Do deleted pictures actually get deleted? Here's all you need to know

In the age of smartphones and social media, photos and videos are snapped in the blink of an eye, capturing everything from the mundane to the intimate.

This is what happens to your deleted files.Courtesy of Gary Nunn

But what happens when you hit 'delete'? Many believe that once a picture is deleted, it's gone forever. However, the truth is a bit more complex and warrants a deeper dive, especially for those sensitive snaps you wouldn't want anyone else to see.

The myth of deletion

When you delete a picture or video from your device, it doesn't immediately vanish into the digital ether. Initially, it moves to a hidden folder, often labeled as 'Recently Deleted', where it stays for a designated period before being permanently erased.

This function acts as a safety net, allowing users to recover files in case of accidental deletion. But here's the kicker: even after permanent deletion, these files aren't instantly obliterated.


Data recovery: A double-edged sword

Thanks to data recovery technologies, deleted files can often be retrieved with the right tools and know-how. This capability is a boon for retrieving important lost data but poses a risk for private or sensitive content.

Deleted items might be gone from your immediate view, but they leave digital footprints that can potentially be followed.

Don't forget about 'cloud'

With the advent of cloud storage, your photos and videos might be backing up automatically. This means a copy exists even if you delete the original from your device.


Cloud services come with their own set of deletion protocols, but as long as your account exists, so does the potential for those files to be accessed, intentionally or not.

Think before you click

This brings us to a crucial piece of advice: think twice before capturing and saving sensitive content on your devices. The reality is, in the digital age, true deletion is hard to guarantee.

Whether due to cloud backups, data recovery techniques, or the overlooked 'Recently Deleted' folder, your digital footprints are more indelible than you might think.

The bottom line? Exercise caution and discretion with your digital content. In a world where privacy is increasingly precious, safeguarding your personal photos and videos from unwanted eyes starts with you.


Remember, if it's something you wouldn't want anyone to see, perhaps it's best left uncaptured.

Enhance Your Pulse News Experience!

Get rewards worth up to $20 when selected to participate in our exclusive focus group. Your input will help us to make informed decisions that align with your needs and preferences.

I've got feedback!


Unblock notifications in browser settings.

Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: