I have Google Drive backups turned on for WhatsApp, which I understand is for restoring lost conversation history. Android often prompts me to clear out my WhatsApp photos folder, though, to free up space. It makes me anxious because I may accidentally click yes, leaving me with my conversations but no photos.

If I clear the folder, are the photos gone forever?

If not, are they backed up in Google Drive along with the chats? Are they still shown in the app as thumbnails to download from the backup? How does it affect the user experience?

Once cleared, can the photos be accessed in another way? Either through a "preview" of my whole history (unlikely), or a folder in Drive with the photos (still unlikely since it's probably a hidden, app-specific folder)?

1 Answer 1


Google Drive backup is not linked in any manner to the WhatsApp folder of your device's internal storage. When you accidentally clear that folder, the media files gets deleted, and hence WhatsApp becomes unable to show those files. You can only see the chats, while the media files' thumbnails get blurred in the chats.

The way out is the following. Uninstall WhatsApp and then reinstall it. Make sure that the Drive account where your WhatsApp backup is stored is present in the device where you are installing WhatsApp. Now login to WhatsApp with your WhatsApp number, and WhatsApp will prompt you to download your chat backup. Accept that prompt, and your chats will be restored, along with all the deleted media files. The media files will even be restored in the WhatsApp folder of the internal storage.

Note: Three crucial points to remember:

  1. After your media files get deleted accidentally, make sure WhatsApp doesn't perform any chat backup (if in case, the daily or weekly backup option is turned on in your account). If a new backup happens after deletion of media files, the previous Google Drive backup will be modified and a subsequent restoration through the process mentioned earlier won't be able to restore the media files.

  2. After reinstallation of WhatsApp, if you don't accept the backup prompt, then you won't get any option to download backups later.

  3. If WhatsApp doesn't prompt you with any backup message, it's probably because the Google Drive account isn't linked to your device (or maybe some other glitch). You will require to uninstall and reinstall WhatsApp again, and follow the mentioned procedure.

Hope this helps!

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