How to recover deleted WhatsApp messages

Updated
Cover image for: How to recover deleted WhatsApp messages

Difficulty: easy

Steps: up to 3

Time needed: 5 minutes

How to get your WhatsApp messages back from an iPhone

With over a billion users, WhatsApp is one of the most globally popular messaging apps. As with any other data on your iPhone, WhatsApp chats are important, and losing them can be a pain. iPhone Backup Extractor can undelete WhatsApp conversations from all iOS devices. Here's how to get your lost data back in few steps, if you’ve lost your iPhone or accidentally deleted WhatsApp messages.

WhatsApp messages can be recovered from an iPhone in 4 steps:

  1. Download and install iPhone Backup Extractor
  2. Find a suitable iTunes or iCloud backup
  3. Use iPhone Backup Extractor to recover the messages

Finding saved WhatsApp chats

WhatsApp conversations aren't stored on WhatsApp's servers, so it's not possible to restore them directly from the app itself. The good news is that your iPhone has likely already saved your WhatsApp chats in an iTunes or iCloud backup -- and you can extract the messages you had stored on your iPhone or iPad.

Not sure what backups you have? Check here:

  • iTunes backups: if you didn’t enable iCloud backups on your device, iTunes backups are automatically created when you sync your iPhone with iTunes, and you should have one in your default backup folder. If you’re not sure whether you have an iTunes backup, iPhone Backup Extractor will be able to show you.

  • iCloud backup: to check if you have an iCloud backup, open Settings on your iPhone, and in the first menu, tap iCloud. At the bottom of the iCloud Drive screen you should see Backup - tap that. If iCloud backup is "on", then you'll see information about the date and time of the last backup. *Don't hit "backup now", as that will overwrite your current backup!

Don't click "Back up now" and overwrite your iCloud backup
Don't click "Back up now" and overwrite your iCloud backup

Before starting, make sure your device will not overwrite your last backup. To do this, check that your device is not charging or connected via USB (iCloud backups can be updated and overwritten automatically if the device is connected to Wi-Fi, charging, and locked).

Recovering WhatsApp chats

Here are the steps you'll need:

Step 1. Download and install the free edition of iPhone Backup Extractor

You can get it for Mac or Windows PC. (If you plan to use an iCloud backup for recovery, you’ll need to upgrade iPhone Backup Extractor for full iCloud access.)

Step 2. Select the backup that contains your data

If using an iTunes backup

iPhone Backup Extractor will automatically check for backups located in your default backup folder. If your backup is located in a different location, select the folder by clicking the button "Add backups".

Adding an iTunes search folder to iPhone Backup Extractor
Adding an iTunes search folder to iPhone Backup Extractor

If using an iCloud backup

Click the "Add iCloud backups" text in the app's iPhone backup browser, on the left-hand side of the app, and then sign in to iCloud using the window that pops up. You'll need your iCloud username and password.

Sign in to iCloud
Sign in to iCloud

If multiple backups are available from iTunes or iCloud, select the one containing your WhatsApp messages from the list of backups shown on the left-hand side of the app. If you have an encrypted iTunes backup, you'll need to enter your backup password.

Step 3. Recover your WhatsApp messages with a click

With the iTunes or iCloud backup loaded into iPhone Backup Extractor, you'll be able to see the number of WhatsApp messages found in your backup in the ”Overview” section.

Recovering WhatsApp data with iPhone Backup Extractor
Recovering WhatsApp data with iPhone Backup Extractor

Click on the WhatsApp icon to extract your messages. iPhone Backup Extractor will ask you which format you’d like to get your data in, PDF, CSV or HTML (CSV option will save all your messages as text in a single file without any images, while HTML option will save them in separate files, allowing you to open them in a browser). We'd recommend you extract your data in PDF, as it's easiest to read anywhere.

Recovered WhatsApp messages
Recovered WhatsApp messages

Then you’ll have to select the location where you want to export the files. Click OK and the folder with your messages will open. That's it!

Alternately, once your backup has been selected, you have 3 other ways to see your WhatsApp messages and attachments: "Preview", "Expert" or "App view" modes:

  • The "Preview" mode allows you to preview WhatsApp messages and their attachments. Click on "WhatsApp", and you will see a list of all possible messages that can be extracted in the right-hand side. Select messages with attachments, click on "Extract", and choose a location to save them. Messages are extracted as HTML, whilst images and videos are saved in a separate folder called "Data".

    iPhone Backup Extractor's preview mode showing WhatsApp messages
    iPhone Backup Extractor's preview mode showing WhatsApp messages

  • In "App View" mode, select "WhatsApp Messenger" and click on the link next to "All Files". Then pick a location where you need to extract the attachments. You'll find your data in LibraryMedia folder.

