[HOWTO] Transfer WhatsApp messages from Google Android to /e/ (backup and restore)

Update from /e/OS Team : Please note the App Directory location has changed. The path in this guide was relevant for Android 9 or Pie. The location has changed in A12 / A13 and may be found under Internal > Android >media > com.whatsapp

WhatsApp is bad at privacy, basically everything you type is sent to facebook, scanned and used for customizing the ads delivered to you. I guess it’s also used for surveillance purposes.
However for many of us it’s necessary: many customers use this platform and we can’t quit it. But still we want to use /e/ OS, instead of Google’s android.

This tutorial serves two purposes:

  • You just installed /e/ on your device, and you want to move your WhatsApp conversations from Google Android to /e/. If it was between two Google devices, you could use Google Drive, however on /e/ there’s not such option, but the operation is still possible
  • You reset your /e/ device and you want to restore your conversations. I’m not aware of any app doing this, for example Nextcloud is not saving WhatsApp data folders

Here are the steps to follow:

1. Backup your data from old device

Plug your device to a computer, mount it to read files, then go to storage and locate “WhatsApp” folder. Copy it to your computer.

If you prefer command line, enable adb on your device, then open a terminal on your computer and:

create destination:
mkdir Backup_folder

go to folder:
cd Backup_folder

do the backup:
adb pull /sdcard/WhatsApp

2. Prepare the new device

On the new device (it might be the old device after reset): install whatsapp. You don’t need to open it nor configure your phone number.

3. Restore your backup

On your device, close whatsapp (from configure → apps → whatsapp → close)

Switch to flight mode or switch off wifi and mobile data.

Plug your device to computer, mount it to read files, go to storage, locate WhatsApp folder, rename it as “wa.bak” or whatever, then copy the backup you made before from your computer to the storage, in the same position as the folder you just renamed.

If you prefer command line:

enter the shell:
adb shell

go to storage:
cd /sdcard

rename WA folder:
mv WhatsApp wapp.bak

exit shell:
you’re back to your computer

go to your backup folder:
cd Backup_folder

copy back files to the device:
adb push WhatsApp /sdcard/

4. Uninstall, reinstall, discover backup

Go to app manager, uninstall WhatsApp, exit flight mode or switch on wifi, install WhatsApp again.

Open WhatsApp and start to configure it (introduce your number, etc.) It should automatically discover a backup, and ask whether to restore or not. Say Yes.

All your conversations should be there.

Regain your privacy! Adopt /e/ the unGoogled mobile OS and online servicesphone


Thanks, but I don’t like the idea to have whatsapp
on the device, because it’s spying as hell.
To get a little privacy back, pls use this way


This post saved my life! Thank you, I really wanted to have all my Whatsapp chats on my new Fairphone with /e/ OS.

Thanks for making it so detailed. As a note, I did not use a computer, instead used an SD to move the “Whatsapp” folder from one phone to the other.

I’ll explain in more detail in case it’s useful to someone: I used the “Files” app on my old Android, copied the “Whatsapp” folder to an SD, put the SD in my new Fairphone, and copied from the SD to internal storage with the “Files” app as well. Then I removed the SD and continued the steps from this HOWTO guide.

Correct, I was doing it similarly for a friend as you. However, instead of the SD card I used the e.cloud (keep the storage limit of 1 GB in mind) for exchange


Hi! I’m trying to transfer my whatsapp history and all following these steps but I have a hard time (I’m really not good and have brain damage so computers/screens are generally difficult).
When I get to step 3 and plug in my new device (Fairphone 3) to my computer, I can’t find the whatsapp folder in the internal storage map, so then I can’t copy the backup.
Can somebody think of anything that I’m doing wrong?

Yoy have whatsapp installed under shelter? Than you have to

  1. Enable ‘file shuffle’ in shelter options
  2. Use shelter file manger. In menu on left side scroll down and you will see ‘main’ icon. Push it and you can access to main folders with your backup.
  3. Copy the backup to shelter whatsapp folder
  4. When setup Whatsapp you will ask to restore your backup you must answer with yes and you MUST accept the restore from G-drive. Otherwise the local backup wont find.

Thanks for your reply! Unfortunately i don’t have whatsapp installed under shelter (hopefully in the future I have enough skills for that).

A couple tries later, I think it might be easier if I buy a SD card tomorrow and try that! If that won’t work I will have to use Google Drive ( :nauseated_face: ) on my new google free phone. I think my skills might be too limited even for this, sorry I feel bad I waisted your time!

Won’t work because of missing original goolag services

If you install whatsapp not in shelter, you will lost your privacy. Whatsapp is one of most spying app. It’s not only collecting your whatapp data and your complete adress book with all notes abd renarks, it will also collect all awailable data from other apps.

Yeah I tried to read how to use whatsapp under shelter but it’s difficult for an amateur like me! Like what is Aurora? And with the contacts, do you have to transport them to a groupchat to transfer it to shelter? (If so, can you also do that without putting them in a group. like individually?) Also, nowadays I don’t even add some numbers as contacts in whatsapp, it’s a bit of trouble sometimes to figure out who is who when you only see the profile picture and number, but I manage. Can I also do this in shelter?
And if I would have skills enough to be able to do this, do I need to download shelter first onto my Fairphone 2 and then also to Fairphone 3 or just the FP 3 one?

So it’s like a foreign language to me hihi.

What is this “all awailable” data specifically? Beside the statement being vague and ominous apps can’t see each other’s data, that’s actually THE problem in even trying to transfer WhatsApp’s message database without root, not even the system file manager can get to it (basically you need WhatsApp’s cooperation and the complicated process above, you can’t just go and transfer app data from one device to another because YOU can’t get to it). Unless you’re rooted of course but is WhatsApp asking for root (and after what justification, it can’t be “I want to get data from other apps”) and who would allow the permission anyway, at least from people here…

I don’t have the tons of articles on my side which are reporting how FB apps are spying on you. Same way as goolag and Amazon is doing.

So maybe you should refrain from broadcasting wild speculations that are even impossible technically (or if you do to mention this is what your statements are)?

Sorry, but I stop here. If you have another point of view, OK

Thanks for the good HOWTO. When I uninstall WhatsApp in step “4.”, should I tick “Keep app data” or not?

yes, that’s right …

How do you do that? How to replace google drive?

When I followed the procedure, I get a twin icon on my smartphone

I tried to remove it but does not work. Some body had the same issue?

I have added my e.cloud to my nextcloud client (Nextcloud (Synchronization client) - https://f-droid.org/packages/com.nextcloud.client). Once properly setup you can move files as you need. But I wonder if this is needed. Methinks that your /e/ filemanager might also show you the nextcloud folders if your e.account is setup on the phone.


Great, thank you for this! It only worked at the second reinstall, but I am happy now.

I had to install WhatsApp twice, too, but I believe I was misled during the setup process the first time. When WhatsApp asks a question for restoring backups from GDrive, allow it: it will then asks for permissions for accessing your Media as to discover your local WhatsApp folder.