How to restore messages and other data to your iPhone

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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.

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

Comments (6)

Hi! I am an Apple consultant in NYC, and am wondering if you would happen to have an NFR version for consultants. The trial is really great, but I'd like to dig a little more deeper before I can refer to clients to buy.

Hey Rob, we do, and we'll follow up with you by email. Thanks for commenting. 👍

all good

Is it possible to recover deleted iPhone messages and have them restored to the phone as if they were never deleted?

Hi Greg, yes, it is: by patching the message file and restoring it to your phone. We've added more to the article above to make the process clearer. Reach out if you need help!

i have an iphone 4s, and I need to recover deleted text from april of 2013 from a specific number. I am willing to pay if it is guaranteed. what are my options, any assistance is much appreciated.

Hey Ty, thanks for your comment. Drop us a note on [email protected] and we'll help. 🙂

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.

I can't find my specific situation on your site and want to make sure this will work for me before making the investment.

I needed to restore my iPhone. The backup didn't work and I have lost 3 months of photos of my daughter. (who is only 4 months old and in the hospital!!!)

I checked iTunes, but none of the backups there are the ones I need. Would your program be able to help me? I did sync before the restore, so not sure why they're gone.


Hi Jennifer, we're sorry to read that you might have lost those photos. It sounds like your backup might be corrupted. iPhone Backup Extractor can often recover data from corrupt backups, and if things get really sticky we could always try manually fixing your backup. Our guidance on corrupt backups is here — that should be a good place to start. If you get stuck, drop us a note. 🙂

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