How to fix «Download failed» error on WhatsApp

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Pavel Yosifovich
@pavelyosifovich
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Sometimes we want download an image, video or audio on WhatsApp and when you click the icon it stays loading then shows the "Download failed" error. Now we will try to pinpoint the possible cause and solve this annoying error.

We recently explained the possible solutions if we fail to install WhatsApp and the file download failed problem is also one of the most common. Especially since the text does not explain the reason for the error and we have to identify it ourselves.



The full text of the error says the following:

«Download failed. Unable to complete download. Try later."

That is, a general warning that does not indicate the cause of the failed download. Then the solution will go through the review of the most common problems, which are quite varied, until you find the error. We will see from the most common to the rare.

Check your internet connection

The "Download Failed" error is common when the mobile does not have an internet connection, neither via Wi-Fi nor mobile data. Surprisingly, WhatsApp doesn't detect it and a generic message appears which could be due to any other reason.

Initially, a rotating circle indicating that you are trying to download the image, video or audio:

We have to check whether the rest of the applications or the web browser can access the Internet. If not, we are talking about a connectivity issue. The solution is almost always to contact our mobile operator if we use data, as the tariff may have been used up, there may have been a cut in the line or a drop.



If we use WiFi, the origin is usually similar, only in this case the operator of the associated fiber or ADSL line is responsible.

Check that the mobile has free space

WhatsApp also usually indicates that a download failed when the phone memory is full and there is no free space. Although current smartphones have a lot of storage space, at any moment we could saturate it.

The solution is to check if the terminal memory is too full and if so, delete photos, videos and other files. Of course, before we can upload them to a free cloud storage service if we don't want to lose them.

In Android you can see the space and delete files from this menu:

Settings -> Storage -> Free up space

Su iPhone the path to follow is the following:

Settings -> General – iPhone Storage

Also, WhatsApp now allows you to free up space with its own tool, which is also a good solution if the "Download failed" error is due to lack of free space.

Possible WhatsApp crash

One possibility to consider is that WhatsApp suffers a general crash, which doesn't work for anyone. In this case, it is very likely that we will not even be able to send or receive messages and other features will not work as well.

Now, sometimes technical incidents affect only some features of WhatsApp and there are precedents for huge problems with multimedia content (photos, videos and audio).


The solution, in this case, is wait for the application servers to respond again, we can also go deeper into the problem with the guide to find out if WhatsApp is down or if we are the only ones affected.


Date and time correct?

WhatsApp can suffer unexpected behavior if the mobile has an incorrect date and time, as the servers expect it to be correctly synchronized with the current time.

And one of the possible consequences is that we get the «Download failed» error, although not the only one. The solution is set the terminal to the correct time or better yet, have it sync automatically from the internet.

If you're having trouble, we've covered how to fix the "The date on your phone is incorrect" error that sometimes appears on WhatsApp and can even stop you from using it altogether.

update whatsapp

WhatsApp gains new features over time through application updates, so there comes a time when users of older versions lose functions or they can't use them at all.

The "Download failed" alert could be due to this, although most users have automatic updates turned on in the Google Play Store (Android) or App Store (iPhone).

If not, we have explained how to update WhatsApp, even on phones without access to official stores, including some Huawei and Honor models.

Is the cell phone very old?

At some point, on some very old phones, whatsapp stops working. Although the normal thing is for it to do it completely, there may be cases where some unsupported models lose only some functions, and therefore the download failed message.


We have already indicated the mobiles on which WhatsApp will stop working in 2021, which depends on the operating system. They are smartphones that are quite a few years old, in particular the following ones:

  1. Android older than version 4.0.3.
  2. iPhones with iOS lower than iOS 9.
  3. KaiOS prior to version 2.5.1.

In this case the solution is simple, but expensive: we will have to buy a new cell phone, there are no other alternatives to continue using WhatsApp. In this list we select some good and cheap mobile phones of 2020 that can serve to inspire us.


Clear your cache and/or reinstall

Sometimes it's good to clear the app cache, as it can fix some strange behavior. It is not a safe solution to the «Download Failed» warning, but it is one of the perfect possibility if we have already tried everything.

In our tutorials on how to clear cache on Android and clear cache on iPhone we explain the process step by step, which is generally simple.

Also, having cleared the cache would be helpful uninstall and reinstall WhatsApp, to start with a clean app. It is a generic solution when others fail, which on many occasions manages to fix the errors.

Extreme solutions: Third-party mod or format

If we have tried all the above tricks without success, we might be willing to take it drastic measures to fix the "Download failed" error. After all, WhatsApp is essential today and any alternative would be better than buying a new mobile just because of this bug.

An idea would be to install one of the WhatsApp mods, unofficial versions from external developers which expand the possibilities of the app with various modifications. For example, YOWhatsApp or OGWhatsApp are quite popular mods.

It's not a sure thing, but maybe it is mods will fix the error with the download, as they apply several changes from the original system. Of course, there is a certain risk that our account will be blocked if we use unofficial clients, which is currently considered very low.

Finally, we should reset our Android smartphone to the factory settings, for restore the mobile to its original configuration. We need to make a backup copy of your personal data first, as it will be lost in the process.

Bottom line, it is difficult to identify the cause of the «Download failed» error in WhatsApp, but usually has a solution, and in practically all cases it is easy to apply.


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