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I need to set up a new phone with a new Apple ID for a friend. We're facing two technical problems:

  • We need to preserve some data from the old phone (specifically, the WhatsApp chat log).
  • We don't know the password to the Apple ID the old phone is linked to.

Current situation: We have the old phone (associated with the old account), and we have successfully updated it to the latest iOS version and backed it up via iTunes. The old phone does not have iCloud services/backup activated.

We have the new phone (factory reset), updated to the same iOS version (11.2.2).

I was able to successfully restore the backup to the new phone. However, in order to install the apps (and thus access their data) from the old phone, they need to be downloaded with the old Apple ID, for which we don't have the password (and no way of resetting it either).

If I bind the phone to the new Apple ID, I have to delete and reinstall WhatsApp, so the chat logs will be gone. Is there any way to back them up and restore them to the new ID (the phone number/SIM card remains the same)?

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You could try backing up the old iPhone's WhatsApp chats to iCloud. This is a feature of WhatsApp and would only backup and recover WhatsApp Data. This is different from the 'normal' iCloud backup, which backups App Data.

The WhatsApp feature is described here: https://faq.whatsapp.com/en/iphone/20888066/#backup

To backup the chats to iCloud:

To make a manual backup of your chats at any time, go to WhatsApp Settings > Chats > Chat Backup and tap Back Up Now. This will back up your chats and media to your iCloud account; you can choose to include or exclude videos from the backup.

To recover the chat history on the other iPhone:

To recover your chat history from an iCloud backup, first verify that an iCloud backup exists in WhatsApp Settings > Chats > Chat Backup. If you can see when the last backup was performed, delete and reinstall the app from the App Store. After verifying your phone number, follow the on-screen prompts to restore your chat history. The same iCloud backup requirements apply for iCloud restore. In addition, the phone number used for backing up and restoring must be the same.

This should work to manually backup WhatsApp data to iCloud.

  • Thanks, but as I wrote, iCloud has not been activated on the original phone, and I don't have the password required to do so. – Tim Pietzcker Jan 12 '18 at 14:31
  • Is it possible for you to log in with a new iCloud account on the old phone and backup the data to this, different, iCloud account? – intagli Jan 12 '18 at 15:01
  • Ahhh....that might be worth a try. I hadn't thought of that. Thanks! – Tim Pietzcker Jan 12 '18 at 15:02
  • It worked - however it seems that the backup wasn't necessary at all, funnily enough. I'll still accept your answer since it helped me a lot, but I will also write my own answer to show what worked for me. – Tim Pietzcker Jan 12 '18 at 17:22
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What I did was the following:

  • Back up the old phone
  • Remove SIM and put it into the new (factory reset) phone
  • Restore the backup on the new phone (with the old Apple ID still active)
  • Cancel all the password requests (one for each app the phone tries to download)
  • Delete all the apps on the new phone
  • Log off on the old phone and log in with the new Apple ID (answering Yes to the question whether I want to merge my data with iCloud)
  • Enable iCloud on the old phone
  • Enable Chat backup in WhatsApp on the old phone, do a complete backup
  • Log off on the new phone and log in with the new Apple ID (answering Yes to the same question)
  • Open the App Store and download WhatsApp with the new Apple ID
  • Start WhatsApp, link it to the new phone
  • Boom - all the chats were already there. Since there was about .5 GB of data, I'm sure that they had been there all the time (so they obviously were not deleted when I deleted the WhatsApp icon when I was still signed on with the old Apple ID). But if they hadn't been, they would have been restorable from iCloud.

Phew! That's a big relief.

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