How to Restore WhatsApp Conversations

Did you just change smartphones and are desperate because you can't retrieve WhatsApp messages that you had on your old phone? I guess it must be a pain to have WhatsApp's main screen empty... but don't throw in the towel, it's not the last word yet. In fact, I am convinced that by following my suggestions you will be able to retrieve WhatsApp conversations without any problem.

To regain possession of your messages you need to put WhatsApp in the condition to "see" your old backups, then you need to install the application on a device associated with the same phone number to which the backups are associated. Also, if you choose to restore chats from a cloud service like Google Drive or iCloud, your new smartphone must be linked to the same Google or Apple account as your old phone (the one used to generate backups).

I know, described in this way it seems a bit twisted, but you don't have to worry about it. It's actually a very simple procedure that you can complete in just a few minutes. You'll find all the information you need below (and in the in-depth posts in the guide). Good luck!

Retrieve WhatsApp conversations on Android

If you use an Android terminal, you have two ways to retrieve WhatsApp conversations: one that uses the backup files generated locally by the application (i.e. on the phone memory) and another that uses Google Drive (i.e. an online service).

  • To restore WhatsApp conversations from a local backup, you must copy the chat file (msgstore.db.crypt12) to the HomeWhatsAppDatabases folder on your smartphone and install (or reinstall) WhatsApp. Your phone must be associated with the same number as the one that was backed up.
  • To restore conversations from a Google Drive backup, simply install (or reinstall) WhatsApp on a phone associated with the same phone number and Google account as the one being backed up.

In both cases, the application automatically detects the backup file during the initial setup procedure, after checking the number, and asks the user whether or not to restore the conversations. Almost needless to say that the most convenient way to pursue is Google Drive, but unfortunately, restoring via the Google home cloud service does not allow you to choose the backup to use: you can restore only the most recent backup made on the service. Having made this necessary clarification, let's banish the babble and take action by seeing how to restore WhatsApp conversations on Android.


Restore conversations from Google Drive

As mentioned earlier, to restore WhatsApp conversations from a Google Drive backup, you need your smartphone in use (i.e., the smartphone on which the messages are to be restored) to be associated with the same phone number and Google account as the one from which the backup is to be restored.

To make sure your smartphone is associated with the same Google account as the WhatsApp backup that you want to restore, open the Settings app (the one with the gear icon), go to Account, select the Google logo from the screen that opens, and check the Gmail address configured on your phone.


If the Google account that you set up on your phone is the same one that was associated with the smartphone that WhatsApp is backed up from, no problem: Install (or reinstall) WhatsApp from the Play Store, follow the app's initial setup process and, after you verify the number, respond Restore to the backup restore request from Google Drive.


If the Google account associated with your phone is not the same as the one that was associated with the smartphone from which WhatsApp is backed up, go to Settings > Android Accounts and delete the Google account currently configured on your device by selecting the device, pressing the (...) button at the top right and selecting Remove Account from the menu that appears. The data associated with the account will be removed from your smartphone but will remain stored in the cloud.


Next, go back to Settings > Accounts and press Add Account first (at the bottom of the screen) and then Google. Next, type the login information for your WhatsApp backup Google account and you're done.


Now install (or reinstall) WhatsApp and after checking the number the app will ask you if you want to restore the backup from Google Drive.

Restore conversations from local backups

Want to restore a backup prior to the one made on Google Drive? Don't have a backup of WhatsApp on Google Drive? No problem. As mentioned earlier, you can also recover your conversations using the backup files that WhatsApp saves locally to the smartphone memory on which it is installed.

To retrieve WhatsApp's local backup files, install the free ES File Manager and use it to enter your HomeWhatsAppDatabases folder (just press on the burger icon located in the top left corner and navigate to the folders I just mentioned, using the Local menu located in the left sidebar). Then locate the file msgstore.db.crypt12, keep your finger pressed on it and select the item Other > Share from the menu that appears at the bottom to send it to you via email or save it on a cloud storage service.

If you do not want to restore WhatsApp chats to their current state but to an older date, look for the backup file named msgstore-[date], where instead of [date] is the date when the backup was made, and rename it to msgstore.db.crypt12 (you will have to rename the existing msgstore.db.crypt12 file).



Once you have exported the file, copy it to the HomeWhatsAppDatabases folder on your mobile phone where you want to restore WhatsApp conversations (you may need to manually create WhatsApp folders), install or reinstall WhatsApp on your mobile phone, and after you verify the number, agree to restore your conversations. That's it!

If WhatsApp does not "see" your local backup files but attempts to retrieve conversations from Google Drive, do not accept data restore, uninstall the application and link to the Google Drive permissions page. Then remove WhatsApp from the list of applications associated with Google Drive and reinstall WhatsApp on your smartphone. At this point, the application will not have access to Google Drive (you can enable it again after restoring your conversations) and will be "forced" to use local backups.


If you need to, know that you can "force" the creation of a new backup in WhatsApp by launching the app, pressing the (...) button in the upper right corner and going first to Settings and then to Chat > Chat Backup. Now, place a checkmark next to Include Video if you want to include videos in the backup, press the Back Up Chats button and patiently wait for the backup to be made both locally and on Google Drive.

In case you don't understand some of the steps, read my tutorial on how to retrieve WhatsApp Android conversations in which I explained in detail everything you need to do.

Retrieve WhatsApp conversations from iOS to Android

Are you trying to transfer your conversations from an iPhone to an Android phone? Then take a look at the Wazzap Migrator for Android application that allows you to "translate" the chats saved in iTunes backups into an Android compatible format. It's free in its free basic version (which adds "promotional" text to all messages), while the full version costs €3.79. It's a third-party application not officially supported by WhatsApp, so it may not always work perfectly or it may stop working in the future (then don't tell me I didn't warn you!).

If Wazzap Migrator does not work, you can try Wondershare's Dr. Fone which requires the phone to be physically connected to your computer (and is also charged after an initial free trial period).

Retrieve WhatsApp conversations on iPhone

WhatsApp backups are not stored locally on iPhone. Conversations are automatically saved to iCloud (on a daily, weekly or monthly basis) and can be restored by simply installing (or reinstalling) the application on a "melaphone" associated with the same number and Apple ID as the phone being backed up.

To "force" a backup to iCloud, start WhatsApp on your old iPhone, select the Settings tab at the bottom right of the screen, go to Chat > Back Up Chats, and press the Back Up Now button (to do this while having an active SIM with the number previously used on the terminal). If you also want to include videos in your backups, move the Include videos option toggle to ON.


Once this is complete, install (or reinstall) WhatsApp on your new iPhone by downloading it from the App Store, verify the number and accept the restoration of your old conversations by pressing the Restore Chat History button.


In case of problems, go to the Settings menu on the iPhone (the gear icon on the home screen) and check that the account associated with the phone is the same one used on your old "melaphone".

In addition, select your photo, go to iCloud, select the iCloud Drive entry and verify that data synchronization with iCloud Drive is active (otherwise move its "toggle" to ON). You can find more information about the whole process in my post about how to retrieve WhatsApp iPhone conversations.

Note: If you use an iOS version older than 10.3, to verify your iCloud account settings, go to the Settings > iCloud menu.

Retrieve WhatsApp conversations on Windows Phone

Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile also allow you to make WhatsApp backups and restore them using the cloud or local backups. In order for the message restore process to be successful, your phone must be associated with the same phone number and Microsoft account as the phone from which it is backed up.

To verify the Microsoft account associated with your Windows Phone, go to the Settings menu and go to Email and App Accounts. If your phone is not associated with a Microsoft account, tap Add a Microsoft account and enter your WhatsApp backup account login information. If the account is associated with another account, you must restore the system and associate it with the "right" account.


At this point, all you have to do is install (or reinstall) WhatsApp from the Windows Store, run the phone number verification and accept the restore of conversations by "tap" on the restore button.

If you have not backed up conversations on OneDrive, you can only retrieve WhatsApp chats if your Windows Phone has a microSD slot and the phone you want to retrieve WhatsApp conversations from had one. In this case, all you need to do to restore WhatsApp backup is insert the SD card into your phone, install or reinstall WhatsApp, and accept data recovery from the media card (by doing this, your smartphone does not need to be associated with the same Microsoft account as the one from which the backup files came).


If you need it, you can make a new backup of WhatsApp on OneDrive and Windows Phone memory by starting WhatsApp, pressing the (...) button at the bottom and going to Settings > Chat and Calls > Backup.

Retrieve WhatsApp Conversations on a PC

Finally, let's see how to retrieve WhatsApp conversations from your computer. If you have an Android smartphone rooted and haven't deleted WhatsApp folders from your device, you can retrieve your conversations and read them from the comfort of your computer. All thanks to WhatsApp Viewer, a small, free, open source application available for Windows systems.

Before you download the application and see how it works, grab your phone and extract the WhatsApp files you need by following the steps below.

  • Install ES File Explorer, start it and grant it root permissions. If you don't know how to do this, press the burger icon in the upper left corner, move the Root Explorer stick to ON and press the Grant button in the middle of the screen;
  • Go to your HomeWhatsAppDatabases folder, hold down your finger on the msgstore.db.crypt12 file icon and select Other > Share from the menu that appears below to send the file to yourself via email or save it to a cloud storage service (e.g., Dropbox);


  • Push on the hamburger icon located in the upper left corner, select the Device item from the sidebar of ES File Explorer and go to the Dispositivodatacom.whatsappfiles folder;
  • Hold your finger on the file key icon, select Other > Copy in from the menu below and copy the file to a folder of your choice (e.g. Download or Home);
  • To finish, go to the folder where you just copied the key file, hold down your finger on the key file icon and send it to yourself using the function Other > Share.

Now you have to download WhatsApp Viewer on your computer and feed it the files you have just extracted from your smartphone (msgstore.db.crypt12 which contains the conversations in encrypted form and the key used to decipher the content).

  • Go to the official WhatsApp Viewer website and click the Download here folder first and then the WhatsApp.Viewer.zip icon to download the program to your PC;

  • Open the WhatsApp.Viewer.zip archive and extract the contents to any folder;
  • Launch the WhatsApp Viewer executable and select Decrypt .crypt12 from the File menu (top left);
  • In the window that opens, click on the [...] button next to the Database file item and select WhatsApp's msgdtore.db.crypt12 file;
  • Click the [...] button located next to the Key File item, select the WhatsApp key file, and press the OK button twice in a row;
  • In WhatsApp Viewer's File > Open menu, click the [...] button located next to the File item (in the window that opens) and select the msgstore.decrypted.db file that the application previously generated;
  • Type the email address associated with your Android smartphone into the Account name field and click OK to view WhatsApp conversations.

That's it. I'd also like to suggest software that can recover WhatsApp conversations from formatted smartphones without backup files, but unfortunately these are "desperate" situations where there isn't much to do.

If you're trying to recover WhatsApp messages in "desperate" situations, the only advice I can give you is to scan your phone with the programs I recommended in my tutorial on how to recover deleted files from your phone, but this is an attempt that is unlikely to lead to anything concrete.

Bibliography consulted in Spanish

Fordatarecovery.com is a website that aims to provide information on how to recover lost data from any device. We love new technologies and useful software, so we want to share as much information as possible and make sure that everyone can recover data lost on any device.
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