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!
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.
On iOS, the process is even simpler. After accidentally deleting a message thread, just give your phone a shake and WhatsApp will ask if you’d like to undo the Archive action. Tap on Yes and the message thread will magically reappear.
Bear in mind that this “undo” trick only works for the last deleted message thread. So if you accidentally deleted more than one thread, it will only recover the most recent one.
Recovering Older Chats
Chats older than seven days old are slightly more difficult to restore.
This method only works if WhatsApp is set to back up to the local internal memory or SD card. So if you’ve set it to also backup to Google Drive, you’ll need to disconnect that first.
Remove your microSD card from your phone and insert it into a reader connected to your computer. Then navigate to the Database folder in the SD card – the exact route is:
In the Databases folder, you will see several files: these are your chat backup 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).
First, rename “msgstore.db.crypt” (which is the most recent chat database), adding “OLD” or something similar to the filename. Then check out the files below: there 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”.
Insert the microSD card back in your Android device, then uninstall and re-install WhatsApp. Choose Restore when prompted. The chat file saved as “msgstore.db.crypt” will be selected 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.
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.
You should find everything here.
If you are new to WhatsApp, read Mihir’s breakdown to find out everything you need to know about the latest features.
Oh, and accidental deletion of messages is a common problem across all messaging platforms – not just WhatsApp. Worse, you could deleted some important documents, like Microsoft Office files (we’ll show you how to get them back).
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.