WhatsApp Chat backup to FP3 - difficult due to transition phase

Hi everyone,
I’m really stuck with transferring my WA chat history to my recently arrived FP3. This has to do with waiting for the FP3, together with breaking down of the old device. Therefore, I didn’t use WA for 8 weeks, but got numerous messages in this time, which I don’t want to lose.
So the task is to restore the old chat backup (>8 weeks), and then have WA retrieve the new messages (<8 weeks).

  • Backup on GDrive exists, but when installing WA it shows no size and won’t restore.
  • Backup file is at hand, but no folder exists yet to put it in. I’ve manually created the WA folders on the SDcard and put the backup file in, still WA only offers and fails with the GDrive backup. Haven’t succeeded yet in retrieving the Key file from the old phone (which anyway shouldn’t be needed according to WA’s FAQs).
  • I thought the backup file might be corrupt, so I reactivated my old phone (really cumbersome, touchscreen separated from display etc.). But on the old phone, WA tells me to register my phone# again and won’t let me do anything else. I’m afraid that once I do that, all 8 weeks of new messages go to the old phone and get stuck there if I can’t backup them as well.

Am I right in assuming that WA chats are deleted from their server, as soon as the app has downloaded them? So, when reinstalling WA without restoring a backup, I won’t see a single message from the past? That’s why I am so wary with completing the WA installation, fearing that unread chats will be downloaded and lost if I had to re-install again.

Any insights on the mysterious paths of WA data, or on what I could do to get everything restored? Thanks!!

I recently helped someone restore a WhatsApp backup and to make sure the backup is found and usable I had to give the app permission to read files and folders before starting it the first time. Maybe this helps?

(This was on an FP2 with #lineageos and copying the backup manually, not using GDrive.)

Thanks @m4lvin ! It worked now.

After several installs of WA, the WA folder now existed in the internal memory. Inside, I created the “databases” folder with the backup file in it. I also gave WA file permissions, right after reinstalling it. Now finally the local backup was found and loaded :star_struck:

Anyway, quite an unpleasant and risky situation, I almost lost the complete chat history, only because the GDrive backup was corrupt and the local backup file handling is terribly implemented. Why doesn’t WA just ask whether there is a lokal file, and allow me to navigate to that file?

And why is WA anyway behaving like a silly old POP3 mailbox, downloading all messages locally into the unreliable hands of the user, and deleting them on the server? It can’t be for the sake of online traffic and server storage, since WA does send its backups daily to the cloud, creating even more traffic… which wouldn’t be necessary at all if the messages stayed on the server in the first place…!

Anyway, sorry for the rant, thanks for the help and enjoy your FP3 everyone! :wave:

The difference (and part of the reason I think) is that GDrive is hosted by Google (counting towards the quota of the gmail account) and this way WhatsApp does not need to store message archives themselves. Also, the claim that their system is end-to-end encrypted would not make any sense if all messages are backed up in plain text on their servers. Still, it is unclear to me whether the private e2e encryption keys are also in those backup files. If not, what actually happens to a message that is sent after shutting down an old phone but before setting up a new one. With proper e2e encryption the message should not be received / readable…