How to recover permanently deleted photos on iPhone with backup on iPhone?

Losing photos from your iPhone can be devastating, especially if they hold sentimental value or capture irreplaceable memories. Unfortunately, when you delete photos on your iPhone, they don’t automatically go to the “Recently Deleted” folder and can be permanently erased if you don’t have a backup. The good news is that if you did back up your iPhone before deleting the photos, you can use that backup to restore your lost images.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through all the steps and scenarios to recover permanently deleted photos on your iPhone using a backup. We will cover how to retrieve deleted photos from an iCloud backup, iTunes backup, and even a third-party backup. With the right backup available, you can rescue your precious memories even if you have deleted them from your iPhone’s camera roll.

What Happens When You Delete Photos on iPhone

Before diving into photo recovery, it’s helpful to understand what happens behind the scenes when you delete images on your iPhone.

When you delete photos on your iPhone, they are not sent to the Recently Deleted folder like other content such as messages, notes, and contacts. The photos are permanently erased from your iPhone unless you have a backup available.

This is because the Recently Deleted folder is only available for data that is stored in the internal iPhone storage. Photos are not stored directly on your iPhone. They are stored in the Photos app library, which keeps track of all your images across iPhone, iCloud and any synced computers.

So when you delete a photo on your iPhone, it is removed from this Photo library and permanently gone unless it exists in a backup source.

Where iPhone photos are stored

To summarize where photos are stored:

  • iPhone Storage: Photos you take on your iPhone or save directly to the Camera Roll are not stored in the internal iPhone storage. The iPhone storage only contains a thumbnail preview of the photos for quick viewing.
  • iCloud Photos: If you have iCloud Photos enabled, your photos are stored in your iCloud account. All your devices linked to iCloud Photos stay in sync automatically.
  • iTunes (or Finder on macOS Catalina and above): When you connect your iPhone to a computer, the photos are synced and stored in the Photos app library on the computer.
  • Other Locations: Your photos may also be stored on other cloud services like Dropbox if you use third-party apps that can back up your iPhone photos.

So in summary, deleted photos are permanently erased from the Photos library across all of these storage locations unless they were backed up beforehand.

This brings us to backup options for deleted photo recovery…

How to Recover Deleted Photos from iCloud Backup

If you had iCloud Photos enabled on your iPhone, your deleted photos may be lurking in an older iCloud backup, waiting to be restored.

Here are the steps to view and restore deleted photos from an iCloud backup:

  1. Check iCloud Backups: On your iPhone, go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Manage Storage > Backups to view a list of backups stored in iCloud.
  2. Select backup: Choose the desired backup that contains the deleted photos. This is likely a backup from before you deleted the photos.
  3. Restore backup: Tap on the backup, then tap Restore to recover deleted photos and other data from this backup. Your iPhone may restart during the restore process.
  4. View restored photos: Once the restore is complete, open the Photos app to view the photos that have reappeared from the backup. You can also view the photos on other devices signed into the same iCloud account.

A few things to keep in mind when using iCloud backups:

  • You must have been syncing photos with iCloud Photos before deleting the photos for them to be in the backup.
  • Photos are backed up every day when your iPhone is charging, locked, and connected to Wi-Fi. So you can only restore photos that were already backed up.
  • Restoring an iCloud backup also brings back other data like messages, notes, and device settings from that time.

If you only need the photos and not everything else in the backup, move onto the next section for more selective recovery.

How to Recover Deleted Photos from iTunes or Finder Backup

If your photos were synced to iTunes on a computer before you deleted them, you can restore just the photos from an iTunes or Finder backup (macOS Catalina or later) selectively. Here are the steps:

  1. Connect iPhone to computer: Connect your iPhone to the computer it was previously synced with via a USB cable. Open iTunes (Windows) or Finder (Mac).
  2. Select device backup: In iTunes or Finder, select your iPhone under the sidebar. Go to Summary (iTunes) or General (Finder) and click Manage Backups to view available backups.
  3. Restore photos only: Click Restore for the desired backup, then uncheck everything except photos. This will only restore photos from this backup.
  4. Import to Photos app: The restored photos will be saved to a folder on your computer. You can move them to the Photos app to view conveniently.

