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I have been using a new iPhone4 (replacement phone) for 2 months. Yesterday I connected it to my laptop to copy over photos. iPhoto said only 1 photo of 500 was imported. So I went to iTunes to import, selected "import all" hoping it would pick up everything. I chose the option "Keep Photos on iPhone" since I wanted to share a few recent photos yet with friends. No luck with the transfer of photos. So then I asked it to sync. Still nothing transfered to the laptop. After I unplugged my phone I noticed the photo library on the iPhone had changed. All the pictures I had taken were simply gone, and photos from prior to 2 months ago were in their place. It had restored a previous backup rather than transfer the new photos. I hadn't clicked "delete" photos but I think it just did it as part of restore sync. Is there any possible way to recover the pictures now — after a restore, without any previous backup?

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Do you have PhotoStream enabled? –  Daniel Lawson Apr 1 '12 at 22:31
    
No, unfortunately I do not have PhotoStream enabled. –  Heidi Apr 3 '12 at 1:51
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2 Answers

Before a sync or restore, I believe that iTunes will create a backup of your phone's contents (unless you manually cancel this backup). The backup will contain the photos and videos that were on the phone.

You can check if a backup was created by doing the following:

  1. Launch iTunes
  2. iTunes > Preferences > Devices
  3. See if there is an entry with the date of the restore.

If a backup exists, you can recover your data with one of two methods:

  • Restore your phone using that backup; or
  • Use an application such as iPhone Backup Extractor to extract the images out of the backup file.
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There is a backup from yesterday that I believe matches the current contents of my phone and one from November. And the Prevent iPods, iPhones, and iPads from syncing automatically check box was/is unchecked - that's probably why it automatically synced. –  Heidi Apr 3 '12 at 1:59
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First, check if their physical footprint still exists. Go to Settings > General > Usage and check the amount of storage available, do you notice that there is a lot of used storage ? You can also check it through iTunes, which might show used memory labeled as Other.

I lost all my pictures and videos after jailbreaking my phone, yet iTunes showed that they are still taking physical memory (labeled as Other - iTunes did not recognise my pics or vids anymore). This means they cannot be viewed via Camera Roll but they are still stored in the phone.

To fix that, download iFunBox ( http://www.i-funbox.com ) and use it to locate and extract the images from the phone (no need for iTunes to access the phone). I managed to extract all my photos from the phone to an external USB, which accumulated to over 20GB of photos and videos.

Use this method and you should recover your photos and videos with no previous backup. If your phone shows that there is a lot of empty storage, then your photos might have actually been completely removed.

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