Last Updated on February 5, 2023 by James McAllister

By: James McAllister


iCloud is a fantastic way to sync photos across your devices, while also making a secure backup of your important photos and videos.

Because of the seamless syncing however, you may find yourself wondering – what happens to photos that you remove from your phone? Are photos also removed from iCloud if you delete them off your iPhone, and is there any way to keep them on iCloud only?

These are excellent questions. In this article, we’ll cover everything that you need to know!

Are Deleted Photos Also Deleted From iCloud?

Unfortunately, photos that are deleted from your iPhone are also deleted from iCloud. This means that there is no way to keep some photos or videos on iCloud, without also keeping a copy of them on your device.

This can be a bit confusing – isn’t the entire point of iCloud to make a backup? While this is one of the main selling points of the service, its primarily designed to be a tool to sync photos across multiple Apple devices, such as iPhones, iPads and Macintosh computers.

This not only includes photos you take on each one of these devices, but also photos that you delete.

Therefore, if you want to move media to iCloud in order to free up space on your phone, be careful. Backups should be made using cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive, rather than relying on iCloud alone. We’ll talk more about this later.

Beware The ‘Recently Deleted’ Folder

iCloud for iPhone, iPad and Macintosh Computers

If you take a look at your iCloud, you’ll see that just like on your iPhone / iPad there is a ‘Recently Deleted’ folder.

So, you may think its safe to delete them off of your phone or tablet, and then simply restore them from the iCloud folder later.

Unfortunately, this is a mistake. If you delete the photos from your device and then empty the ‘Recently Deleted’ folder on your device, it will also delete them from this folder on iCloud.

You should assume that what’s available (or not available) on your phone is reflected on iCloud as well.

If you empty the recently deleted folder on your iPhone, it will permanently delete all the same photos and videos from iCloud too.

Therefore, always make sure you have a backup copy of these photos / videos elsewhere if you intend to keep them.

How Can You Store Photos In The Cloud Without Keeping Them On Your iPhone?

Although photos you remove from your phone are also removed from iCloud, there are still ways to make secure backups without requiring the phones to remain on your iPhone.

In fact, there are several other cloud storage platforms that are just as useful as iCloud. Some notable examples include both Google Drive and Dropbox.

Like iCloud, both have free plans and allow you to purchase additional storage should you need it.

The one downside of alternative cloud storage services is that they aren’t integrated quite as nicely into your iPhone. While iCloud can automatically back up photos as soon as you take them, services like Google Drive or Dropbox require you to manually upload files to their platform.

Once they’re uploaded however, you are free to delete them from your device and redownload them as necessary. Unlike iCloud, they will remain permanently until you decide to delete them.

Tip: If you need to free up space quickly and don’t want to spend a lot of time uploading your entire photo gallery, start by uploading lengthy videos first. These take up the most amount of space on your phone, so by storing them on a cloud platform like Dropbox or Google Drive you can free up a lot of space while only transferring a few files.


Unfortunately, photos that are removed from your iPhone are also removed from iCloud, if they were there previously.

If you’d like to remove photos while still having them safely stored somewhere else, we recommend using an iCloud alternative like Dropbox or Google Drive.

I hope that you’ve found this article helpful. If you have any other questions about cloud storage, please ask them using the comment form below.

Wishing you the best,

– James McAllister

About the author 

James McAllister

James is the owner of He started his first blog at the age of 11, and has since gone on to start several successful businesses. In total, these businesses have sold hundreds of thousands of units and have touched millions of lives. Here on, he shares his knowledge that brought him to where he is today. If you want to connect with James, follow him on your favorite social networks!

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