Adobe Lightroom iOS update permanently deleted users’ photos

Adobe has since corrected the update problem, but users' photos are still gone.


A recent update to the Adobe Lightroom app permanently deleted some iOS users’ photos and presets, an Adobe rep confirmed on the Photoshop feedback forums. Adobe has since corrected the issue, which was first spotted by PetaPixel, but not before drawing the ire of many disappointed users.

An update to version 5.4 of the app for the iPhone and iPad arrived earlier this week. On Tuesday, user Mohamad Alif Eqnur posted in the Photoshop feedback forums that he had updated his iOS app, and subsequently lost all of his pictures and presets. Other users replied saying they were experiencing the same issue. “All presets and most of my 8000+ pics are gone as of today-08/18/20. Please help!” wrote user Karen Floyd.

Adobe rep Rikk Flohr responded to the thread, saying Adobe is aware of the bug and that a new update, 5.4.1, corrected the issue. However, he didn’t have good news for customers who had already lost photos and presets. “We know that some customers have photos and presets that are not recoverable,” Flohr wrote. “We sincerely apologize to any customers who have been affected by this issue.” It’s unclear exactly how many users were affected. Flohr did note that the Lightroom cloud, and Lightroom mobile on Android, Lightroom desktop on macOS and Windows, as well as Lightroom Classic weren’t affected. This makes it sound like only pictures that weren’t backed up to Adobe’s Cloud were deleted, though that’s no comfort to people who lost their photos.

Needless to say, users who had just lost photos and presets were not happy. “Rikk, we understand the announcement, however this doesn’t solve the problem,” wrote Ewelina Wojtyczka. “People lost months/years of their work. Apologies will not bring it back.”

Adobe hasn’t further commented on the bug outside Flohr’s post. Some users noted that they had fortunately backed up their photos or stored them elsewhere -- not a bad idea, considering another big company, Canon, also lost images following a ransomware attack. While Adobe shouldn’t be let off the hook for this error, perhaps the importance of multiple backups is the hard lesson we can learn from this.

Update, 4:55PM ET: Adobe has posted a few more details on a support page for Lightroom for mobile 5.4.0 for iPadOS and iOS. It reiterates that the bug “affected customers using Lightroom mobile without a subscription to the Adobe cloud. It also affected Lightroom cloud customers with photos and presets that had not yet synced to the Adobe cloud.” It also recommends users check their iPad or iPhone system backups to see if they can return to a state before the update that might have saved the missing photos.

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