now know pretty much all you need to know.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
adrianjagielak Avatar
4 weeks ago

Care to share?
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
vegetassj4 Avatar
4 weeks ago
Great, there goes the “Honey, that’s not my mistress, that’s a bug in the iPhone Photos“ excuse.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Sheepish-Lord Avatar
4 weeks ago

Took them a week to respond which is a lot of time to clarify such bug.
You have to investigate stuff like this before putting out a response.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)