    WhatsApp in "App view" mode
    WhatsApp in "App view" mode

  • In "Expert Mode", access the following path Application Domainnet.whatsapp.WhatsAppLibraryMedia. The "Media" folder contains all the WhatsApp attachments. Choose the Media folder then click on "Extract" to save your WhatsApp attachments.

    Extracting WhatsApp media with iPhone Backup Extractor
    Extracting WhatsApp media with iPhone Backup Extractor

Accessing WhatsApp backups directly

As well as saving your WhatsApp chats in an iTunes or iCloud backup, WhatsApp can also backup messages directly to iCloud when users have iCloud enabled.

This won't let you pick and choose which messages you recover: it's an all or nothing recovery that is built into WhatsApp itself, and which is best used when moving to a new iPhone, if WhatsApp messages weren't migrated with the usual iTunes backup and restore process.

You can access the WhatsApp chat archive inside the WhatsApp app itself:

  1. Open WhatsApp, and tap Settings in the bottom right

  2. Tap on Chat Settings, then Chats and Chat Backup

    You'll see a screen that will tell you when the internal WhatsApp iCloud backup service is enabled.

In order to restore WhatsApp messages from this internal backup, the process can be a little scary. That's why we've led off this guide with a different approach. In order to restore from the internal backup, you'll need to:

  1. Ensure a backup has been completed in WhatsApp

  2. Delete WhatsApp from your iPhone

  3. Install WhatsApp from the app store

  4. Configure WhatsApp as you normally would, with the same phone number you used before

  5. WhatsApp will ask whether you'd like to restore your chat history from iCloud; to proceed, tap Restore Chat History


ChatStorage.sqlite location & how to restore WhatsApp messages on your iPhone

If you’re a WhatsApp user and an iPhone owner, restoring WhatsApp messages back to your iPhone is easy with iPhone Backup Extractor. In this article we’ll teach you how to do it in a few steps.

How to extract and restore WhatsApp messages on your iPhone

In the method described below we use two devices, but you can use these instructions in different ways as long as you have a copy of these backups stored in a safe place. For example, you can use them to restore an old WhatsApp messages database on the same iPhone, or you can simply transfer your WhatsApp history to another device. You can even convert your WhatsApp database and import that to an Android device.

For this tutorial we used 2 devices:

  • An iPhone with the WhatsApp messages and data we want to extract
  • A second iPhone that'll receive the data from the first one

If you’re searching for a way to retrieve your WhatsApp messages, this article is what you need.

If you need to restore your WhatsApp messages on an iPhone, follow the next steps:

  1. Make an iTunes or an iCloud backup for the device from where you want to restore the messages. For iCloud support you’ll need a license. After logging in, you’ll be able to choose and download any backup file existing on your iCloud account. If you already have an iTunes or an iCloud backup with your WhatsApp chats and messages, you can skip this part.

  2. Download iPhone Backup Extractor for Windows or Mac, depending on your operating system, then install it.

  3. Start iPhone Backup Extractor and select the backup containing the WhatsApp messages, from the iPhone backup browser on the left-hand side.

    ChatStorage.sqlite location

  4. Choose "Expert mode", go to Application Groupsnet.whatsapp.WhatsApp.shared then select ChatStorage.sqlite. This file is the database used by WhatsApp to store your message history. Make sure you extract and download this file in a safe place. You’ll need it later. (You could just drag it out to your desktop.)

    Selecting the WhatsApp database
    Selecting the WhatsApp database

  5. Make a backup of the iPhone where you want to import the message history -- the second phone from our example. Go to the same path described at the previous step: Application Domainsgroup.net.whatsapp.WhatsApp.shared

  6. Make a copy of the second phone's backup in a safe place. If you don’t know where the files are stored, we can show you where to look.

  7. After you start iPhone Backup Extractor, right-click on the ChatStorage.sqlite file and choose "Replace File". Then select the ChatStorage.sqlite file extracted at the third step.

