Weird Apple iOS 17.5 Bug Is Resurfacing Old, Deleted Photos, And Users Are Concerned

iOS 17 bug

Apple has just released iOS 17.5, and quickly, users are already reporting a very concerning bug.

On Reddit, for example, a user described how their old photos taken "years ago" suddenly reappeared as recently uploaded to iCloud after completing the update. "When in conversation with my partner, I went to send a picture and saw that the latest pictures were nsfw material we’d made years ago when we were living apart."

"I feel so uncomfortable,” the post reads. “Anyone else got this issue? I mean with pictures coming back post update?"

"Same here," said one Redditor. "I have four pics from 2010 that keep reappearing as the latest pics uploaded to iCloud. I have deleted them repeatedly."

"Same thing happened to me," replied another user. "Six photos from different times, all I have deleted. Some I had deleted in 2023."

"I had a random photo from a concert taken on my Canon camera reappear in my phone library, and it showed up as if it was added today," said another.

As more people came to comment, it's revealed that they have all installed iOS 17.5, and that they also have deleted photos mysteriously reappearing in their recent gallery.

This is a major privacy concern, nonetheless.

This is a solid proof, that Apple is keeping hold of the photos that users have deleted.

Many people are worried that Apple isn’t really deleting users' photos, even when they tapped on 'delete' and that the photos are no longer on their gallery.

The biggest worry here is that, some people may take sensitive photos, like username and password, and NSFW content that include, and not limited to, nudity.

Making things worse, users don't even need to be connected to iCloud.

This suggests that Apple devices still locally store photos that users have deleted.

This isn't likely to be an issue with the recently deleted settings on the iPhone, which only keeps photos for 30 days after deletion, in case you accidentally delete a photo and need to restore it.

Some people speculate that the bug may came from iOS 17.5 indexing issue, or some kind of corruption in the photo library, or, in the case of photos backed up online, a syncing issue between iCloud and local devices. Related to the latter point, it's possible that Apple made a mistake while trying to fix a syncing issue reported by users in a previous iOS 17 update.

Before Apple makes a formal explanation, there is clear reason for what is happening here.

iOS 17.5

"Isn't it a really big thing? I mean, Apple is a privacy advocate, but if deleted files are not really deleted after so many years. How can we trust it?" said another Redditor.

"I once deleted some notes by accident. A friend of mine worked through a contractor for Apple so I asked if there was anything he could do. He asked for my Apple ID then about 5 minutes later I got a message saying 'check your notes.'" said another. "Every note I’d ever deleted was back on my phone, including auto saves of half written messages in multiples until it got to the final thing. I don’t think our data is ever truly deleted."

However, it's worth noting that on physical storage, deleted files are never truly deleted.

Tapping on that 'delete' button only removes the files from the interface, and mark the location of the files in the physical storage for deletion. The files are only deleted when the location of the files is overwritten with new data.

Even then, some undelete tools, including specialized tools like forensic software and hardware can partially, or totally undelete those supposedly-deleted files.

The issue here is not just limited to photos and videos, because some iPhone users also said that they are seeing their old voicemails back.

The iOS 17.5 photos bug is certainly annoying, and potentially very concerning from a privacy point of view.

To prevent experiencing this issue, users may want to withhold updating their iOS to version 17.5.

However, it’s important to note that updating to iOS 17.5 fixes some major security flaws, so users have to weigh up the likelihood their iPhone would be targeted by an attack.

In about a week after the bug was found, Apple released its first fix update for iOS and iPadOS, through the 17.5.1 release.

The release notes list just one bullet point:

"This update provides important bug fixes and addresses a rare issue where photos that experienced database corruption could reappear in the Photos library even if they were deleted."
Published: 
16/05/2024