I‘ve got an old iPhone in my closet, which I used until one year ago, when I bought a new one.

On the old iPhone, I had WhatsApp with iCloud Backup enabled. However I did not include the videos in the backup.

When I got the new one, I set it up via iCloud backup, and continued my online life and history.

Now I do miss these videos. Now I‘m wondering what happens when I start my old phone which has these videos locally, and open WhatsApp. What will happen? What will happen to the backup? What will happen to the chat history? Is there a way I could like download the messages on my old phone (and be current) while still having the videos, then recreate the backup, turn it off and then having the videos on the new device, when restored from backup?

  • When you got the new iPhone, and installed WhatsApp, You should have gotten a prompt about restoring from backup with a warning that you will not be able to do it later. Is that true? Further I think that before turning on iCloud back up for whatsapp on older phone, you should have your new phone backed up because of 2 reasons:1. older phone can override the older back up. 2. You cannot back up or restore WhatsApp standalone to or from an iTunes backup.
    – anki
    Jun 6, 2019 at 15:32
  • 1
    @ankiiiiiiii I did restore from iCloud backup which also contained the whatsapp backup, but sadly there were no videos included, and I noticed it too late Jun 6, 2019 at 21:12
  • 1
    If it is only videos, merging photo library seems the best option. Waiting for the correct answer too!
    – anki
    Jun 7, 2019 at 3:53

3 Answers 3

  1. If you have a Mac, you can navigate to the following folder using terminal:

    ~/Library/Mobile Documents/
  2. List all hidden files (from the terminal) to see a folder which looks like: 12HJ1123DHJ~net~whatsapp~WhatsApp, i.e. random alpha-numeric sequence ending with net~whatsapp~WhatsApp. cd into this folder.

  3. Next, navigate into Accounts/<PhoneNumber>/backup from this folder.

Finally you'll be in a folder whose path which looks like this (check with pwd):

~/Library/Mobile Documents/12HJ1123DHJ~net~whatsapp~WhatsApp/Accounts/<PhoneNumber>/backup

Your chat backup and history is stored in this folder. (Hidden files, can be seen with ls -al)

-rw-r--r--@  1 pse  staff  177 Jun  2 17:20 .BackedUpKeyValue.sqlite.enc.icloud
-rw-r--r--@  1 pse  staff  159 Jun  2 17:21 .Backup.plist.icloud
-rw-r--r--@  1 pse  staff  174 Jun  2 17:20 .ChatStorage.sqlite.enc.icloud
-rw-r--r--@  1 pse  staff  165 Jun  2 17:20 .Document.tar.aux.icloud
-rw-r--r--@  1 pse  staff  162 Jun  2 17:20 .Document.tar.icloud
-rw-r--r--@  1 pse  staff  158 Jun  2 17:21 .GIFs.tar.icloud
-rw-r--r--@  1 pse  staff  161 Jun  2 17:21 .Media.tar.aux.icloud
-rw-r--r--@  1 pse  staff  159 Jun  2 17:21 .Media.tar.icloud
-rw-r--r--@  1 pse  staff  161 Jun  2 17:20 .Media_1.tar.icloud
-rw-r--r--@  1 pse  staff  168 Jun  2 17:20 .Ranking.sqlite.enc.icloud
-rw-r--r--@  1 pse  staff  168 Jun  2 17:20 .Sticker.sqlite.enc.icloud
-rw-r--r--@  1 pse  staff  162 Jun  2 17:21 .Stickers.tar.icloud
-rw-r--r--@  1 pse  staff  167 Jun  2 17:21 .Thumbnail.tar.aux.icloud
-rw-r--r--@  1 pse  staff  163 Jun  2 17:21 .Thumbnail.tar.icloud
-rw-r--r--@  1 pse  staff  167 Jun  2 17:21 .Thumbnail_1.tar.icloud
-rw-r--r--@  1 pse  staff  172 Jun  2 17:20 .UserDefaults.plist.enc.icloud
-rw-r--r--@  1 pse  staff  161 Jun  2 17:20 .calls.log.enc.icloud
-rw-r--r--@  1 pse  staff  177 Jun  2 17:20 .current_wallpaper.jpg.enc.icloud

