Why can’t I see my recently deleted on Instagram?

It can be very frustrating when photos you have deleted from Instagram don’t show up in your “Recently Deleted” folder. This folder acts as a holding place for any content you delete from Instagram, where it remains for up to 30 days before being permanently erased.

If your recently deleted photos are not showing up in this folder, it typically means there is some type of syncing issue occurring between Instagram’s servers and the app on your device. There are a few possible reasons why deleted photos may not appear, which we will explore in this article.

How the Recently Deleted Folder Works

Instagram stores deleted photos and videos for 30 days in a Recently Deleted folder before permanently erasing them from their servers. This gives users a chance to recover content that may have been deleted in error.

The Recently Deleted folder launched in February 2021. Prior to this feature, any content deleted from Instagram was permanently erased immediately. Now items remain recoverable for up to 30 days.

According to Instagram’s launch announcement, “We’ve actually been working on this for a really long time because we know that sometimes people accidentally delete things that they didn’t mean to”[1]. The folder protects users from permanent mistakes.

Content stays in the Recently Deleted folder whether it was removed directly from the app or website, or via another connected app that deletes Instagram content. As the 30 day window expires, items will start dropping out of Recently Deleted automatically.

Common Reasons Photos Don’t Appear

There are a few common reasons why your recently deleted photos may not be appearing in your Recently Deleted folder on Instagram:

Account Privacy Settings: If you have your account set to private, your deleted photos will not appear in the Recently Deleted folder. Instagram does this to protect user privacy. You can check your privacy settings by going to your profile, tapping Settings, then Privacy. Make sure “Private Account” is disabled if you want to view deleted photos (source).

Glitches: Like any app, Instagram is susceptible to the occasional glitch. Sometimes there is a syncing issue where your deletions have not been properly recorded on Instagram’s servers yet. Try waiting and checking back later to see if your deleted photos appear (source).

Improperly Deleted: If you deleted photos from the Instagram app itself by swiping to delete, they will not show up in Recently Deleted. The folder only tracks photos you’ve deleted from within the folder. So be sure to only delete photos using the Recently Deleted section if you want them to appear there.

Checking Account Privacy Settings

To check if your Instagram account is set to private, go to your profile and look for a lock icon next to your username. This indicates your account is private. You can also go to Settings > Privacy > Account Privacy and ensure the toggle is switched on “Private Account”.

If your account is set to private, your photos and videos will only be visible to your approved followers. When you delete photos from a private account, they will immediately disappear from your profile for all followers. The photos will still go to the Recently Deleted folder, but only you as the account owner will have access to view them there.

If your account is public, anyone can see your photos before they are deleted. So followers or non-followers may have still saved or screenshotted your photos even if they are no longer on your profile. Having a public account means more people can potentially still access your deleted content through other means like caches or backups.

Checking your privacy settings is important to understand who may have had access to your photos before deletion, and whether they still could be retrievable by someone who interacted with them previously while public. But regardless of account privacy, Instagram’s policies mean deleted content is still automatically erased from their servers after 14 days.

Waiting for Photos to Sync

Sometimes there can be a delay between when you delete a photo on Instagram and when it actually disappears from your account. This is because Instagram needs time to sync the deletion across its servers.

It’s normal for it to take up to an hour for a deleted photo to disappear from your Recently Deleted folder and be permanently removed from Instagram’s servers. The app needs time to communicate with Instagram’s servers to update your account’s status.

If you don’t see a deleted photo in your Recently Deleted folder, first wait an hour or two for the app to finish syncing. You can also try force quitting the Instagram app and re-launching it to refresh the feed.

In most cases, the deleted photos will show up within a few hours once the account is fully synced. But if you still can’t see the deleted photos after several hours, there could be a different issue, like the photos being improperly deleted.

Overall, sync delays are common and expected when deleting Instagram photos. Be patient, give it some time to update, and the deletions should display as expected.

