Why Can’t I Find IPhone Photos After Backing up Them?

Few things are worse than finding out that you are missing phone photos taken over the years after you thought you took them right. I often get some version of the “missing photo” question in Lifehacker’s weekly tech Q&A column . And I will continue to answer them as best I can, because I hate the idea of ​​someone losing so many precious memories.

Lifehacker reader Janice writes this week:

I hope you can help! An Apple Support Chat technician told me that he would brutally give false hopes and that “something went catastrophically wrong,” requiring FBI level recovery methods.

In December, my husband and I updated our iPhone, and to protect our photos before sharing, for the first time I manually imported all HIS photos into my library. I couldn’t figure out the size of the import, but it was huge. Then I copied the library over to my Drobo with the intention of deleting the massive file from my MAC. I didn’t get to the point of deleting because I wanted to check the photos first. Over the weekend, I noticed for the first time that many of my photographs were missing. This starts in 2012 when I was born and the loss is enormous as I spend my days with my children.

I use Time Machine, but the backup files stored in Drobo are simply missing between 2012 and 2019 – the date after importing the photos! So far, I’ve copied the library back to Drobo again (that’s 20 gigabytes less than the first copy) because I was planning on deleting it from the MAC to free up space to restore the previous one from Time Machine. My iCloud seems to mimic a library because although iCloud is not active in photos to back up, my iPhone syncs automatically when photos are open. Another mystery is that some photographs actually appear in albums, are published, etc.?

I continue to look for technical jobs, but businesses in my area are not yet fully operational. I am trying very desperately to spend $ 125 an hour.

I confess it made me scratch my head a bit – and if any of Lifehacker’s readers have an immediate answer that calls out to them, please stop reading right now and leave it in the comments. I will supplement this post with any suggestions you make that seem like good troubleshooting techniques.

If I were you, I would make sure to keep that first, original copy of your photo library that you took. Put it on at least your shot and don’t touch it. Copy it to an external drive as well, if you can – make as many copies as you can in case any of your troubleshooting steps messes things up. (I am assuming that all of your photos are in your library somehow; if not, this is the best you can do at the moment.)

Then I would have taken a more decisive step. I would take whatever library is currently your main library on your Mac and export all the photos I have. First, check your Recently Deleted folder to make sure there is nothing in it that you accidentally deleted.) Select all of your photos in Photos and go to File> Export. Fill in the following options as you like and choose a location for your photos:

Then I would completely upload those photos to another service (for now) – something like Google Photos , which can be a great place to back up your photos in case something goes wrong.

From there, close “Photos”. We will now try a few methods of detecting any missing photos we can, but I’ll say in advance that I’m not sure we can do much given how long it has been since you imported and when you exchanged your old one. telephone. (If you only had access to this hardware, it might be a little easier.)

Hold down the Option key and launch Photos again. You may have a second library on your Mac that contains different photos from your first. I’m not sure if this is happening, but it is at least worth checking out.

If that doesn’t work, let’s try again. Hold down Command + Option and restart the Photos app, which will give you the option to restore your library. I’m also not sure if this will result in a whole series of missing photos, but try it anyway.

Finally, you can check the library files on the Mac itself. Pull up Go> Computer and navigate to Users> [your name]> Pictures. Find your photo library file (bonus points if you have extras), then open the context menu (click with two fingers on the trackpad) and select Show Package Contents. Scan various folders (especially “Originals”) and you may be able to find missing photos.

If not, I’m not sure if these photos exist anymore on your Mac – or perhaps never got there to begin with. And if so, I think your mission is now expanding into insane recovery. Since you don’t have access to your old phones that you traded with, are there other places where your images might have been stored? iCloud photos ? Another photo sync site? Backing up old devices? Emails? Are there any other ways your husband could back up his photos without even knowing it that you can now use? Is he using any other services he uses that might do this automatically, such as a cloud storage service like Dropbox or OneDrive?

You mentioned that some of your old photos still appear in different albums and shared albums. The first would certainly be covered by the exports that we did earlier. You should also be able to save photos from shared folders to your device. I recommend doing this and then backing up to multiple locations using the methods I mentioned earlier.

If you ever decide to copy and merge photo libraries again …

The next time you try to merge libraries like this – if next time – I’ll do two things. First, I would back up every photo on my device (and any other devices) to the cloud. I’m not a fan of Google, but its photography tool is incredibly useful and free for just this purpose. Even if you never actually use the service to view your images, at least they will be protected forever (and sharing them with others is also easy).

Then I would use the Mac Image Capture app to copy everything from my device. However, before doing that, I would check my iPhone’s settings (Settings> Photos) to make sure I turned on Load and Keep Originals to make sure that whatever you captured is actually on your device and not in the cloud. (I’d also sync my photos to iCloud if I have enough space to do so, because you’ll never have enough backups.)

Then I import the images copied to the Mac Photo Library and then connect my iPhone to sync them, or use iCloud Photos if you like. Your choice. Finally, I would make sure to run all my backup solutions (including Google Photos) again to keep everything safe and secure in the cloud.

Don’t waste money on data recovery

Finally, I wanted to quickly dwell on one point. I’m not sure if you have to spend $ 125 an hour on some fancy data recovery expert to find your photos. I don’t think this is a case of mysterious deletion, rather, you are just dealing with missing photos that either exist or have not made it onto your computer at all. While it’s certainly likely that you’ve accidentally deleted some of these photos in some way, it looks like you didn’t. At least I think you would have noticed if you had shot in a few years. (It’s not instant, after all.)

I wish I could be more helpful, but these are all the ideas I came up with. Am I missing anything, discerning Lifehacker readers?

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