Did you accidentally delete a photo you received on WhatsApp? Are you desperate because you don't know how to get it back? Well, very trivially, I would ask you if you have contacted the person who sent you the photo and asked them to send it back to you, but if you're here now and you're reading this tutorial, it seems obvious to me that this is not feasible.
At this point we have to resort to alternative solutions; solutions that fortunately there are and they are also very reliable. What am I referring to? I'll tell you right now. To recover WhatsApp photos, you can use some apps to restore deleted data, or you can take advantage of WhatsApp's backup feature, which allows you to restore your chats to a previous date.
Either way, you will need a little luck and, most importantly, a lot of timing: if the photo you are trying to recover has been deleted too long ago, you will not be able to restore it using data recovery apps, nor will you be able to find it in WhatsApp backups (which will then be after the date you deleted the image). For more information, read on, everything is explained below. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that everything goes well!
Deleted Photo Recovery Applications
If you want to recover WhatsApp photos without messing up all of your chats - i.e., without completely restoring the application - install data recovery software and see if the photos you are interested in are still in a "nook" of your smartphone's memory.
If you're using an Android phone and you've unlocked it via root, you can make use of DiskDigger, an excellent free application that allows you to recover JPG and PNG files deleted from your phone's memory. To unlock support for other file types you can purchase the Pro version of the application for €3.37.
To put DiskDigger's capabilities to the test right now, download the app from the Google Play Store, launch it and grant it root permissions by clicking on the Grant button that appears in the middle of the screen. Then wait a few seconds for it to scan your smartphone's memory, click on the No, thanks button to decline the invitation to buy the Pro version of DiskDigger and select the drive related to your phone's memory (/data).
On the screen that pops up, check the JPG and PNG boxes, tap the OK button, and wait for the images that DiskDigger was able to recover to be displayed. When you see the thumbnails of the photos you're interested in (hopefully, they'll really appear!), place a check mark next to them and click on the Recover button in the upper right corner.
Then click on the folder icon to save them in a folder of your smartphone or click on the cloud icon to save them on a cloud storage service (e.g. Dropbox or Google Drive) or send them via email.
Should DiskDigger fail to meet your expectations, try installing Undeleter, another data recovery app on Android. Like DiskDigger, Undeleter also needs root to work and is available in two versions: a free one that recovers photos and a paid one (2.75 euros) that also recovers videos and other types of files.
If you use an iPhone, you can try to recover WhatsApp photos with EaseUS MobiSaver Free, a software for Windows and Mac OS X that allows you to recover deleted data from iOS devices. The program can be used at no cost, but it has a rather important limitation: it allows you to save only one photo at a time (which, however, should not be a problem if you do not have to restore a large amount of images).
For more information on EaseUS MobiSaver Free and how it works, see my tutorial on how to recover deleted photos from mobile phone in which I covered this app (and the aforementioned DiskDigger and Undeleter for Android) in depth.
Restoring WhatsApp backups
If data recovery apps have not been able to resolve the issue, I am sorry but the only solution left to you is to recover WhatsApp photos by restoring a previous backup of the app.
In order for this to work, you must hope that the last backup you saved of WhatsApp on the internet (Google Drive if you are using an Android device, or iCloud if you are using an iPhone) was made before the date you deleted the photos you want to restore, otherwise there is nothing you can do, or almost nothing.
To check the date of the last backup made by WhatsApp, launch the application, go to the Settings menu (which on Android and Windows Phone is found by clicking on the (...) button, while on iPhone it is located at the bottom right of the app's main screen) and navigate to Chats & Calls > Chat Backup: the date of the backup is the one found next to the Last Backup item.
If the backup date is earlier than the date you deleted the photos, please restore WhatsApp by following the directions below.
- Delete WhatsApp from your smartphone;
- Download the application again;
- Start WhatsApp and follow the initial setup of the application;
- After number verification, when asked if you want to restore chats from previous backups, accept;
- Choose the name and photo you want to use on WhatsApp and you are done.
Mission accomplished! You should now have a restored WhatsApp with all of your old chats - and especially your old photos - in place. As you can easily see, any messages received after the backup date will not be restored and will be lost.
If your WhatsApp backup is from a date later than the date you deleted the photos you wish to recover, you can try one of these emergency solutions.
- If you are using an Android smartphone, you can restore an old backup created by WhatsApp to the device's memory. You can find the entire process in my article on how to recover WhatsApp Android conversations. Before you do this, disable the association between WhatsApp and Google Drive from this webpage (this way the application will not try to restore data from Google Drive instead of local backups).
- If you are using an iPhone, you can restore a backup of your phone from iTunes (from a date before you deleted the photos you want to recover) by following the directions in my tutorial on how to restore iPhone backups.
The success of the procedure is 100% guaranteed on Android, but not on iPhone: you have to try and cross your fingers!