A lot has been written already about protecting your iCloud photos from falling into the wrong hands. As more details about the recent celebrity photo mishap comes out, we realize that photos in iCloud backups aren’t safe.
Obviously, we want our photos to be backed up so it's retrievable in case things go wrong or when you restore the iPhone. But it looks like an iTunes backup should be safer given the problems with iCloud. In view of that, here’s how to delete photos from your iCloud backup.
Delete Photos from iCloud Backup on iPhone/iPad
- On your iPhone, open Settings.
- Tap on iCloud.
- Now, scroll down and tap on Storage & Backup.
- Tap on Manage Storage.
- Under Backups, tap on the backup of your iPhone (usually, it’s your iPhone's name.)
- Now, turn off the switch for Camera Roll.
- Head back to Storage & Backup and tap on Backup Now.
The last step is kind of important because that’s what removes the photos from the backup and updates the same. Now, we can't be sure how effective this is in removing the photos because with backups, software is setup to hold on to some traces for a short time before they're permanently deleted.
Deleting Other/Older Backups
Chances are that you have old backups. You might also have backups from an iPad or other iDevice that's using the same iCloud ID. In this case, you’ll notice that backup listed under the Backups label.
You just have to follow the same steps to clear out photos from these backups too. Again, note that it might take a while before the photos are permanently erased from these backups.
One big disadvantage of deleting photos from iCloud backups is that when you try to restore from your iCloud backup, you’ll not have any of your photos back. In fact, there will be no redeemable copy of your photos from the cloud anymore unless you have enabled Photo stream.
That is why, to the chagrin of my readers, I keep talking about having iTunes backup at all times. When auto-backups are enabled, iTunes will backup your iPhone whenever you sync it with iTunes.