Imagine you delete a photo from your iPhone. Any photo. A blurry photo of your puppy. Your selfie that didn’t come out quite right. Some nudes you sent to your ex. You deleted it, right? Are you sure? Oh, wait. Did you check Recently Deleted? Oops! Okay, you deleted everything from Recently Deleted. Your multiple nude photos (no judgement here) are gone.
Imagine that those photos are not deleted. Hypothetically. They are still accessible. Almost anyone can access them. Are you sitting down? Sit down. Your photos are not actually deleted.
They are still stored on Apple servers in some cases. Now, bear in mind that it only happens if you have iCloud Photo Library enabled on your device and your photos and videos are pushed to iCloud. If you’ve never used it before, you should be fine. But you’d be surprised how many people think that iCloud Photo Library is turned off on their device when in fact, it’s not. To check go to your iPhone Settings, navigate to Photos & Camera and see if the toggle next to iCloud Photo Library is on.
Anyway, how do we know? We could access them. Relax, not your photos. Long story short, we started developing a program that would help our customers back up and delete photos and videos from iCloud and found out that the supposedly “deleted” photos and videos are not actually being deleted.
So how does it work?
When you delete a photo from the Recently Deleted album it doesn’t get deleted by Apple. It gets marked as “deleted” and stays there for some time. In 2016 we could retrieve photos that were deleted more than 1 year ago! Unfortunately (or fortunately), Apple started deleting the photos from their servers faster, so now we can only rescue photos that were deleted up to a month ago.