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Josh Brown Feb 7, 2024

How to Recover Deleted Photos from Backup Files [2024 Guide]

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Josh Brown Feb 7, 2024

A backup is a snapshot of your phone at that point in time and serves as a great safety net. In the case that you accidentally end up deleting important data or want to restore your phone, you can use your backup to recover all of it.

Restoring a backup helps you return your phone to a previous state or transfer data from another device onto your device. This is applicable to photos too. You can recover deleted photos from your backup files using altTunes, iTunes and iCloud however. Here's how:

Check recently deleted photos on your iPhone

There is a "recently deleted" album on Apple devices in the Photos app. This is where all your recently deleted photos go until they are permanently deleted after 30 days.

If you wish to recover photos that have been deleted recently, go to your "Recently Deleted" album, select all the photos you wish to recover, and then click the "Recover" option on the bottom right corner of your screen.

How to restore deleted photos with altTunes

To begin, you'll have to download the altTunes app onto your Mac or PC. Follow these steps to download:


Step 1: Download altTunes

You can download the app from the official website here.  

Step 2: Launch altTunes and connect your phone to your computer

Select your phone from the left sidebar. Then, select "Restore a Backup" from the actions panel.  

Step 3: Choose a backup to restore

You will have to pick between Restoring your deleted photos to your phone from a previous backup or Restoring your deleted photos to your phone from another device's backup.

Step 4: Customize to select what data to restore

This is where you'll select the option of restoring only your photos.

Once you have selected what data to restore, AltTunes will prompt you for a confirmation. Click Restore so that the process begins. If your backup is encrypted, altTunes will prompt you to enter your password prior to starting the begins.

Once confirmed, AltTunes will start the restore process and your phone will restart once it is completed. You don't need to keep the AltTunes window for the process to keep running.

To check the progress of your restore process, you can select the Operations button from the toolbar. You can also restore your photos to multiple devices at the same time if you select multiple target devices.

Turn off Find My iPhone

The Find My iPhone feature prevents anyone from using your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch in the case that it's stolen via an activation lock. However, this activation lock also prevents altTunes from being able to restore deleted photos to your phone.

Disable the activation lock by switching off the Find My iPhone feature on your device so that altTunes can restore the deleted photos.

Things to Keep in Mind

There are some things you have to keep in mind while restoring your photos from the altTunes app:

  • It might take some time for your photos to be restored. You can check the operation status by clicking on the Operations button in the upper toolbar.

  • Your phone's passcode will remain the same even after the restore process is completed.

  • You can customise your backup and select which previous backup and which photos you want to restore using the altTunes app.

Restore deleted photos with iTunes backup

If you rely on iTunes to backup and restore your phone, this is where you will have to recover deleted photos. It's a relatively easy and straightforward process as well but has some drawbacks.

How to back up your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch - Apple Support

This is how you can recover photos using iTunes:

Step 1: Connect your phone to your computer and then select your phone when it pops up on your iTunes window.

Step 2: From the "Summary tab" on the left pane, select the "Backups" tab

Step 3: Select "Restore Back" in the Backups tab, and then choose the backup you want to restore your phone to.

Step 4: Once the restore process is finished, go onto your photos app to see if the deleted photos have been recovered. If not, you can try to restore your phone from an even older backup.

Keep in mind that, unlike the AltTunes app, iTunes does not allow you to customize your backup. Therefore, you have to restore your entire device instead of just the Photos app.

Restore deleted photos with iCloud backup

If you were unable to find your deleted photos in your recently deleted photo album, you can try to recover deleted photos by restoring a previous backup using iCloud.

iCloud Backup

These are the steps you have to follow to recover deleted photos using an iCloud backup:

Step 1: Make a backup of your phone in the state it is currently in. In case the photo recovery process does not go as planned, you can restore your phone back to its state.

Step 2: When your phone is backed up, restore it to factory settings.

Step 3: Next, restore your phone using a version of the backup that you believe is dated far back enough to have the deleted photos you are trying to recover.

Step 4: Check your Photos App once the restore process is completed to see if you have been able to recover deleted photos. If that's not the case, repeat all these steps again with an even older backup than the one you used for this restore.

It is important to keep in mind that when you restore your phone from an old iCloud backup, you cannot simply choose to restore your Photos App. Everything from the backup you choose including apps, text messages, data, etc. will be restored to your phone.

This might be a significant pain point if you are using a very old backup and you most likely will have to spend a lot of time deleting unnecessary data again. However, this problem could be avoided if you were using the altTunes App instead.