Improperly Deleting Photos

One common reason photos may not appear in your Recently Deleted folder is if you improperly deleted them from your account. There are two main ways to delete content on Instagram – deleting individual photos/videos, and deleting your entire account.

When you delete a specific photo or video from your profile, it will be moved to the Recently Deleted folder for 14 days before being permanently erased. However, if you choose to delete your entire Instagram account, the content will be immediately and permanently removed without going to the Recently Deleted folder first.

So if you intended to only remove certain posts but accidentally requested to delete your account instead, all of your content will be wiped from Instagram right away. The Recently Deleted folder only works as a holding place for media when deleted individually – not for recovering content after deleting the account.

To avoid this issue in the future, be sure not to confuse the options for deleting specific posts/media and deleting your account. Pay close attention to the wording when you request to remove content. This will ensure your photos and videos are properly sent to the Recently Deleted folder before being permanently erased from Instagram.

Source: https://help.instagram.com/711062676142607

Instagram Glitches

Sometimes an Instagram glitch or bug can prevent your deleted photos from appearing in your Recently Deleted folder. This typically occurs if the app fails to properly sync the deletion across Instagram’s servers.

According to an article on The Verge, Instagram had a bug that retained deleted photos and messages on its servers for over a year after they were deleted from a user’s account (source). This glitch was fixed in August 2020.

If you are missing deleted photos due to an Instagram bug, there are a few things you can try. First, update to the latest version of the Instagram app. Then, log out and back into your account. You can also try deleting and reinstalling the app to force a fresh sync. If the issue persists, you may need to wait for Instagram to fix any server-side glitches.

Recovering Deleted Photos

If you delete a photo or video by accident, you may be able to recover it from your Recently Deleted folder for up to 30 days. Here are the steps to restore deleted Instagram content within 30 days:

1. Tap the profile icon or your profile picture in the bottom right corner to go to your profile page (source).

2. Tap the menu icon in the top right corner, then tap “Your Activity” (source).

3. Select “Recently Deleted”. This will show you any photos, videos, reels, or stories you’ve recently deleted.

4. Tap “Restore” next to any content you want to restore. The content will be added back to your profile.

Keep in mind photos and videos remain in the Recently Deleted folder for only 30 days. After that time, the content is permanently deleted.

Permanently Deleting Photos

When you delete photos, videos, reels, IGTV videos, or stories from Instagram, they are moved to your account’s Recently Deleted folder. According to Instagram’s help article, content in the Recently Deleted folder will be permanently deleted automatically after 30 days.

So if you delete something from Instagram, it is not immediately gone forever. You actually have a 30 day window where your deleted content will be stored in the Recently Deleted folder before being permanently erased.

Once the 30 day period ends, the deleted content cannot be recovered and will be permanently removed from Instagram’s servers. At that point, there is no way to retrieve or see the deleted photos, videos, reels, etc. The content is essentially gone for good after sitting in the Recently Deleted folder for a full month.

Essentially, the 30 day clock starts as soon as you send something to the Recently Deleted folder. After those 30 days are up, that content is permanently deleted whether you’ve cleared the folder or not. So remember that anything you delete is on a countdown until permanent erasure.


In summary, there are several main reasons why your recently deleted photos may not be appearing in your Instagram Recently Deleted folder:

  • Your account’s privacy settings are restricting the Recently Deleted feature
  • There is a delay in syncing deleted photos to the folder
  • You did not properly delete the photos from Instagram
  • There is a technical glitch with Instagram’s systems

To resolve this issue, first double check your account privacy settings and confirm the Recently Deleted option is enabled. Then, wait several hours for your deleted photos to sync to the folder. If they still do not appear, try deleting the photos again from Instagram. For photos that are missing due to a glitch, unfortunately those may not be recoverable. But in most cases, your recently deleted photos should populate in the folder within a day or two, allowing you to restore them if desired.

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