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Touchscreen devices are great, but can also be frustrating. A simple tap on the wrong option, for example, and your WhatsApp chat history is gone.

You meant to hit Add a conversation shortcut, but instead you tapped Delete chat. Then you clicked “Yes” without thinking!

whatsapp-chat-delete

Your chats are gone now. leaving you without a record. How do you get them back?

Recovering Recent Chats

It’s surprisingly simple to recover anything less than seven days old: just uninstall the app, then reinstall it. WhatsApp automatically creates a backup of your data everyday at 4 am system time, and this data is stored on the SD card of your Android phone. When you re-install the app, you are prompted to restore your message history. Simply tap Restore and everything less than seven days old is restored.

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Done.

Recovering Older Chats

Chats older than seven days old are slightly more difficult to restore. Here are two methods, one manual and another using a web app designed for the job.

Method One: Manually

Navigate to the Database folder in the SD card – the exact route is /sdcard/WhatsApp/Databases. In the Databases folder you will see several files: the chat files. You will notice that they are saved with names like “msgstore-YYYY-MM-DD.1.db.crypt” where “YYYY-MM-DD” is the year, month and date respectively. (For more information on how to browse Android folders, please read our Android Guide).

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First, rename “msgstore.db.crypt”, adding “OLD” or something similar to the filename. Then check out the files below: should be several files marked with different dates. Select the file that you want to restore – find a file from before you accidentally deleted everything – and rename it “msgstore.db.crypt”.

Back to your Android device: uninstall and re-install WhatsApp. Choose Restore when prompted. The chat file saved as “msgstore.db.crypt” is restored and voilà, your old messages are restored.

Take note that restoring an earlier chat file will delete your current chat history, and there’s no simple way to merge your new message with your old, recovered messages. You can restore your new messages by repeating the process above, replacing your new msgstore.db.crypt with the “OLD” one.

Method Two: Using A Third Party Service

The second method is much faster, and involves using a free service known as Recover Messages. This free online service reads the contents of the database file and extracts the messages. Simply visit the website and select the database file from the SD card location on your Android phone, accept the terms of use and click Scan.

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Depending on the size of your file, the process may take anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. After the scan is complete, read your messages by clicking the tab labeled “Registers Recovered”. While this method is much simpler, you can only extract and read your old chats but you cannot restore them back to your WhatsApp chat history.

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Locating Deleted Images, Video & Audio

It may come as a surprise, but when you delete images and video from your WhatsApp chat history they aren’t really erased until you delete them. Locating WhatsApp images and video that you have deleted from the chat history is therefore fairly easy. On your phone, go to File Manager and in the WhatsApp folder open the Audio, Images or Video folder depending on the media you are trying to locate. Scroll through the list to find the file. You can also do this on your computer by connecting your phone via a USB cable and browsing the WhatsApp folders as shown in the screen shot below.

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You should find everything here.

If you are new to WhatsApp, I recommend this review Better Than Text Messages & Free - WhatsApp For Android Reviewed Better Than Text Messages & Free - WhatsApp For Android Reviewed A moment of introspection, please: What do you do more often - call people using your phone, or text them? I would bet it's the latter. For many people, texting is more convenient than calling.... Read More by Erez Zuckerman that details some of the great features.

Oh, and accidental deletion of messages is a common problem across all messaging platforms – not just WhatsApp. Tina’s post on How to recover deleted mails in Thunderbird How To Recover Deleted eMails in Thunderbird How To Recover Deleted eMails in Thunderbird Read More  shows that, and I’m sure there are other examples. Have you ever deleted important chats and media accidentally, and what did you do about it? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.

Image credit:  abulhussain via Flickr

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