Recovering deleted photos from an iPhone that were deleted over 6 months ago can be challenging. The iPhone has a limited period of time it stores deleted photos before overwriting that data. After about 30 days, deleted photos are typically overwritten and gone forever unless you have a backup. However, even after 6 months there are some methods that may be able to recover at least some of the deleted photos depending on the situation.
Why Photos Were Deleted
There are several common reasons photos may have been unintentionally deleted from an iPhone over 6 months ago:
- Running out of storage space. As iPhones start to run low on storage, the system will automatically delete older photos and videos to free up space. This could result in photos from over 6 months ago being deleted without the user realizing it.
- Clearing the camera roll. Sometimes users will clear their entire camera roll to free up space without thinking about old photos they still want to keep. This deletes everything at once.
- Accidentally deleting photos. It’s easy to accidentally select and delete the wrong photos when managing your camera roll. If you don’t notice right away, you could lose old photos.
- Updating to a new iOS version. In some cases, updating the iPhone’s operating system has resulted in photos being erased. This is rare but can happen.
- Doing a factory reset. If you did a full factory reset of your iPhone 6+ months ago, this would have wiped all photos at the time unless they were backed up externally.
Recovering photos from 6+ months ago means they were likely lost due to one of these common issues clearing out older iPhone photos over time.
How iPhone Deletes Photos
When a photo or video is deleted from the iPhone’s Photos app, it is not immediately erased from the device’s storage. Instead, iOS moves the deleted photo into a “Recently Deleted” album that acts as a temporary holding place.
The deleted photos remain in this album for 30 days (in iOS 16 and later) before being permanently erased from the device storage. This gives users an opportunity to recover any photos or videos they may have deleted by accident within the past month.
So in essence, when photos are deleted on an iPhone, they are simply removed from your main Camera Roll or albums, but the actual image data remains in the device storage and can still be recovered during this grace period. The Recently Deleted album allows you a chance to rescue your photos before they are permanently gone.
See Apple’s iPhone user guide for more details on how the Recently Deleted album functions.
When photos are deleted on an iPhone, they are not immediately erased from the device’s storage. Instead, they are flagged as deleted and the space they occupied becomes available to be overwritten with new data. This provides a window of opportunity to recover recently deleted photos.
However, over time the deleted photos have a higher chance of being overwritten as new photos, apps, and other data get added to the iPhone’s storage. After 6 months, it becomes very unlikely that deleted photos still exist intact and recoverable. This is because an iPhone’s storage space is limited, so data tends to get overwritten within weeks or months.
According to EaseUS, a data recovery company, the chance of recovering deleted photos drops significantly after just 2 weeks. After 30 days, recovering deleted photos becomes very difficult and after 6 months it is close to impossible as the vast majority of deleted data will have been overwritten. https://www.easeus.com/iphone-recovery/how-to-recover-permanently-deleted-photos-on-iphone.html
Retrieving from iCloud Backup
If you had iCloud backups enabled on your iPhone 6 months ago, you may be able to retrieve the deleted photos from an old iCloud backup. iCloud automatically backs up your iPhone daily when connected to power, WiFi, and has over 50% battery, unless you have disabled iCloud backups.
To check for an old iCloud backup with your deleted photos:
- Go to Settings > Your Name > iCloud > Manage Storage > Backups on your iPhone.
- Look for backups from around 6 months ago when you may have still had the deleted photos on your iPhone. Tap on the backup to see when it is from.
- Restore your iPhone to the iCloud backup from 6 months ago that may contain the deleted photos by tapping on that backup and then “Restore” (this will overwrite your current iPhone data and settings).
- Once your iPhone is restored to the old backup, check if the deleted photos are now back in your Photos app.
The key is finding an iCloud backup from around the time you deleted the photos that you can restore to retrieve them. Just be aware restoring to an older iCloud backup will also bring back older data and settings that may replace current ones.
Using Data Recovery Software
One option to recover deleted photos on an iPhone from months ago is to use a dedicated iOS data recovery app. There are many reputable third-party software options that can scan the iPhone’s storage and find recoverable deleted photos, even from many months in the past.
