Apple elaborates on iOS 17.5 bug that resurfaced deleted photos – 9to5Mac

Earlier this week, Apple released iOS 17.5.1 to address a rare problem where deleted photos would reappear on a user’s device after installing iOS 17.5. In the release notes, Apple said this was caused by “database corruption.” The company has now confirmed a few additional details to 9to5Mac to further clarify the situation.

iCloud’s involvement

One question many people had is how images from dates as far back as 2010 resurfaced because of this problem. After all, most people aren’t still using the same devices now as they were in 2010. Apple confirmed to me that iCloud Photos is not to be blamed for this. Instead, it all boils to the corrupt database entry that existed on the device’s file system itself.

According to Apple, the photos that did not fully delete from a user’s device were not synced to iCloud Photos. Those files were only on the device itself. However, the files could have persisted from one device to another when restoring from a backup, performing a device-to-device transfer, or when restoring from an iCloud Backup but not using iCloud Photos.

Photos reappearing on sold devices? Nope.

In a now-deleted post, a Reddit user last week alleged that their photos reappeared on an iPad they sold to a friend, despite them having erased the content of that iPad prior to selling it. Apple tells me that this claim was false.

The company says that after a device has been completely erased using the steps below, all files and content are permanently deleted.

  1. Open “Settings”
  2. Choose “General”
  3. Choose “Transfer or Reset”
  4. Choose “Erase All Content and Settings”

Following these steps, everything is permanently deleted from the user’s device and there is no chance of old photos resurfacing down the line. In the Reddit user’s situation, they likely didn’t follow the correct steps when resetting their device before selling it … or they fabricated the situation hoping to earn some Reddit karma.

A rare problem

Apple repeatedly emphasizes that this problem was rare and affected a small number of users and a small number of photos. The company did not and does not access a user’s photos or video.

This is still a disconcerting issue, but there is comfort to be taken in the fact that the photos in question were not stored in iCloud and could not have resurfaced on a device after it was properly erased and sold.

Also to note: iOS 17.5.1 doesn’t automatically re-delete photos that reappeared after updating to iOS 17.5. If you were affected by this problem, you’ll need to go to the Photos app and manually delete those images. The images will then be moved to the “Recently Deleted” album in the Photos app, where they will remain for 30 days. You can choose to immediately delete those images by choosing “Delete from All Devices” in the “Recently Deleted” album.

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