    Important note: the messages from the database will be replaced with the old messages from the first backup, so make sure you have a copy of it. Now you’ll have a modified iTunes backup containing the WhatsApp messages and chats from another backup file.

    Replacing files in an iTunes backup
    Replacing files in an iTunes backup

  8. In order to restore those WhatsApp messages to your smartphone, you need to get the modified backup restored to your phone. To do this, connect your iPhone to your computer and start iTunes. Choose to restore the modified backup on your device.

That’s all! After the iPhone restarts, you’ll see the WhatsApp conversations imported on your device. You can browse through the conversations as if they were made using your iPhone. Note that media attachments aren't visible in the messages, as we didn't move them. We get onto that below.

This method works from iOS 8 all the way up to the latest version. That means you can restore the WhatsApp messages from an iPhone with iOS 8 on your iOS 11 device -- for example -- and vice-versa. You can also retrieve and transfer the message history and chat from an iCloud or iTunes backup. This method works also for encrypted iTunes backups.

How to extract the attachments from WhatsApp to your computer

If you need to extract images from WhatsApp to your computer, you should follow the next steps:

  1. Start iPhone Backup Extractor.

  2. Select the backup where the old messages and the pictures are stored. Now, you've multiple options to extract the WhatsApp attachments from the backup. Depending on your technical skills, you can choose any of the methods. We’ve ordered them from the simplest to most complex:

    • On the "Overview", click the WhatsApp icon and choose a location for the files. Images and the HTML files with your messages will be saved, along with your media attachments in an accompanying "data" folder.

    Extracting all WhatsApp messages and attachments
    Extracting all WhatsApp messages and attachments

    • Use "Preview" mode then select all the messages. Click on "Extract", choose HTML or PDF format, and select a location for export files. The images and the conversations will be saved on your computer. You’ll find the images separate to HTML files -- if you chose that format -- in a folder labelled "data".

    Previewing WhatsApp messages
    Previewing WhatsApp messages

    • Use "App View" then go to "WhatsApp Messenger" and click on "All Photos". The media attachments will be extracted in the chosen location. Hurrah!

    Viewing WhatsApp's app data
    Viewing WhatsApp's app data

  3. Use "Expert Mode" then go to Application Domainnet.whatsapp.WhatsAppLibraryMedia. Select the "Media" folder and extract the data to your computer. This solution will extract the pics and videos from your WhatsApp message history.

    Extract WhatsApp data in expert mode
    Extract WhatsApp data in expert mode

Now you've all the WhatsApp attachments extracted from your device. As you can see, restoring WhatsApp messages to your iPhone is simple, as long as you use iPhone Backup Extractor and have a backup file containing the messages and their attachments.

Have you experienced issues trying to restore your WhatsApp data back on your iPhone? Drop us a note on live chat or through our support centre. We'll do our best to help. 👊

Frequently asked questions

How can I access my WhatsApp `ChatStorage.sqlite` file?

You can access your ChatStorage.sqlite file using "Expert mode" as described in the steps above, and iPhone Backup Extractor enables you to get that file both from iTunes and iCloud backups. You can use this when migrating your data to Android. We publish a guide to getting ChatStorage here.

How can I restore WhatsApp messages to a different phone?

We've got a neat guide on how to selectively restore WhatsApp messages to an iPhone or Android here.

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.

Compatibility

iPhone Backup Extractor runs on any Mac (10.10+) or PC (Windows 7 SP1 or newer).

Devices

Supports every iOS device

iPhone 11, 11 Pro Max. Everything older, including iPad and iPod Touch.

iOS

Supports every iOS & beta

iOS 13 and 12, and every earlier version. We started with iOS 1.

Backups

No recovery drama

We were first to support encrypted backups, iCloud & 2FA. Corrupted backups, too!

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Comments (2)

Добрый День! Скажите пожалуйста, возможно восстановить историю сообщений из ноутбука на айфон в вайбер ? Предварительно я забыл сделать резервную копию

Привет Влад, спасибо за комментирование. Посмотрите на это руководство.

Hi - thanks for the above guide. Is there a way to manage the CSV extract so that the WhatsApp messages can be viewed in a conversation format? i.e. in the similar way to viewing SMS messages in HTML format? Thanks.

Hi Anil, thanks for commenting. There sure is: check out the "Preview" tab in iPhone Backup Extractor. You'll see you can export from there, too, in a similar format.


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