You can make a copy of this folder (cp -r)

Technically these are just Apple binary property lists:

$ plutil -p .calls.log.enc.icloud 
  "NSURLFileResourceTypeKey" => "NSURLFileResourceTypeRegular"
  "NSURLFileSizeKey" => 1411
  "NSURLNameKey" => "calls.log.enc"

The quest to find the actual data still goes on :-)

  • 1
    Hello, Welcome to Apple.SE! +1 for the backup finding tip! I followed your answer till you found the backup folder. But in the last lines, which two backups are you talking about? I think that the question is about merging videos "not backed-up anywhere" and a backup in iCloud. You might want to add that after making the new backup locally available, OP should backup older phone, then make the old backup locally available. After which some database openers like this can be used to merge them and then the sum backup should be uploaded to iCloud. sqlitebrowser.org. I hope I was clear.
    – anki
    Jun 11, 2019 at 5:58
  • 1
    Weird, it shows me this when I try to open the WhatsApp folder in Finder from the Terminal. And as for merging the Sqlite databases, I've edited my answer Jun 11, 2019 at 6:12
  • 1
    Each of these files is only 160-180 bytes, and (according to file .*) an "Apple binary property list". You can use plutil -p to show their content, seems to be just a reference to the real data stored somewhere else.
    – nohillside
    Jun 11, 2019 at 10:20
  • 1
    @The_Lucifer manual merging is a pain in the xxx ... but thanks for hinting me about the locations, so I can make a backup copy just in case. Actually for me it would be good enough when I just can start my old iPhone and ensure my newer backup is not overwritten or destroyed. I will probably start in flight mode, turn off whatsapp/iCloud backups, and then turn off flight mode. Then I should be able to save my wanted videos locally and upload them to, say, dropbox. Jun 11, 2019 at 10:59
  • 1
    As @nohillside pointed out above the files in this folder are just plist files though. The actual data is stored somewhere else. it's hidden, and running plutil -p on the plist files shows the file size and the file name of the backup file like this. however we have to determine where the actual backup file is located. Jun 11, 2019 at 11:03

You want to use this little tool to download files from iCloud: https://github.com/farnots/iCloudDownloader

Or even better, this complete tool that is designed specifically to download WhatsApp backups from iCloud and decrypt them (along with a great explanation of what's going on here): https://blog.elcomsoft.com/2017/07/extract-and-decrypt-whatsapp-backups-from-icloud/


What's App is linked to a phone number, not to a particular device, so normally, nothing weird should happen. If you want to be absolutely sure, copy those backups you don't want to lose to some other place. (that's what I would do) ;-)

  • How can iCloud backups of WhatsApp data get copied away?
    – nohillside
    May 13, 2019 at 6:50
  • Go to your iCloud, look for the desired files and/or directories, once you found those, select them and copy them to another place of your choice, on your iCloud, or on your computer. I would suggest to do these things on a computer, might be easier than on a smartphone. I'm sure you'll find the files you are looking for, but I can't tell you precisely where to look. :-(
    – Dakta
    May 13, 2019 at 7:26
  • 1
    We are looking for answers which provide specific information and step-by-step instructions. So if there is a way to access WhatsApp backup data on iCloud without using WhatsApp please describe this in detail.
    – nohillside
    May 13, 2019 at 7:37
  • @DaktaMoriamé backups of apps like WhatsApp are not accessible in iCloud AFAIK. I suggest that you add to your answer to backup locally once if that doesn't delete iCloud backup.
    – anki
    Jun 6, 2019 at 15:25
  • Vote down for factually incorrect and non-explanatory answer.
    – anki
    Jun 11, 2019 at 6:04

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