EDIT: The problem described happened to be related with the use of WhatsApp Web instead of WhatsApp app on the phone.

In my WhatsApp chats a couple of months old, I see placeholders for photos, videos, or voice messages. However, the photo itself is not shown, and when I click on it, the error message appears "Photo unavailable. Can't view this photo because it's no longer on your phone."

I myself have never deleted any of these photos from my phone. The message has not been deleted by the other party. I guess it's WhatsApp itself that deletes the media files after a couple of months. How do I stop this? I want all my sent or received WhatsApp media to be kept on my phone for unlimited time.

2 Answers 2


WhatsApp doesn't itself delete photos. I have once faced such a problem myself, and it's nothing serious.

Here are two solutions:

1.Go to the Phone Settings > App Settings > WhatsApp and clear the cache. If possible, force stop the app too. Now, restart the aplication and it should work.

2.If the above method doesn't work, restart your phone once.

3.If your WhatsApp data (media files) is set to be stored in any external storage device (SD Card), then go to the relevant phone settings, turn off the option for external storage, and then turn it on again. The problem should be solved by now. If it still doesn't work in this case, then unmount and remount your SD Card.

Hope this helps!


The described behavior is particular to the use of WhatsApp Web (or, maybe, also the WhatsApp app on the computer, I did not try).

I typically use WhatsApp from the web browser on the computer (WhatsApp Web), not from the phone. When I click on a media in WhatsApp Web, the media is shown, and I assumed that it would be synchronized with the phone (downloaded to the phone, saved there, and then shown on the computer). No. It is not downloaded to the phone, only to the computer. What is more, it is not saved on the computer but is only shown directly in the app.

Consequently, as time passes and the original media is no more available for download, there is no copy saved on the computer, and there was never any copy saved on the phone.

In order to have the media downloaded to the phone, you need to open the WhatsApp physically on the phone and tap the media. Presumably, after that the media would be saved to the phone and will not disappear anymore, as the other answer indicates.

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