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Today, I found a phone I thought I had lost a few years ago (an iPhone 5s).
I was wondering if I could extract the saved WhatsApp conversations from the iPhone to my PC and be able to read them?

I don't have the same phone number anymore, so I don't know if I could use another number and restore my chats.

Is there any way to extract those threads and read them? As it turns out, I also have them Backed up in iCloud, if that helps.

1

Introduction
The problem lies with the fact that WhatsApp does not store a history of your chats on its servers (except undelivered ones). That means that unlike other messaging providers, WhatsApp cannot simply repopulate your chat history on every device because there is no central location (server) that stores them for you. While this is a great step towards privatizing your chats, this makes things all the more difficult for your case.

Analysis

  1. In early 2017, WhatsApp has encrypted its backups to iCloud, which means that if you lost your iPhone prior to this, you may (optimistically) be able to read them in plain text. This would probably require you to connect the iPhone via cable to a third-party app on your Mac/PC like iPhone Explorer or iExplorer. I used these years ago to extract files hidden in the file system of an old iPhone 4. But I think it is saved to say that there is absolutely no guarantee that you will even be able to open any WhatsApp files you may find (due to encryption).
  2. It seems to be entirely possible, however, to restore your current iPhone from the backup of the old one and view your messages that way. For what its worth, you are better off not risking your current chat threads, so do a backup of your current state. Therefore you can always restore it to today's version if things start to go wrong.
  3. You may be interested in this article which discusses ways to transfer chat histories to other phones (Android, in case you switched to one - you didn't mention).

Conclusion
Based on the (limited) options available to you, I'd recommend trying the second one first as you will have the greatest chance of actually reading the messages, compared to option one and three. Please read through this guide to learn how to restore your chat history. I am interested if it works for you. Let me know how you get on.

  • Thanks for the research done here. We are looking for answers which stand on their own, without sending visitors to other sites for the actual solution (also, when a link breaks it reduces the value of your answer). So can you please summarize the content of the linked page (as far as it helps to solve the problem) directly in the answer? – nohillside Jan 9 '18 at 13:34
  • @patrix I have reviewed my answer and removed the links that were not critical to the answer. However, I wouldn't recommend removing the remaining four as their content is well-written and too long to write out in full, without even being certain which one the OP is looking for. In the future, I'll remember the advice. Kudos for pointing it out. – ProGrammer Jan 9 '18 at 23:20
  • Removal is not necessary, but if the last link breaks („this guide“) any future visitor will basically find an answer which just tells him that there was a solution, once upon a time. Please consider that the answer is not just written for the OP but for everybody out there with the same problem. – nohillside Jan 10 '18 at 5:14

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