The WhatsApp Backup Plan You Need to Keep Your Chat History Safe

Whatsapp on smartphone with cloud upload
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Backing Up WhatsApp: A Quick Summary

Backing up your WhatsApp chat history to the cloud is something you should be doing regularly, to keep your data safe. Here’s a quick summary on how to do it on your iPhone:

  1. Make sure your WhatsApp has access to your iCloud account.
  2. Open WhatsApp.
  3. Tap Settings (the gear icon) on the bottom right of the main chat screen.
  4. Tap Chats > Chats Backup.
  5. Choose Back Up Now to create a current backup of your WhatsApp activity.

For backing up WhatsApp on Android, follow these steps:

  1. Open WhatsApp.
  2. Tap More Options (three vertical dots).
  3. Tap Settings.
  4. Tap Chats > Chat Backup.
  5. Tap the green Back up button.

Read on for step-by-step instructions, with screenshots, on how to integrate WhatsApp backups to your iCloud or Google Drive and set up a regular backup schedule. We’ll also tell you more about different strategies for managing your WhatsApp chats, give instructions to beef up your app’s privacy settings, and share other ways to stay safer online in the full article below.

There are two billion WhatsApp users around the world, using the app in 160 countries and 80 languages. You’re no doubt one of them, and you’ve likely built up quite a collection of important WhatsApp chats, funny videos, and irreplaceable photos on your account over the years.

But what happens to all that data if you lose your phone? What if you simply want to upgrade to the latest, coolest handset? Well, if you’re not backing up your valuable WhatsApp information, it may be gone forever. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

With just a few simple steps, you can keep a current copy of your chats, videos, and images securely stored in the cloud. That way, if you replace your phone, it only takes a couple of taps to restore your info to your new device.

Read on to find out how to safeguard your WhatsApp data.

Things to Know Before You Back Up Your WhatsApp Data

First things first. While backing up your WhatsApp data is quick and easy, there are a few things to know before you begin.

  • Changing Operating Systems: Unfortunately, there is no official WhatsApp functionality to transfer your chat history from one operating system to another. According to the official WhatsApp website, your identifying information will move to the new operating system, but not your chat history. While third-party apps exist that promise to transfer your data from one operating system to the other, proceed with caution. When you use these tools, you expose your private data to another entity. We generally don’t recommend sharing data unnecessarily. If you are changing operating systems, we recommend you use the Export feature built into WhatsApp and save your historic chat data in a readable file. Instructions to do that are at the end of this article.
  • Data Usage: Backing up your entire WhatsApp history can take a long time. If you are on a limited data plan with your cell phone provider, be sure to do a backup when you’re connected to Wi-Fi.

Now that the preliminary information has been disclosed, it’s time to back up your WhatsApp data.

Back Up WhatsApp from Your iPhone

WhatsApp on iPhone uses iCloud for backups. Before you can make a backup, you will need to ensure that WhatsApp has access to iCloud on your device. You’ll also need to make sure you have enough space (slightly more than two times the size of your backup file) on both your iPhone and iCloud account. After that, you can follow the steps listed below.

1. Give WhatsApp access to iCloud

  1. From your iPhone home screen, launch Settings.
  2. Tap your Apple ID at the top of the screen. Then tap iCloud:
  3. Screenshots Give WhatsApp Access to iCloud
  4. Scroll down the alphabetized list of apps to find WhatsApp.
  5. Make sure the slider is set to green (on).

2. Set your WhatsApp backup settings

  1. Open WhatsApp.
  2. Tap Settings (the gear icon) on the bottom right of the main chat screen.
  3. Tap Chats.
  4. Tap Chat Backup. After that, choose Back Up Now to create a current backup of your WhatsApp activity:
  5. Screenshots Set WhatsApp Backup Settings
  6. When your backup is complete, set an Auto Backup schedule (daily, weekly, monthly).*

*When setting an automated backup schedule, you can choose to include or exclude videos. If you have concerns about available space, turning off the video option is a good idea.

Restoring Your Chat Backup to iPhone

When you launch WhatsApp for the first time on your new phone, you can restore your history from the backup. When prompted during the initial setup, choose the option to “Restore Chat History” and your backup will launch from iCloud.

Backup WhatsApp from Android

WhatsApp uses Google Drive to make a backup from Android devices. You’ll need several things enabled to save your WhatsApp backups to Google Drive:

  • A Google account active on your phone
  • Google Play installed on your phone (this keeps your Google apps updated on your phone)
  • Enough available space on your Google Drive to store the backup
  • Enough free space on your phone to create the backup
  • A solid internet connection

Once you’re ready, you can start backing up your WhatsApp. Here’s how you do that.

Set your WhatsApp backup settings on Google Drive

  1. Open WhatsApp.
  2. Tap More Options (three vertical dots).
  3. Tap Settings.
  4. Tap Chats and then tap Chat Backup:
  5. Screenshot set WhatsApp Backup Settings to Google Drive pt 1
  6. Tap Back up to Google Drive and then choose how often you want to back up your data:
  7. Screenshot set WhatsApp Backup Settings to Google Drive pt 2
  8. Select the Google account where you want to store your backup data.
  9. Tap Back up over to select the network you want to use for backing up.* After that, choose whether to include videos in your regular backups by toggling the Include Video button, then tap BACK UP:
  10. Screenshot set WhatsApp Backup Settings to Google Drive pt 3

* Note: To avoid possible cellular data charges, you should do your backups over a Wi-Fi connection.