The main advantage of using a computer backup is you can selectively restore only photos instead of everything. However, your photos needed to be synced to the computer before you deleted them.

Where to find iTunes or Finder backups

iTunes and Finder do not store backups in an obvious location. Here is where to find iPhone backups on Windows and Mac:

  • Windows: `\Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\`
  • Mac: `/Users/[username]/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/`

Navigate to this path to access the backup files directly if needed.

How to Recover Deleted Photos Using Third-Party Backup

Besides Apple’s own iCloud and iTunes backups, you might also have third-party backups of your iPhone photos. For example:

  • Photo Stream: Automatically syncs your last 30 days of photos between devices. Can restore deleted photos if they were synced before deletion.
  • Dropbox: If you have the Dropbox app camera upload enabled, it can store all your iPhone photos.
  • Google Photos: Syncs iPhone photos if you are backing up to Google Photos. Can restore from trash for a period of time.
  • Phone backup services: Apps like iMazing create full backups of your iPhone locally or to the cloud that can restore deleted photos.

To recover deleted photos using a third-party backup:

  1. Check backup services: Log into each cloud service or app to see if they contain any backups of your deleted photos.
  2. Browse and restore: Navigate to the time before you deleted the photos. Restore the photos to your iPhone or download them to your computer.
  3. View photos: The restored photos should now be available in your Photos app or photo storage locations on your computer or iPhone.

The specific steps will vary for each backup service. But the general process is straightforward – simply restore photos from the external backup source.

How to Recover Deleted Photos Without Backup

What if you don’t have any backups containing the deleted photos? Is there any way to retrieve photos without a backup? Unfortunately the outlook is bleak, but there are a few options you could try:

  • iPhone data recovery software: Advanced tools like PhoneRescue claim to recover deleted photos from iPhone storage even without backup. However, this is hit-or-miss.
  • iCloud recently deleted folder: If you have iCloud Photos enabled, deleted photos stay in the Recently Deleted folder for 40 days. But you likely cleared this folder already.
  • App / cloud storage: If photos were saved to a third-party app like WhatsApp or cloud storage like Dropbox, you may be able to restore them from there.
  • Computer sync: Check the Photo Library on any computers synced to your iPhone via iTunes or Finder. The deleted photos may still be stored there.

Without an existing backup though, it is very unlikely you’ll get back deleted iPhone photos. That’s why it’s critical to maintain good backups so you always have peace of mind.

How to Prevent Deleted Photos in the Future

While backups are the key to recovering deleted photos, prevention is always better than a cure. Here are some tips to avoid losing photos forever:

  • Enable iCloud Photos: Syncing your photos with iCloud ensures they are always safely stored remotely in the cloud automatically.
  • Create manual backups: Occasionally do manual backups to iTunes/Finder and external services for redundancy.
  • Send photos to others: Share special photos with friends/family so copies exist elsewhere.
  • Use iCloud Recently Deleted: Enable Recently Deleted in iCloud Photos settings to keep deleted photos for 40 days before permanent deletion.
  • Double-check before deleting: Avoid bulk selecting images to delete. Review each photo before deletion just in case.

Following these preventative measures will minimize the chances of you losing your precious iPhone photos forever due to accidental deletion.


While it can be devastating to permanently delete photos from your iPhone, don’t lose hope just yet. As long as you had a backup in place before deletion, you can likely restore your photos using the original iCloud backup, iTunes/Finder backup or third-party backup. Always remember to keep reliable backups and avoid bulk deletion of photos without review. Follow the tips in this guide and you’ll have the peace of mind of being able to recover lost iPhone photos with a backup.