How long do deleted items stay in iCloud?

iCloud is Apple’s cloud storage platform that syncs data across iOS, iPadOS, macOS devices as well as Windows. When a file, photo, email, etc. is deleted from an iCloud-connected device or app, it gets marked for deletion but isn’t immediately wiped from Apple’s servers. Deleted data remains in iCloud for varying amounts of time depending on the data type before being permanently erased.

Default Retention Period

When you delete an item from iCloud, such as an email, contact, calendar event, or file, it is not immediately erased. Instead, Apple gives you a grace period of 30 days to recover deleted items before they are permanently removed. This is known as the default retention period.

For 30 days after deletion, the items continue to occupy space in your iCloud storage quota. However, they are marked for deletion and hidden from view in the iCloud interface and apps. You have this window to find and restore items you may have accidentally or intentionally deleted.

After 30 days, the items are permanently erased from iCloud servers and can no longer be recovered. At this point, they will also free up used storage space from your iCloud quota.

The 30 day retention period applies across iCloud services including Mail, Contacts, Calendars, iCloud Drive files, Photos library, and more. It allows a safety net to recover mistakes while also ensuring you aren’t storing unwanted data indefinitely.

You can manually override the retention period to immediately and permanently delete items, if desired. But by default, you get 30 days after deletion to reclaim data.

Recovering Deleted Items

When you delete an item from iCloud, it is not immediately erased. Deleted items are stored in iCloud for 30 days before being permanently deleted. During this 30 day period, you can recover recently deleted items like photos, emails, contacts, calendars, and documents.

To recover deleted items within the 30 day retention period:

  • Go to and login to your account.
  • Click on the app you want to recover files from, such as Photos or Mail.
  • Find and click the “Recently Deleted” folder.
  • Select the items you want to recover.
  • Click “Restore” to move the files back to their original location.

You can also go to Account Settings > Restore Files to recover recently deleted items from iCloud Drive and other synced apps. Just make sure to initiate the recovery within 30 days, or the items will be permanently erased.

According to Apple’s support site, “Recover files deleted from other apps”, deleted files are stored for 30 days before being permanently deleted from iCloud.

Permanently Deleting Items

Although deleted files and data are kept in iCloud for 30 days before being permanently erased, it is possible to manually permanently delete items right away so they are not recoverable.

To permanently delete files from iCloud Drive on, navigate to the Recently Deleted section in the sidebar and click on “Delete All” or select individual files you wish to permanently erase and click the “Delete” button. This will immediately and irreversibly remove the files so they cannot be recovered during the 30 day window (Source:

Likewise, individual emails, contacts, calendar events, reminders and other data can be permanently deleted instantly by finding the items in the Recently Deleted folders within each iCloud application and erasing them (Source: This prevents the 30 day window for possible recovery.

iCloud Storage Tiers

Apple offers different tiers of iCloud storage, with varying prices and features. The base iCloud plan is free and includes 5GB of storage. This plan has the shortest default retention period for deleted items. According to Apple’s support page, deleted photos, documents, and other files will be permanently erased after 30 days on the free iCloud plan.

Paid iCloud+ plans offer more storage and longer retention periods before permanent deletion. The iCloud+ 50GB plan is $0.99/month and keeps deleted items for up to 90 days before permanent erasure. Higher tiers like 200GB ($2.99/month) and 2TB ($9.99/month) extend the retention period to 120 days. So users who want the ability to recover deleted data for a longer period before permanent deletion should consider upgrading to a paid iCloud storage plan.

The extended retention periods on paid plans provide a safety net for recovering accidentally deleted photos, documents, emails, and other iCloud data. Users can avoid permanent data loss by retrieving items within the retention window. But after the retention period expires, deleted iCloud items are gone for good on all plan tiers.

Deleted Photos

When you delete a photo or video from your iCloud Photos library, it gets moved to the Recently Deleted folder where it will stay for 30 days before being permanently deleted. This gives you a 30 day window to recover deleted photos and videos if you change your mind.

According to Apple’s support page, “If you don’t recover the photos or videos before 30 days have passed, they will be permanently deleted from iCloud.” (1)

Once the 30 day retention period expires, it seems the photos are permanently deleted from Apple’s servers. As one Reddit user explained, “No one can say for sure but most companies do keep records for 6 months – 10 years. It differs from company to company.” (2)

So in summary, deleted iCloud photos are retained for 30 days in the Recently Deleted folder before being permanently deleted from Apple’s servers.

Deleted Emails

When an email is deleted in Mail on or the Mail app on iOS and iPadOS devices, it is moved to the Trash folder by default. Deleted emails will remain in the Trash folder for 30 days before being permanently deleted, according to Apple Support.

The retention period for deleted emails can be customized on Mac devices running macOS. In the Mail app preferences, you can change the setting for “Permanently erase deleted messages when” to 1 day, 1 week, or 1 month. On iOS and iPadOS, this setting does not appear to be customizable and remains at 30 days.

Once an email is permanently deleted from the Trash folder after 30 days, there is no way to recover it, even if you have not exceeded your iCloud storage limit. However, emails can be deleted manually from the Trash folder before the expiration period if you need to permanently erase them sooner.

Deleted Contacts

When you delete a contact from iCloud on your iPhone, iPad, or, it will remain in your “Recently Deleted” contacts folder for up to 30 days before being permanently deleted. According to Apple Support, deleted contacts may still appear in the archive for up to 24 hours after being deleted.

During this 30 day period, you can restore deleted contacts either on your iPhone by going to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud > Manage > Restore Contacts, or by going to and clicking “Restore” next to any contacts in the Recently Deleted folder. After 30 days, deleted contacts are permanently removed from iCloud servers.

If you need to restore contacts that have already been permanently deleted from iCloud, you will need an iCloud or iTunes backup of your device from before the contacts were deleted. You can use apps like iMazing to extract contacts from a backup and restore them to your device and iCloud account.

Deleted Calendars

When you delete a calendar in iCloud, it is not immediately erased. According to Apple Support, deleted iCloud calendars are retained for 30 days before being permanently deleted. During this 30 day period, you can recover deleted calendars from by going to Settings > Restore Calendars and selecting a date to restore from.

However, after 30 days, deleted iCloud calendars are permanently erased and can no longer be recovered. So if you need to access calendar events older than 30 days that were deleted, you will not be able to restore them from iCloud. Note that any calendars synced to your iPhone’s local storage will remain unless manually deleted.

One workaround is to make sure you have calendars from further back synced to your iPhone by adjusting the sync settings. You can sync up to 6 months or 1 year back according to iDownloadBlog. This will ensure you maintain a local backup of older events, even if deleted from iCloud.

In summary, deleted iCloud calendars are recoverable for 30 days before being permanently erased. Adjust your iPhone sync settings to keep a longer local backup of calendar data if needed.

Closing Summary

In summary, items deleted from iCloud are stored in a Recently Deleted folder for 30 days before being permanently deleted. You can recover deleted items during this 30 day period. After 30 days, items are permanently deleted from iCloud servers and can no longer be recovered.

It’s important to remember that any items deleted from iCloud will only be stored in the Recently Deleted folder temporarily. If you need to recover an item, be sure to check the Recently Deleted folder within 30 days. After that time, the item will be permanently gone from iCloud.

Setting up backups of your important iCloud data can also help protect against accidental deletion. That way you have another copy if something gets deleted from iCloud unexpectedly. Just remember that iCloud retention policies will eventually permanently remove deleted items after 30 days.