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Friday, October 15, 2021

Chp 872. WhatsApp backup recovery FAILED.

In my previous post I wrote about how WhatsApp can automatically delete your account if you're inactive for more than 45 days.

After my phone conked, I bought a new phone, but I wanted to recover my old WhatsApp local data before installing WhatsApp on my new phone. Eventually, I spent more than 3 months trying to recover it and finally gave up.

When I installed WhatsApp on my new phone and tried to sync my old Google Drive backup, I discovered that WhatsApp automatically deletes your account (hence deleting everything including your Google Drive backup) if you install WhatsApp on a new device using the same number after being inactive for more than 45 days!

Such a tremendous loss for me... :(

So, yeah, I'm starting as a completely fresh user on WhatsApp again.

Anyway, in this post, I want to share my attempt to recover my local backup from my dead phone. :D

Some of you may wonder why I took more than 3 months trying to fix my phone. The reason is simple - Bloody Corona.

Mizoram, unlike other states in India, had seen the strictest lockdown restrictions in the country. Ever since the second wave hit India, Mizoram had been under lockdown almost the entire time. And so, due to that, it was not possible to take my phone to a repair shop.

I decided to order the required parts from Amazon and tried to fix it myself.

That's when I met the biggest hurdle.

Amazon delivery to Mizoram was fluctuating between "close" and "open" during the past 4-5 months. One week we could place our order, and the next week the very same item showed "cannot be shipped to your location" notice, which again was removed the next week after that and we could place our order again, and so on.

And even if we managed to place an order during that very small window frame and our orders were approved and despatched, items that arrived at Mizoram (Vairengte check-gate) during active lockdowns were automatically returned!

Even if the items managed to enter Mizoram during a non-lockdown phase, we again had area-wise "containment zones" (depending on covid positive rate surge within a particular locality). Such "containment" lasts for just a week or two, but if the items reached Aizawl and the locality of the main Amazon office was under containment during the same time, the items were returned!

And finally, even if the main office wasn't under containment when the items arrived, if the delivery location (my address in this case) was declared a containment zone, again, the items were freaking returned! Seriously, why couldn't they just wait for a week and leave the items in their warehouse till then?

Aaaaaaargghhh. Now you can understand my frustration?

Of course every time my orders were returned, I was refunded the full amount. But that's not the point. In fact, I was at a point where I no longer gave a sh*t about the refund, all I wanted was just my bloody orders.

After many cancellations spanning across 3 months, I finally received all the parts I had ordered. Phew!!! Here are the three elusive items:

OnePlus 6 BLP657 battery from The Black Store.

USB Charging Board Port Flex Cable from Shinzo.

14-in-1 Professional Mobile Tool Kit from MMOBIEL.

And with those items finally at my disposal, I was ready to perform my first ever OnePlus 6 operation!

The hairdryer above belonged to my sister and I used it to heat the back panel of the phone so that it would loosen up the glue and I could easily pull it open using a suction.

I watched a lot of YouTube video tutorials and one of my favourites was this video by Wit Rigs. I must have watched the video at least 100 times, by-hearting every little step.

But as the saying goes, doing something by theory and practical are completely different. For instance, opening up the back panel was tough AF!

In the above video (and other videos uploaded by different techies), they easily heated the back panel and opened it. They made it look so easy, lolz. In reality, though, things weren't like that. I eventually ended up "tripping" my sister's hairdryer, much to her anger :D. I had to go and borrow another hair-dryer from my neighbour.

Finally, I managed to crank it open, cracking the glass back panel in the process.

I lamented my loss, but at the same time, I was elated that I could finally open it. 

Here's the opened back panel.

I followed every step that was mentioned in the above video.

The "magnetizer" tool that came with the tool kit was extremely helpful. Once unscrewed, I could just take the tiny screws out from the tiny hole using the magnetizer tool directly (or rubbing my screwdriver to it so that it transferred its magnetic property).

