Recover deleted WhatsApp messages from iPhone using iTunes and iCloud backups
Recover WhatsApp menu icon

How to recover deleted WhatsApp messages

Our complete guide for WhatsApp message recovery.

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 ...even if they were deleted before the backup was taken

Easy!

What can be recovered

Messages

Messages

Photos

Photos

Videos

Videos

whatsapp

You'll need

A Windows PC or Mac

A Windows PC or Mac

An iCloud backup and credentials

An iCloud backup and credentials

Or an iTunes backup

Or an iTunes backup

iPhone Backup Extractor

iPhone Backup Extractor

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!

screen icloud

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 buy a licence of 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".

iTunes WhatsApp add backups

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

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.

iTunes whatsapp extract

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.

whatsapp html

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 chose a location to save them. Messages are extracted as HTML, whilst images and videos are saved in a separate folder called "Data".

    WhatsApp attachments preview mode

  • 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 Library > Media folder.

    Recover WhatsApp app view mode

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

    Extract WhatsApp images videos

WhatsApp photos recovery

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

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.

Ready to test it with your iPhone?

See what iPhone Backup Extractor can do for you.

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All iOS versions
Every iPhone, iPad and iPod

Compatibility

iPhone Backup Extractor runs on any Mac (10.8+) or Windows PC (Vista or newer).

Devices

Supports every iOS device

iPhone Xs, Xr, X, iPhone 8. Everything older, including iPad and iPod Touch.

iOS

Supports every iOS & beta

iOS 12 and 11, 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!

Privacy, security and trust

We met HM Queen Elizabeth Ⅱ at Buckingham Palace, after Reincubate was awarded the UK’s highest business award for our work since 2008 on developing this technology. Reincubate invented iPhone Backup Extractor, the world's first iOS data recovery tool.

Read more about Reincubate

Reincubate's CEO at Buckingham Palace

Help us improve

Can we improve this guide or make it easier for you or others access and recover their data? We’ve been doing this over a decade but there’s always room to improve, and we love hearing from users. Why not drop us an email, leave a comment, or tweet us @reincubate? 😊


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