According to independent testing, some of the top data recovery apps for iPhone include Dr.Fone, EaseUS MobiSaver, and FoneLab. These tools provide deep scanning capabilities to find and recover deleted photos and other lost data.
The data recovery process typically involves connecting the iPhone to a computer and allowing the software to scan the device. The apps preview found files before recovery, so you can target only the photos you want to restore. This is an advanced DIY method, but can recover photos even if deleted many months ago, as long as the storage space hasn’t been overwritten.
Recovering from iTunes Backup
One option to recover deleted photos from 6 months ago is by restoring from an iTunes backup. iTunes creates backups of your iPhone data including photos each time you sync your device. These backups are stored locally on your computer.
To retrieve deleted photos from an iTunes backup from 6 months ago, first connect your iPhone to your computer and open iTunes. In iTunes, click on your iPhone icon and then select “Restore Backup”. This will let you choose which backup to restore from – select the backup that is from around 6 months ago when the deleted photos would have still been on your device.
Restoring from this older iTunes backup will retrieve the photos that were deleted since then. Keep in mind this will also restore your iPhone to how it was 6 months ago, so you may lose any apps, messages, or other data added since. For this reason, you may want to instead use data recovery software to selectively extract just the deleted photos from your iTunes backup.
Enabling Recently Deleted Album
The Recently Deleted album in the Photos app acts as a temporary holding place for photos you delete from your iPhone. By default, the Recently Deleted album stores deleted photos for up to 40 days before permanently deleting them.
To enable the Recently Deleted album on your iPhone:
- Open the Settings app and tap “Photos”.
- Toggle on “Recently Deleted Album”.
With the Recently Deleted album enabled, you can restore deleted photos for up to 40 days after deletion. Just open the Photos app, go to Albums, and scroll down to Recently Deleted to recover deleted photos.
If the Recently Deleted album is missing or disabled, enabling it in the Settings app will make it available again so you can recover photos deleted in the past 30-40 days . However, if more than 40 days have passed since the photos were deleted, they may no longer be recoverable through this method.
Tips to Avoid Needing Recovery
There are several things you can do to avoid needing to recover deleted photos from your iPhone in the future:
- Enable iCloud Photo Library – This automatically backs up all your photos and videos to iCloud. If you accidentally delete a photo, you can retrieve it from your iCloud backup for up to 30 days (citation).
- Don’t clear your camera roll – Deleting photos from your camera roll puts them in the Recently Deleted folder where they are kept for 30 days before being permanently deleted. Avoid mass deleting photos you may later want to recover.
- Use local backups – Back up your iPhone locally to your computer using iTunes or Finder. This provides a secondary backup if you don’t have iCloud enabled (citation).
- Download photos regularly – If you don’t back up your photos via iCloud or local backups, occasionally transfer photos to another device or storage medium so you have copies safe from accidental deletion.
- Be careful when deleting – Take extra care when selecting photos to delete. It’s easy to accidentally delete photos you intended to keep.
Following these tips will reduce the risk of needing to resort to data recovery software or other complex methods to retrieve deleted photos from your iPhone.
When Photos Are Unrecoverable
If the previous methods all fail to recover your deleted photos from 6 months ago, unfortunately those photos may be permanently lost. When you delete photos on an iPhone, they are not immediately erased from the device. Instead, they are moved to a “Recently Deleted” album where they remain for 30 days. After 30 days, the photos are permanently deleted.
So if more than 30 days have passed since the photos were originally deleted, the iPhone will have permanently erased them from its storage by that point. They will no longer be in the Recently Deleted album or able to be recovered using the previous techniques. The only way to recover photos deleted more than 30 days ago is if you had a backup of your iPhone from before they were deleted.
This highlights the importance of regularly backing up your iPhone photos. Whether you use iCloud backup, iTunes backup, or a third party backup service, having a backup provides you with a way to recover deleted photos even months or years later. Otherwise, once the 30 day window has passed, deleted photos are likely gone for good.
So if you’ve deleted photos that are now more than 30 days old, and you don’t have an old backup to restore from, those photos are probably unrecoverable at this point. Going forward, be sure to back up your iPhone regularly so you always have a way to retrieve lost photos and data if needed.