Everything went on well after that. No hiccups. I was starting to think God didn't hate me after all. :)

And then of course, it happened. Murphy's Law. The final screws that needed to be removed were stuck! No matter what I did, what tool I used, they couldn't come out.

Aaargh. So close to the final step!

Guess what I did instead then?

I attached the new battery, and then took the new USB port cable and attached it to the phone motherboard directly and then connected the charger to it! And yes, my phone started charging! :D

"I'm a genius!" I exclaimed to myself. :D :P

Slowly, my phone was charging up. I was sooo excited because I was finally going to bring my dead phone back to life again!

While it was charging, I tested my phone and it rebooted, with no issue!

But that's where I think I made a very fatal mistake. You'll find out about this a bit later below.

And so my phone slowly kept charging and charging, and finally, it was 100% again!

With trembling hands, I detached the charger. I could hear an imaginary drum-roll in the background as I pressed the power button again...

Nothing happened.

Pressed it again and again, and again.


It was starting up just a while ago while I was charging the phone, what the hell happened?

And so I decided to screw back all the screws properly, thinking there must be a loose connection as it was still opened up. But even then, the phone was still not switching on.

I opened up all the screws again, removed all the parts, and then attached all of them again and tightened all the screws. I didn't even need to refer to the YouTube video anymore as I was becoming a pro at it.

Once done, I pressed the power button again.

Still nothing!

I was really starting to panic. I watched many other videos and read many forums, and finally decided to dismantle the motherboard and have a look at the power circuit.

It was then that I noticed one thing!

In the YouTube video, the cable leading to the power button looked like this (circled below) -

Whereas MY phone power button cable looked like this -

Can you see the burnt-out cable in my phone above (circled)?

That was probably why my phone was not starting up. But then, how did it start up while I was charging the phone earlier?

I looked at the photos I had taken earlier, when I had first opened the back panel, the photos taken before I had attached the battery and USB port cable. I wanted to investigate this anomaly.

It was then that I noticed, in the first few photos, the power cable was perfectly fine!

I'm not a mobile phone repair expert nor do I understand circuit boards, but I do know that a wrong voltage can blow a fuse in an electrical wiring system.

The fact that I had connected the battery and USB charging port so unorthodoxly must have somehow fried the power cable when I switched it on while it was charging.

Aaarrghhh, why was I so damn impulsive!

Had I not done that, had I just waited patiently, I don't think this would have happened. Alas. I paid a price for my impetuosity.

Ordering a new power cable would again take so many days, and that didn't guarantee a full phone recovery either. Finally, I said, "Screw this!" and installed WhatsApp on my new phone without retrieving my old local backup, hence losing every WhatsApp data in the process.

Now you know the story behind it. :D

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Chp 871. Things you may not know about WhatsApp.

I'm finally back on WhatsApp again after more than 3 months of inactivity.

That's a really long time to stay out of touch with friends and family. It gave me a mixed feeling of both anxiety (fear of missing out) and tranquillity (bliss of missing out).

But it also taught me a very important lesson - Thou shalt not be greedy. There is this old Mizo proverb - "Duham chu channa", which means, "Greed leads to loss".

In my attempt to eat the icing on the cake, I ended up destroying the entire cake.

So what happened was, my phone suddenly died 3+ months ago. I couldn't access my local WhatsApp backup file as my phone was completely dead (battery + USB port fried).

And the last time I did a complete cloud backup of my WhatsApp data to my Google Drive was more than 2 years ago.

Long story short, I wasn't successful in my attempt to retrieve my local backup from my dead phone, and after 3 months of failed attempts, I finally decided to install WhatsApp on my new phone and do only a Google Drive sync, thinking that I may not get back my recent messages but I'll at least get back all my messages from 2+ years ago.

Something's better than nothing, right?

And that's when I learnt that WhatsApp automatically marks your account as "inactive" if you don't use it for more than 45 days (can be due to idleness, no internet coverage or uninstallation).

