Apps

Why have I got missing WhatsApp messages after changing phones?

WhatsApp on smartphone
Back chat: recover missing WhatsApp messages. Photo by Alok Sharma on Pexels.com

If you’ve bought a shiny new phone recently, you might have noticed something’s not quite right when you fire up WhatsApp on the new device. Even though your chats have been restored from a backup, some of the messages from the past day or so have gone AWOL. Why have you got missing WhatsApp messages after changing phones? And is there anything you can do to get those missing messages back?

How WhatsApp backup works

WhatsApp chats can be backed up to either Google Drive or iCloud, meaning that you don’t lose your entire message history when you switch phones. However, by default, the backup is only set to run on a daily basis. So, if you switch to a new phone but your backup hasn’t run for the past 20 hours, you’re going to lose all those messages sent/received in the interim when you switch to the new phone.

There is a way to avoid this problem and that’s to force WhatsApp to perform a backup immediately before you switch to a new device.

To do this:

  1. Open WhatsApp on your phone, click the three dots in the top-right of the screen and choose Settings
  2. Click Chats and then Chat backup
  3. At the top of the screen, you should see a message showing when your last backup was taken (assuming you’ve previously set one up). Both local and Google Drive/iTunes backup times will be listed
  4. To force your phone to take a backup now, simply hit the Backup button and wait for the process to complete

Is there any way to restore missing WhatsApp messages?

If you’ve already switched phones, WhatsApp will have been deactivated on your old phone, because you can only have a WhatsApp account running on one device at a time.

You could try putting the SIM card back into the old phone, reactivating WhatsApp there, and see if the missing messages are stored in the phone’s memory. They should be there. You can then perform the backup procedure highlighted above.

Before you put the SIM card back in the new phone, delete WhatsApp from that phone. Now put the SIM card back in and reinstall the app. It should then restore from your new backup, complete with those previously missing messages.

WhatsApp icon

Where is WhatsApp backed up on Google Drive?

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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