You can also do a manual backup anytime by tapping the green Back Up button.

Restoring Your Chat Backup to Android

Restoring your chats on a new phone or after uninstalling and reinstalling WhatsApp is simple. When you open WhatsApp for the first time on your new device, you will be asked if you want to restore your previous messages. Tap “Restore” to download your saved conversations from your most recent backup on Google Drive.

Other Ways to Manage Your WhatsApp Chats

Once you’ve backed up your conversations, you might feel like your WhatsApp could use some more organization. Luckily, there are a few other ways to keep your WhatsApp chats organized. Here are a couple of them.

Archive chats

If you only want to see your most important WhatsApp chats on your main screen, archiving older conversations is an easy way to keep WhatsApp uncluttered. Just swipe left on a chat, tap Archive, and the chat disappears from view. The message doesn’t get deleted, just hidden. If the person you were chatting with sends you a new message, the chat reappears at the top of your main chat screen, along with all the chat history.

While using the archive feature helps keep your screen tidy (a lifesaver for practitioners of Inbox Zero), it doesn’t do anything to free up space on your device. If you’re struggling with storage space on your phone or cloud storage account, deleting or exporting chats is a better option.

Delete Chats

There are a number of reasons why you may want to get rid of a WhatsApp chat for good. Whether you’re freeing up storage space or trying to forget an ex, purging chat history from your WhatsApp account is fast and easy. Sometimes it’s even cathartic.

  1. Locate the chat you wish to delete.
  2. Swipe left and tap the More option. Choose Delete Chat and, when prompted, choose Delete Chat again:
  3. Screenshots Delete Chat
  4. The chat will be permanently deleted from your WhatsApp account.

Export Chats

Perhaps deleting all evidence of a chat seems too permanent. Maybe you don’t want to see a chat in the app, but you do want to keep a copy stored somewhere else. WhatsApp’s got you covered. The export feature lets you save a text file of your chat for revisiting later outside of WhatsApp.

  1. Locate the chat you wish to delete.
  2. Swipe left and tap More.
  3. Choose Export Chat. Then, Tap Attach Media (to include all images/videos in the chat) or Without Media (chat only):
  4. Screenshots Export Chat
  5. When prompted, decide how and where to save the exported data file.

The original chat will forever disappear from your WhatsApp account, but the conversation will be saved in the form of a .txt file. If you chose to include media, your pictures and videos will be sent in separate files.

Final Thoughts

Backing up your WhatsApp data provides peace of mind and reassurance that, no matter what happens to your phone, your memories and conversations are safe and can be easily restored on a new device.

Now that you’ve got backups taken care of, you might also want to fine-tune your WhatsApp privacy settings. Many WhatsApp users aren’t even aware of the privacy ramifications that come with using this uber-convenient communication app.

There are other ways to safeguard your online data, too. Regularly backing up all the data on your Android device or iPhone is a good place to start. Beyond that, using a VPN when you go online is the best way to protect your overall online privacy.

It only takes a few minutes and basic security strategies to keep yourself – and your data – safe.

Frequently Asked Questions About Backing Up WhatsApp

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions we get about backing up WhatsApp.

The short answer is no. WhatsApp does not offer any functionality to backup your data in iCloud and restore it on an Android device (or vice versa).

While your basic information, like phone number and identity will transfer to your new phone, your chat history will not go along, too.

The only way to restore chat history on a phone with a different operating system, is by using one of the third-party apps on the market, designed to work around WhatsApp’s limitations.

Before you start, make sure you’re logged in to your Google account on your phone, and that the phone number from your backup matches the number for the restore.

  1. Uninstall WhatsApp from your phone.
  2. Reinstall WhatsApp on your phone.
  3. Open WhatsApp.
  4. Verify your phone number.
  5. Tap Restore when prompted.
  6. Once the restore is complete, tap Next.

First, be sure that you turn on iCloud Drive on your phone, and that you are signed in with your iCloud Apple ID. You’ll also need to be using the same phone number for both the backup and restore.

  1. Open WhatsApp.
  2. Tap Settings.
  3. Tap Chats.
  4. Tap Chats Backup.
  5. Verify the date and time of your last WhatsApp backup.
  6. Delete and reinstall WhatsApp on your phone.
  7. Verify your phone number.
  8. Follow the prompts to restore your chat history.
Tech journalist
Tove has been working for VPNoverview since 2017 as a journalist covering cybersecurity and privacy developments. She has broad experience developing rigorous VPN testing procedures and protocols for our VPN review section and has tested dozens of VPNs over the years.
Tech journalist
Liz is a professional writer with a special interest in online privacy and cybersecurity. As a US expat who travels and works in diverse locations around the world, keeping up with the latest internet safety best practices remains her priority.