Become a MacRumors Supporter for $50/year with no ads, ability to filter front page stories, and private forums.

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
64,140
31,858


Last week, some iPhone users reported that Apple's iOS 17.5 update had introduced a bug that caused old photos that were deleted to reappear in the Photos app. Apple quickly released an iOS 17.5.1 update to fix the issue, but for many users, its explanation of "database corruption" in the release notes was all too brief, and did little to allay concerns about the privacy of their data.

iOS-17.5-Feature-Green-and-Purple.jpg

Apple has now offered more details on the problem and what caused it. Speaking to 9to5Mac, Apple reportedly said the issue had nothing to do with iCloud Photos, and the company never had access to the deleted photos. Rather, a corrupted database entry on affected devices was the cause of deleted photos reappearing. In other words, the deleted images that were restored resided locally and never left those devices.

Apple said that in some rare cases iOS 17.5 had inadvertently restored files from the corrupted data and repopulated the Photos app with the deleted images. Apple claimed the issue affected a small number of users and a small number of photos.

To explain reports that some restored photos were very old, Apple said that in some cases the corrupted data may have been copied from one device to another when restoring a local backup, performing a device-to-device transfer, or restoring an iCloud device backup (i.e. not involving iCloud Photos).

One claim that was posted on Reddit, which has since been deleted, alleged that the user's photos reappeared on an iPad that had been erased and sold to a friend. Apple said that this could not have been the case if the user had wiped the device prior to sale using the Erase All Content and Settings option found in Settings ➝ General ➝ Transfer or Reset. Either the user had not performed this necessary step, or the claim was false.

Notably, Apple's iOS 17.5.1 update to rectify the issue does not remove any previously deleted photos that reappeared after updating to iOS 17.5. Affected users will therefore need to manually delete these images again, and they will be moved to the Recently Deleted album in the Photos app, where they will remain for 30 days. Recently deleted photos in this folder can also be immediately deleted by choosing Delete from All Devices.

Article Link: Apple Sheds More Light on iOS 17.5 Bug That Resurfaced Deleted Photos
 

winxmac

macrumors 65816
Sep 1, 2021
1,178
1,391
Huh? What else do you want them to say?

This is all there is to the story. I know because somebody on Twitter posted the actual code change made with the update fixing this bug.
Care to share?

Will I experience the same if I upgrade from iOS 16.7 to iOS 17.5

I never deleted photos but I just perform a remote wipe by logging in to iCloud.com and then set the device as new...

This is the first time as far as I can recall of being an iOS user since May 2016 [iOS 9.3.1] that this happened...
 
Last edited:

CyclingHermit

macrumors newbie
Jul 23, 2023
8
20
Switzerland
The explanation is not very detailed, but it makes sense. The hint about icloud backups triggering this actually helps to understand the situation better - the photos were still files on the device, so backup up by icloud or by device-to-device transfer, just not "indexed" by the photos app.
 

GuyDouche

macrumors member
Oct 6, 2023
56
98
A damage controlled response. Never even offering a sincere apology.
“Apple claimed the issue affected a small number of user”
With Apple being Apple, it’s always “a small number of users”.
I don’t believe they’re stating the entire truth. Similar to them throttling the battery during the iPhone 6(s) era.
 

i'm the mac daddy

macrumors member
Jul 19, 2019
44
75
Massachusetts
If you know anything about data and data deletion then what Apple said is a clear enough answer as to what happened. If you think deleting a file means it's gone from your storage (on any kind of device) then yeah nothing will be satisfactory.
They did not say how they fixed this. Are they deleting corrupted files? Is there some kind of garbage collection periodically delete files with no reference? Will iCloud backups only copy files that are known to the file system?

How do we know this will not happen again? I agree with some posters there needs to be more information beyond what Apple said. Their whole cost proposition is that they are a security and privacy first company. This was a bad thing to happen and we need to know how Apple is fixing it and that we can trust them. If something like this happens again. People should be outraged this ever happened in the first place. What other dodgy code practices are being used? Will deleted iCloud messages appear some day? Deleted emails? Deleted app data?
 

spazzcat

macrumors 68040
Jun 29, 2007
3,840
5,196
A damage controlled response. Never even offering a sincere apology.
“Apple claimed the issue affected a small number of user”
With Apple being Apple, it’s always “a small number of users”.
I don’t believe they’re stating the entire truth. Similar to them throttling the battery during the iPhone 6(s) era.
Bugs happen they fixed the bug in less than a week and even gave extra details which they are not required to do, time to move on.
 

Pezimak

macrumors 68040
May 1, 2021
3,162
3,519
Sorry don't buy it. If the data is marked as deleted it can be overwritten and their claim that very old photos, some a few years from what I heard, are not over written over time doesn't sound plausible to me. I still think cloud services are involved but they'll never tell you if they were.
 

ApostolisApo

macrumors regular
Jul 29, 2015
162
594
Gothenburg
A lot of speculation here from people who are not developers... Such bugs happen from time to time.
The important thing is that there is no iCloud bug.
The embarrassing thing is that still you may draw a Joker card when showing your assumedly safe photo album to your relatives :D
The explanation is quite satisfactory. If anything is false, any security researcher is welcome to prove it.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.