Why deleted iPhone photos came back

When deleted photos mysteriously reappeared on some iPhones, alarm bells sounded. The Verge's headline was starkest—"Apple needs to explain"—and it has.

Apple confirmed to me that iCloud Photos is not to be blamed for this. Instead, it all boils to the corrupt database entry that existed on the device's file system itself.

According to Apple, the photos that did not fully delete from a user's device were not synced to iCloud Photos. Those files were only on the device itself. However, the files could have persisted from one device to another when restoring from a backup, performing a device-to-device transfer, or when restoring from an iCloud Backup but not using iCloud Photos.

An important addendum:

In a now-deleted post, a Reddit user last week alleged that their photos reappeared on an iPad they sold to a friend, despite them having erased the content of that iPad prior to selling it. Apple tells me that this claim was false.

If you're worried about privacy, definitely don't use cloud services to store whatever it is and probably don't use software that automatically synchronizes it across machines, whatever it is.

Apple deleted files that I owned without telling me. It was inevitable, but I'm still pissed.