What Happens When You Restore from iCloud
When you restore your iPhone or iPad from an iCloud backup, you are essentially wiping the device and reverting it back to the state it was in when that iCloud backup was made. This can be useful if your device is experiencing software issues or glitches and you want a “clean slate”.
However, one downside of restoring from an iCloud backup is that any photos or videos that were taken after that backup was made will be deleted from your device. So if you took a bunch of new pictures that hadn’t yet been backed up to iCloud, they would be lost after the restore.
Photos and Videos Are Not Included in iCloud Backups
The key thing to understand here is that your photos and videos do not get included as part of your actual iCloud backup. The iCloud backup contains settings, app data, messages, etc. – but not your camera roll.
Instead, photos and videos are stored separately in your iCloud Photo Library. This is a distinct storage bucket from your iCloud backup.
So when you restore your device, the photos/videos in your camera roll get deleted. But your iCloud Photo Library remains intact in the cloud.
How to Recover Deleted Photos
Now that you understand what happens when restoring from iCloud, how do you actually get those lost photos back after a restore? Here are a few options:
1. Restore from iTunes Backup
If you happened to backup your device to iTunes on a computer, you may be able to restore from that iTunes backup instead. iTunes backups do contain your camera roll photos.
Connect your device to the computer, open iTunes, and look for the option to “Restore from iTunes backup”. This will retrieve the photos too.
2. Use iCloud Photo Library
As mentioned above, your photos should still exist in your iCloud Photo Library even after you restore your device. So you just need to re-download the photos:
- Open the Photos app and go to the Albums tab
- Tap the Recently Deleted album
- Select all photos and tap Recover
This will retrieve all your photos from iCloud and put them back in your All Photos album.
3. Check Other Devices
If you have other devices signed into the same iCloud account, the photos may still be present there. So check things like:
- Other iOS devices (iPhones/iPads)
- iCloud.com photos web app
- Mac Photos app (in iCloud section)
You may be able to transfer the photos from those other devices back onto your newly restored iPhone.
4. Use Third-Party Software
As a last resort, you can try third-party software that’s designed to recover deleted photos and videos from iOS devices. Some options include:
- Dr.Fone – PhoneRescue (iOS)
- Fonelab iOS Data Recovery
- EaseUS MobiSaver
- iMyFone iPhone Data Recovery
These tools scan your iPhone storage and attempt to retrieve deleted media.
Prevent This in the Future!
To avoid losing photos again when restoring an iCloud backup, make sure to manually back up your camera roll first.
You have two good options to do this:
Back Up to iCloud Photo Library
In the Photos app, go to Settings > iCloud Photos and enable iCloud Photo Library. This will automatically upload new photos/videos to iCloud as you take them.
Sync Photos to Computer
Connect your iPhone to a computer and sync images to the Photos app (Mac) or the Picture folder (Windows). This provides a secondary backup of your images.
Then when you restore from iCloud in the future, you’ll have multiple ways to retrieve your photos!
Restoring from iCloud Backup – Quick Summary
|What happens||How to get photos back||Prevent in future|
|Restoring from iCloud backup wipes device, including photos||Restore from iTunes backup instead; re-download from iCloud Photo Library; check other devices; use data recovery software||Enable iCloud Photo Library; sync photos to computer|
Following these steps will help ensure you maintain access to your photos even after an iCloud restore.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are my photos missing after an iCloud restore?
Photos are not included in your iCloud backup – they are stored separately in your iCloud Photo Library. So restoring from an iCloud backup deletes the photos that were taken after that backup was made.
Can I recover photos without a backup?
It’s very difficult to recover lost photos without any backup. Your best option is a third-party data recovery app designed for iOS devices. However, these tools are not always successful. That’s why it’s critical to maintain regular photo backups.
Where else are my photos stored?
Photos you take on your iPhone may also be stored in places like:
- iCloud Photo Library
- Other devices linked to your iCloud account
- iTunes (PC) or Mac Photos app (if you sync)
- Third-party photo services like Google Photos if you use auto-sync
Always check these locations if photos are ever lost or deleted.
Should I use iCloud Photo Library?
Yes, iCloud Photo Library provides an easy way to backup new photos automatically. It gives you a safety net in case you ever lose your device or need to restore from backup. Just make sure you have enough iCloud storage.
Can I re-download photos after deleting them?
If you delete photos from your iPhone’s camera roll, you can re-download them from iCloud Photo Library as long as you are still within the deleted photos retention period (30 days after deletion by default). So don’t panic if you delete a photo – you can likely get it back if it’s in the cloud.
Restoring your iPhone or iPad from an iCloud backup can cause photos taken after that backup to be deleted. Thankfully, there are multiple ways to recover lost photos – you just have to know where to look. Be sure to implement regular photo backups to both iCloud and your computer to prevent this issue. With proper backups in place, you should never have to worry about losing your precious photo memories.