Recover deleted photos using Finder on macOS

macOS Finder

You can use the Finder on your macOS to recover deleted photos too. The steps you need to follow are as listed below:

Step 1: Connect your phone to your iMac or MacBook

Step 2: Open your Finder on your computer where you should be able to see your phone in the left pane

Step 3: Click on you phone and then click "Restore Backup"

Step 4: Select the backup date which you'd like to restore your device to and then click "Restore"

This seems like a very simplistic route to take while attempting to recover deleted photos, however in this scenario, you also do not have the option of customising your backup.

Recover deleted photos using Cloud Storage Service: Dropbox, One Drive Google Photos

This is an option that will require you to apply a few prerequisites if you wish to put it to good use. Cloud storage services such was Dropbox, One Drive and Google Photos have apps that you can download onto your phone, and they upload your photos onto their cloud.

How Dropbox is making their rebranding work | by Ariel Verber | Muzli -  Design Inspiration

These cloud services are separate from iCloud and iTunes, and therefore you will have to pay for storage space separately on them too depending on how much space you need.

To recover photos from a cloud storage service, follow the steps listed below:

Step 1: Download deleted photos from the cloud service onto your computer.

Step 2: Locate the downloaded photos on your computer.

Step 3: Open your iCloud photos is a separate window on your computer.

Step 4: Select the photos you want to recover from your downloaded photos and drag them into the iCloud photos window.

Step 5: Your photos will automatically be uploaded onto your iCloud and then be available on your phone.

This process as a whole can become very confusing since it requires you to navigate between multiple softwares and also pay for storage space for multiple softwares. It will allow you to only restore your deleted photos instead of having to restore all your phone's data, but the process can become very tedious and confusing to follow.

Recover deleted photos using File Manager on Windows

If you have Windows installed on your personal computer, worry not! You can use the file manager to recover deleted photos too.

What's changed in File Explorer

However, keep in mind that you will need to have your photos saved on your computer to be able to use this method. Whether they are downloaded from a cloud storage service or backed up via iTunes, that is up to you.

To recover deleted photos using a Windows computer, the steps you need to follow are as listed below:

Step 1: Connect your phone to your personal computer

Step 2: Open your file manager on your computer where you should be able to see your phone in the left pane

Step 3: Open the folder with the photos you want to recover in a separate window on your computer.

Step 4: Open your phone from the file manager and navigate to the DCIM folder.

Step 5: Select the photos you want to recover and drag them into your phone DCIM folder window.

Step 6: Once the transfer process is completed, you will be able to see your photos in the Photos App.

This is most definitely not an easy approach to recovering deleted photos and also requires navigating through multiple software and confusing steps.

Comparing these solutions

It is safe to say that you have quite a few approaches available to you to recover and restore deleted photos to your phone. What are some things that you can consider when deciding which option to pursue?

In our opinion, you should evaluate your solution based on the following things:

  • Can you choose which backup you are restoring your phone to?

  • Can you customise it to be able to select which apps are restored?

  • Can you browse it before restoring your phone?

We will evaluate the methods of using altTunes, iCloud, or iTunes across these parameters to help make it easier for you to decide.


With AltTunes, you can restore photos using a backup made on AltTunes or iTunes. You can also choose which apps and what data is restored, and finally, you can browse data and photos before you decide what you want to restore.


With iTunes, you can also recover photos using a backup made on altTunes or iTunes, but you cannot customize the apps or data you are restoring whatsoever. The entire thing is restored to your phone. Furthermore, you can't browse the data or apps prior to restoring your phone.


For iCloud, you are severely limited as to what you can restore your phone with. You can only choose the last backup that was made using iCloud. Similar to iTunes, you cannot customize the apps or data you are restoring whatsoever. The entire thing is restored to your phone. Furthermore, you can't browse the data or apps prior to restoring your phone.


In conclusion, it is evident that there are many different ways you can go about recovering your deleted photos so don't give up hope too easily. You can recover photos using a free or paid solution.

With so many options available, you want to make sure you choose the best solution available to you and that would be one which gives you the highest level of visibility and control while attempting to restore deleted photos on your phone.

For that reason, the AltTunes app is our top pick when trying to recover deleted photos. It is a terrific solution for so many functions that it is capable of performing and will not let you down once you place your trust in it. If this solution is out of your reach for whatever reason, you can attempt any of the other solutions we have listed!

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