How to restore messages and other data to your iPhone

Cover image for: How to restore messages and other data to your iPhone

Let's suppose you've lost some of the information from your iPhone and you want to get it back. Perhaps you were upgrading to a new version of iOS and something went wrong or you simply deleted some contacts, photos or notes by mistake.

Have you ever wondered how to restore messages, WhatsApp chats, notes or other data from an older iPhone or iPad to a newer iOS device? Or maybe you have a corrupt backup and you need to recover and restore parts of your data. No worries! We've got you covered. You can restore your data, so long as you have an iTunes or iCloud backup to extract data from.

In this article we'll guide you through the steps you need to take to recover and restore your iOS data.

How to import SMS and WhatsApp messages to your iPhone

Restoring these types of data can be tricky. We've got a video to take you through the process, and we're going to cover the main technique in this article: read on!

This procedure can be overwhelming if you're not technical (in which case our experts can help you out). We recommend you read it through at first and get started if you're confident you can finish it. Otherwise, just reach out to us by live chat or email.

In summary, you get iTunes to take a new backup of your upgraded phone, patch the new backup with files from an older backup, and then restore the new backup onto the phone. This method works for both encrypted and unencrypted iTunes backups, although you'll need both your iTunes backup and your iOS device to be on the same version of iOS.

You'll be able to restore your messages, WhatsApp chats, notes, call history and other data by following this procedure. Of course, you'll need an older backup that contains the data you want to restore.

1. Is it in your iPhone backup?

First, you'll want to see whether the information you need is stashed safely away in the backup that iTunes keeps of your iPhone. The free edition of iPhone Backup Extractor is a handy way to see what's in your iPhone backup.

2. Backup your iPhone or iPad: create a fresh backup to modify

Before you start, make sure you backup your iPhone with iTunes and create a safe copy of the backup containing all your data.

To back up your data with iTunes follow these steps:

  1. Open iTunes
  2. Connect your iPhone to your PC or Mac using your USB cable
  3. Click on your iPhone's icon and then choose to back up on the computer rather than iCloud, as it'll be quicker to restore from

3. Patch your iPhone backup and restore your iOS data

Assuming you've completed the step above and created a safe copy of your new device backup, we can continue.

We want to locate the databases holding data in your recently created backup -- and replace them with the databases from your older backup.

Each app's data is stored in a different place. Depending on the data you need to restore, you’ll find this article helpful in finding the right data. We'll use SMS, iMessage and WhatsApp in the examples below.

How to restore SMS messages to your iPhone

  1. Open iPhone Backup Extractor and choose the older backup with the data you want to copy data from, using the left-hand menu.

  2. Select the "Expert mode" tab. Go to Home DomainLibrarySMSsms.db and extract that file to your computer. It contains your SMS and iMessage data.

  3. In iPhone Backup Extractor select the backup that you want to import your messages to in the left-hand iPhone backup browser.

  4. Go to the "Expert mode" tab and browse to Home DomainLibrarySMSsms.db. Right-click on sms.db and choose "Replace". Choose the SMS database you extracted earlier.

    Finding the klzzwxh:0026 file
    Finding the sms.db file

    Replacing the SMS database in an iTunes backup
    Replacing the SMS database in an iTunes backup

    A new window will announce if the replacement was successful.

    Successfully replaced the klzzwxh:0029
    Successfully replaced the sms.db

  5. Connect your iPhone with the USB cable and open iTunes. Ensure you have the modified backup in the default iTunes location so that iTunes picks the backup automatically.

    Restoring an iTunes backup
    Restoring an iTunes backup

    Restore the newly modified backup (where you just replaced the sms.db file): click on "Restore from backup", and choose to restore the most recent backup. Once completed, your SMS messages from the first backup will be restored on your iPhone.

    The "restore from backup" dialog
    The "restore from backup" dialog

How to restore WhatsApp messages to your iPhone

The process is almost identical to the one used to import iMessages. However, instead of finding the sms.db file, you're going to look for another: ChatStorage.sqlite.

You'll find it in "Expert mode" under Application Groupsnet.whatsapp.WhatsApp.sharedChatStorage.sqlite, and you should replace it there in the target backup that you're modifying.

Finding WhatsApp's klzzwxh:0010 database for migration
Finding WhatsApp's ChatStorage.sqlite database for migration

If you run into any problems along the way, we'll happily assist you in restoring your iOS data. Drop us a note or say hi on the live chat.

About the author

Aidan Fitzpatrick founded Reincubate in 2008 after building the world's first iPhone data recovery tool, iPhone Backup Extractor. He's spoken at Google on entrepreneurship, and is a graduate of the Entrepreneurs' Organisation's Leadership Academy.

Reincubate's CEO at Buckingham Palace

Pictured above are members of Reincubate’s team meeting HM Queen Elizabeth Ⅱ at Buckingham Palace, after being awarded the UK’s highest business award for our work with Apple technology. Read our position on privacy, safety and security.

We've helped over 10,000,000 people recover their lost iPhone data. Let us help you too.

Comments (2)

all good

I lost two voice mails that I would want to get back.

Hi Angel! Voicemails can be strange things in iTunes backups. Basically, whether they're downloaded to the iPhone and then backed up by iTunes is dependant on your phone provider, and whether they offer "visual voicemail". If the voicemails are backed up in iTunes, iPhone Backup Extractor will be able to access them. If you need more help or have a corrupt or encrypted backup contact our helpdesk any time.

Can we improve this article?

We love hearing from users: why not drop us an email, leave a comment, or tweet @reincubate?

© 2008 - 2019 Reincubate Ltd. All rights reserved. Registered in England and Wales #5189175, VAT GB151788978. Reincubate® is a registered trademark. Privacy & terms. We recommend 2FA. Built with in London.


For personal users

For businesses and pro users

Scroll down for business and pro plans



iTunes support

Works with Windows and Mac

Customer support

Preview iCloud device list

Buy Basic



iCloud and iTunes support

Works with Windows and Mac

Customer support

5 iCloud devices

Download iCloud Photo Library

Buy Premium
Jonathan Zdziarski picture

This is iPhone Backup Extractor, think of it as a "personal forensics" utility. It's pretty awesome.

Jonathan Zdziarski

Forensics and iOS expert

For business and pro users



25 iCloud devices

High priority customer support

Commercial license

All benefits of our premium plan

Buy Business
ricloud logo
Demo our APIs for enterprise

Need iCloud API access, forensic tools, bulk recovery of deleted SQLite data?

Learn about our APIs at