How do I recover deleted text messages on Android?
Sure, there are many sites that claim to offer recovery services, but you'd need to be running a rooted device. As noted by AC's Jerry Hildebrand, Android has used TRIM on the internal storage since 2012, so deleted data is constantly being overwritten. Chances are, unless you acted immediately after deleting the messages, they will be gone forever, in short order.
But if you want to make sure you never lose texts again — whether by mistake or when switching over to a different device — here's how to do it, using an app appropriately called SMS Backup & Restore by Carbonite.
How to backup your SMS messages
The first thing you'll need to do is download the free SMS Backup & Restore app from the Google Play Store.
- Launch the Google Play Store from your home screen or app drawer.
- Tap the search bar and search for SMS Backup and Restore.
Tap SMS Backup & Restore by Carbonite, which should be the top result.
- Tap Install.
- Tap Accept.
Tap Open once the app has been installed.
- Tap Backup once the app has opened.
- Tap OK if you're fine with using a default folder on your device, or tap Custom Folder if you want to store your backups on a MicroSD card or in a specific folder on your phone.
Tap the checkbox next to the things you want backed up, especially the text messages (it's why you're here, right?).
- Tap the checkbox next to Call Logs if you want them backed up.
- Tap the file name next to Text Messages if you want to re-title it yourself.
Tap the checkboxes next to Include MMS Messages and/or Include Emojis/Special characters if you want those included in the backups.
- Optionally, tap Selected Conversations Only if you only want specific text conversations backed up. A window will pop up that lets you select the specific convos you want backed up.
- Tap your choice between Local Backup only or Local Backup and Upload, which reveals options to upload to Google Drive, Dropbox, or to Email. To upload your backup, you'll need to install an Add-on for SMS Backup & Restore.
If you decide to only back up your messages locally, you'll get a message warning that you risk losing your backups if you lose or damage your device. You'll also be warned that if you set backups to be stored in the default internal storage, you'll want to transfer them to an external storage device whenever you decide to switch phones.
Your text message conversations will now automatically be backed up to wherever you chose to back them up!
How to restore your SMS messages
Once you've got your SMS messages backed up (again, if you just found this article and didn't have your messages backed up somehow, you're essentially out of luck), you can restore them on a new device or on the same one.
- Launch SMS Backup & Restore from your home screen or app drawer.
- Tap Restore.
Tap the checkboxes next to the backups you want to restore. Depending on what you chose to back up, you may have both call logs and SMS messages.
- Tap the arrow next to the SMS messages backups if you have multiple backups stored and want to restore a specific one.
- Tap Restore.
Tap OK. This info box informs you that to restore your messages you'll need to temporarily set SMS Backup and Restore as your default messaging app.
- Tap Yes. Your messages and/or call logs will start restoring.
Tap Close once the restore is completed.
And there you have it! Your messages (and maybe even your call logs) have been restored! If you've decided to back up your data to a cloud service, you should also be able to restore your old messages onto a new phone by following the same steps. Since the data is stored in an XML file, it's compatible with any Android device, no matter the make or model.