WhatsApp has become an integral part of mobile communication these days. It has revolutionized the way we communicate and the progress of WhatsApp has been phenomenal. It’s got steadily updated over the years with feature enhancements and fixes while undergoing minimal aesthetic changes. The day they bring out the calling facility, will redefine the rules of the game once again. Viber should be careful. So should Facebook Messenger, even if it’s owned by the same company, Facebook. So should many other iterations and avatars of mobile chat platforms currently in the cyber space.
Since we are always connected and so attached to WhatsApp, it’s also important that we keep the conversations flowing no matter what device we use and regardless of whether we format the device or swap it with a different device. It’s always a pain backing up and restoring data while formatting or changing devices as we want to ensure that all the data get moved over safely to the fresh system. Thankfully, most of the apps have a cloud system where these data get pulled back automatically once we connect with our account. Contacts will get automatically restored as soon as we connect with our gmail account if you have enabled the option to sync your contacts with Gmail account. Apps also will get installed automatically, and so on.
Well, WhatsApp doesn’t help in this regard completely. They do have automatic data backup feature, but they save it in your internal storage itself. And it’s unreliable. Most of the times we end up with no backup or broken conversations as what we get back would be from a few days earlier than the day we formatted or swapped the device. Media files won’t be backed up to cloud, so no question there on automatic restoration. It doesn’t mean that all is lost, not at all. Read on. Let’s get to the business.
Here’s how to safely and securely backup and restore your WhatsApp data and media.
Backing up the Conversations and Media
1. Open Whatsapp and pull the drop-down menu. (Press the three dots on the top-right corner). Those who have a phone with Menu button, can press that as well. For iPhone users, there is a Settings option on bottom right menu.
2. Select Settings. Then open Chat Settings. (Then Chat Backup for iOS)
3. Click on Backup conversations (Back Up Now for iOS). (Make sure you disconnect from the network directly after you do this, since the messages you receive in the old phone between the time you take the backup and configure the new phone will be lost as they were already delivered to the old phone.) A backup file with all the conversations up until that point will be created in the internal storage of the phone. Let’s get it.
But here we split up for Android and iOS as they are two different ecosystems and they need two different methods to get this done. So depending on your allegiance, scroll down to 4a or 4b.
4a. For iOS
You will now see two options in the Chat Backup page in the phone – Auto Backup and Back Up Now.Head over to Auto Backup and turn it ON by selecting your backup preference – daily / weekly / monthly. Once it’s activated, all your WhatsApp conversations and media excluding videos will be automatically backup up to your iCloud account storage.
Now press Back Up Now to initiate a manual backup to the iCloud. It will analyse, compress and upload all the WhatsApp conversations and media to the iCloud storage.
To backup the video files, you can either sync it to the PC using iTunes or copy it manually to a folder in PC through USB.
4b. For Android
Now that you have backed up the conversations in step 3, open the file explorer app. If you don’t have an pre-installed file explorer app, install one from the Application store for your OS. File Manager is the one I use. It’s a simple and neat app to browse folders and helps to do various actions like Cut, Paste, Move etc.
In the file explorer app, head over to /sdcard/WhatsApp folder. Here, open the Databases folder. You might see more than one .db.crypt7 file. We need only the most recent one. Check the full file name or properties and select the most recent one, since that will be one we just created during the manual backup and has all the latest data. This is the file we need to keep safe and use for data restoration. Go back one folder and open the Media folder. Here we have the various media files like Audio, Images, Video, Voice Notes etc. We need to restore all of them. So copy the entire Media folder and paste it to the external microSD card or to the PC.
Make sure you copy all these mentioned folders to an external microSD card or a storage device safely before formatting the phone.
It’s fairly easy to restore WhatsApp data in iOS.
1. Login and activate iCloud in your device using the same account you used previously.
2. Install WhatsApp from the App Store, and follow the onscreen instructions to activate the phone number. Once it’s activated, the application should automatically search and restore the most recent backup data from iCloud.
3. All the backed up conversations and media (except for video files which you will need to manually transfer) should now be available in the app.
So, we already have the backup folders ready to be restored. And now you need to transfer them to the new/refreshed phone. If it’s to a new phone, I recommend either SuperBeam app or Lenovo SHAREit app, both will help you to transfer loads of files and folders between devices (also with a PC) at a very fast rate wirelessly. You can always copy them using a PC via USB also, or upload them to Google Drive and download later to the new device.
1. Install WhatsApp from Play Store. Don’t activate it just yet.
2. Open the file explorer app, and browse to the path /sdcard/Whatsapp. If there is no WhatsApp folder, create one with the name exactly as WhatsApp. Create the folder Databases inside it, if not already present. Paste the .db.crypt7 backup file that you copied earlier. Also copy and paste the folder Media under the WhatsApp folder. If there is an existing Media folder, replace it with the backed up folder.
3. So now, under the /sdcard/WhatsApp folder, you should have both Databases and Media folders which contain the most recent .db.crypt7 file and the media folders respectively. Now let’s activate WhatsApp.
4. Open WhatsApp and follow the onscreen instructions to activate the app. Next, if the data copy was done properly, the app should automatically find and restore all the media and conversations from the restored files and complete the set up process.
That’s it! I hope now you can see WhatsApp just like it was before.
Note that this is a ‘planned’ activity where we had time and had manually took backup and then formatted or swapped the device. When your phone crashes or doesn’t work anymore, sadly you might not get an opportunity to take the backup. So it’s always a good idea to take backup of at least the conversations from time to time and keep it safe in an external storage or cloud storage like Drive, DropBox etc. so you can ensure not everything is lost.
Hope this helped you! Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. If you have a better or alternate idea, please feel free to share them for the rest of us. 🙂