If you start using WhatsApp again or reinstall WhatsApp on the same device again after 45 days of inactivity, your account will automatically be activated again, giving you no problem at all. You won't even know this process had taken place in the background. Everything will be normal for you.

However, after 45 days of inactivity, if you install WhatsApp on a new device using the same phone number, then WhatsApp automatically considers your phone number to be "recycled" and is being used by a different user, and so it automatically deletes your WhatsApp account and creates a new one! [source]

Aaaargh, I didn't know that!!

Because I installed WhatsApp on my new phone after 45 days of inactivity, my WhatsApp got deleted immediately, and so I was automatically removed from all groups, my profile picture and status were deleted, along with my block list, mute list, sticker collection etc., and worst of all, my Google Drive backup was also deleted!!!!

Yes, in my attempt to retrieve my recent messages, I ended up losing not just them but my entire WhatsApp data and settings!

So do keep this in mind if you're experiencing a similar issue. Make sure you install WhatsApp on your new phone before 45 days of inactivity if you don't want WhatsApp to delete your account. Do learn from my mistake.

But my disappointment wasn't as devastating as my girlfriend's though.

When Lalani's mom Nu Mahlimi passed away on 14th January this year, it was a very difficult time for her and her family. But they were strong and somehow managed to pull through. Life slowly got back to normal for them. Her mom was still there in their various family WhatsApp groups, and they continued chatting in the groups like it was normal.

And then suddenly one fine day, 4 months after Nu Mahlimi's sad demise, Lalani and her brothers all woke up to the heart-piercing WhatsApp message that "Nu Mahlimi had left the family groups"!

That was such a shattering notification to read, opening up old wounds all over again. The emotional repercussion was intense. It was a feeling nobody should ever live through again.

So apparently, WhatsApp automatically deletes an account if it is inactive for more than 120 days. [source]

Such a heartbreaking incident. If only I had known about this, I could have warned her about it and her brother could have just logged into WhatsApp from Nu Mahlimi's mobile phone. But I only found out about this as I was researching for this post.

So I hope at least I'm able to warn you all about this so that you may not experience such unpleasantness in the future. If your loved one had left this world and you want to keep his or her presence continuously felt in your WhatsApp groups, make sure somebody who has access to the person's phone is using WhatsApp at least once every 3-4 months.

To sum up, as of today, October 2021 -

  1. Your WhatsApp account will automatically be deleted after 120 days of inactivity.

  2. Your WhatsApp account will automatically be considered as "inactive" after 45 days of inactivity.

  3. After 45 days of inactivity, if you install WhatsApp to a new phone using the same phone number, your WhatsApp account will automatically be deleted and a new one created.

  4. ALWAYS back up your WhatsApp data to cloud - Google Drive (for Android users) and iCloud (for iPhone users), at least once a month.

  5. But keep in mind, your Google Drive WhatsApp backup will automatically be deleted after 1 year of inactivity.

  6. Your Google Drive WhatsApp backup will also automatically be deleted if your WhatsApp account is deleted.

Also, there is a difference between automatic "group leave" and manual "group leave". We all know that if you manually leave a WhatsApp group, the admin cannot add you again to the same group immediately, so as to prevent harassment etc [source]. The only way to join a group you've just left is through a "join invitation" link (or wait for some time).

However, if you leave a group because of automatic WhatsApp deletion like in my case above, then the admin can add you back immediately.

This surprised many of my friends in the groups too, as they wondered how I could be added to the group again right after I had just left the same group. The reason is simple - My WhatsApp account was automatically deleted and a new one created immediately when the above process took place, and so technically, the admin was adding a new account and not my old one.

So those are the important points to remember the next time you use WhatsApp again. I'll end this post for now and in my next post, I will write about my hilarious and unsuccessful attempt to retrieve my WhatsApp local backup from my old phone. :D

Until then, everyone, take care.