This weird iOS 17.5 bug could restore years-old deleted iPhone photos whether you want it to or not, and there's nothing you can do to stop it

The back of an iPhone 15 Pro, showing its camera system.
(Image credit: Future)

When Apple released iOS 17.5 yesterday it brought with it a few new features and as many as 15 different security fixes, but it would appear that it also had something else to share, too. That something seems to be a strange bug that causes previously deleted photos to make a reappearance. And often, an unwanted one at that.

Reports have started to pop up on social media of people finding that photos that they deleted years ago have popped back up as if they were recently taken, seemingly with no reason or pattern to their return.

Now, iPhone photographers who deleted photos and might not want to see them again are being forced to delete them all over again — assuming they'll stay deleted this time which doesn't sound to always be the case.

Photos that just won't go away

The new bug was first reported by MacRumors and is being discussed in a Reddit thread detailing people's experiences after installing iOS 17.5.

One user says that they had pictures reappear from 2010 and that they've deleted them repeatedly with little luck. Others say that photos from last year are doing the same thing.

The strange thing here is that the photos appear as if they were brand-new, suggesting that they aren't the original file but rather a new one that's being provided by iCloud. These photos aren't ones that the Photos app has stored for 30 days after deletion in case the user wants to restore them, either.

It's unclear exactly what is happening right now, nor do we know how people can fix the issue. We've reached out to Apple for comment and will update this post when we get a response — hopefully with confirmation that Apple is working on a fix.

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

  • Bla1ze
    That doesn't really seem safe and secure and leads to more questions about how Photos are being stored by Apple.
  • EdwinG
    I want a technical explanation from Apple on what happened there, because THIS should never happen.
  • Ledsteplin
    Several years ago, I rolled back the date on my iPhone in Settings > General > Date & Time, and could see photos from that time I had long deleted. I have not tried that in 11 years or so. No clue if it still works.