Devastating loss of iPhone photos
November 10, 2011 11:53 AM   Subscribe

How can I recover photos that were accidentally deleted on my iPhone 4? A few days ago, I had about 4,800 photos on my iPhone's photo roll. Today there's only a few hundred.

Earlier efforts to transfer them to my computer failed - I'd get a few hundred transferred and then an error message would pop up in iPhoto. So, I was scrolling through the pictures a deleting the bad photos one by one to free up space. Somehow, I must have accidentally deleted the majority of my pictures since today I looked and there's only about 500 on there. How can I get the others back?

Someone mentioned that they might be in iTunes, but in the "library" section I just see music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, books, apps, ringtones and radio. No section for photos.
posted by Ostara to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
What kind of computer/OS are you using?
posted by Madamina at 12:08 PM on November 10, 2011

Photos in the camera roll are stored in iPhone backup files. Photos in photo albums (there's a difference) are not, since those were transferred from a computer.

You need to pray the backup file hasn't been overwritten. That happens every time you sync your phone. You're best bet is to perform the procedure known as "restore from backup". It sounds like you use OSX, so hopefully you also use Time Machine, and there's a recent copy of your hard drive we can use to grab your iPhone backup file from (in case it's already been overwritten).

I wish I had time to give you the rundown on the complete procedure, but I gotta go. Good luck.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:14 PM on November 10, 2011

When you sync your phone with iTunes, it backs up the info. Is there any place the backed up info is stored?
posted by jenny76 at 12:15 PM on November 10, 2011

I have a 2009 MacBook Pro.
posted by Ostara at 12:19 PM on November 10, 2011

Restoring from backup will do in a pinch, but it takes a while and will mean that other data on the device gets rolled back to the backup point too.

If you just want the photos, you could use this tool to extract the contents of one of your backups, to get at the files. When you launch it, there is a button to read the list of backups. Pick a recent backup, from before the files went missing. It will list all the various apps you can restore. You'll want the "iOS Files" option. Select that, click extract and tell it what folder you want it to extract everything too. Just make sure you have enough disk space. Your camera roll photos will be split into folders in a subdirectory called "Media/DCIM/"
posted by Good Brain at 12:31 PM on November 10, 2011

Also, set up photostream on icloud so this doesn't happen to you again.
posted by empath at 1:53 PM on November 10, 2011

To find the backup files on your computer, look here:

Mac: ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/

posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:06 AM on November 11, 2011

« Older Sign Up Here One Click In Real Life   |   How to get sold out Rio Theatre PFT tickets? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.