If you erased all your text messages by accident or clearing out your inbox for some space and want your SMS messages back, you might not be able to do that on Android if you didn’t back them up first. At the same time, if you’ve just switched to a new device, you may want to bring your text messages to the new Android.
Backing up is the only viable way to retrieve your SMS messages from an Android device. We show you in this tutorial how to back up your text messages on your Android using various methods, so that when you eventually need them, you can safely restore them without issue.
1. Google Drive (Or Any Other Built-in System)
Android has a built-in backup system that automatically creates backups of your system and saves them to Google Drive (in the cloud). Similarly, some device manufacturers, such as Samsung, offer their own backup alternatives.
Google’s backup functionality is usually enabled by default on the majority of Android devices, but you can make sure you have a backup by following these steps:
- Open the “Settings” app on your Android device.
- Swipe down and tap on “Google.”
- Select ”Backup” from the list that appears.
- Make sure the “Backup by Google One” option is toggled on. Google One is Google’s subscription service that lets you automatically back up your phone and manage your Google cloud storage (You get 15GB of free storage once you sign up with a Google account).
Note: Backups count against your Google One storage quota. If you wish to learn more, check out our article on how to keep your Google storage space in check.
- If you wish to create a backup at that moment, press the “Back up now” button underneath. If you do this, your system will back up most of your data, and most importantly, it will make copies of your SMS and MMS text messages as well as additional information on your Android.
You will see your backups in Google Drive’s main menu and access the backup settings directly within Google Drive’s settings. In the Google Drive app, tap on the hamburger menu in the upper-right corner and select “Backups” to view information about your SMS backup.
If you own a Samsung device, you can create your backups using the built-in option.
- Open the Settings app on your device.
- Hit “Accounts and backup.”
- You can choose to back up your data with Samsung Cloud or Google Drive.
- If you’ve opted for Samsung Cloud, it’s possible to select whether you want only your text messages to get backed up.
- After you’ve made your choice, press “Back up now” at the bottom.
How to Restore Your SMS Messages with Google
Restoring your SMS messages is pretty easy if you have a Google backup. Keep in mind that if you’re trying to restore text messages to the same device, you’ll need to perform a factory reset first, which will wiping your device clean.
- On a new device, log in with the same Google account you were using when you created the backup.
- Select the option to restore your data from “A backup from the cloud.”
- Tap on “Copy your data” to continue.
- You’ll see a list of things that are available to restore, including SMS. Tick that option.
- The phone should now begin the process of loading the backup onto the empty device.
- Once it finishes, you’ll find your lost text messages in your messaging app.
2. SMS Backup Third-Party App
You can also back up your text messages in Android by using a third-party app like “SMS Backup & Restore,” which lets you save and restore your texts to your device whenever you want.
- Download SMS Backup & Restore from the Google Play Store.
- Once installed, open it and tap “Get Started.”
- Give the required permissions by tapping “Allow” on each of them.
- Tap “Set Up a Backup.”
- Choose what you want to back up from your Android – in this case, specifically text messages – then tap “Next.”
- Select a cloud storage service for storing your SMS and data. Here you have the options of Dropbox, OneDrive, and your phone, on top of Google Drive. Make your selection and hit “Next.”
- Now it’s time to “Log In” to connect the cloud storage service you chose as your backup storage to the app.
- Choose additional settings, like duration before automatic deletion of old messages and others, and tap “Save” when you’re done.
- Choose the backup interval option of daily, weekly or hourly. You can also set the exact backup time under advanced options or set scheduled backups with notifications to alert you when the backup is complete. Tap “Back Up Now”.
- The backup process will start. Wait a few seconds for it to complete. You should see a message on the screen alerting you that’s it’s completed.
Your backup will be saved to the cloud service you previously chose.
How to Restore Your SMS Messages on Another Phone
If you want to restore your SMS messages on a new device or on the same device (without the need to wipe it out), use the “SMS Backup & Restore” app and follow these steps.
- Open the SMS Backup & Restore app.
- Tap on “Restore” instead of “Set Up a Backup.”
- A pop-up will ask you whether you have backups of the deleted messages. Press “Yes.”
- Select the backup location you’d like to restore from (local backup location, Google Drive location, Dropbox location, or OneDrive location).
- Give the necessary permissions so that the app can access that particular cloud service.
- Allow the app to scan for available backups. It should be able to find the one you previously made.
- When it finally does, press the “Restore” button at the bottom.
- You’ll get a notification that you need to set the “SMS Backup and Restore” app as the default messaging app temporarily to restore your SMS messages. Tap “OK” to proceed.
- Confirm your choice by tapping “Yes.”
- The process of restoring your messages will begin.
You will need to switch to your original SMS app to be able to see the recovered text messages. You can do that by going to “Settings -> Apps & notifications -> Default apps -> SMS app.” You can change the default app from there.
3. Install an Alternate SMS App
Android phones usually come with a certain default SMS app. Often this is Google Messages, but that’s not always the case. There are many third-party SMS app alternatives, and some even offer a handy SMS backup function, such as Microsoft’s SMS Organizer app. Follow these directions to back up your text messages on your Android:
- Download and install SMS Organizer to your device.
- Open it and wait while the app organizes your SMS messages.
- Once it’s done, tap “Get Started” to access the app’s interface.
- Tap on the three dots in the upper-right corner.
- Select “Settings.”
- From there, go to “Backup & restore.”
- Tap on “Select Account” to link your Google Drive account to the app.
- Once you do so, the “Backup” button at the top will become active.
- Use it to create your backup in Google Drive.
- If you want the app to create an “Auto backup,” make sure you specify how often you want it do do so..
How to Restore Your SMS Messages with SMS Organizer
- Once you’ve created the backup, the “Restore” button will also become functional for you to come back at any time and restore the backup you created on a particular date. Tap the button.
- Select the backup you want to restore and press “Restore” once more.
This method uses Google Drive to back up your text messages on your Android, as opposed to the default Android backup option. With this method, you don’t have to wipe out your device before restoring the backup.
Other alternate SMS apps that have a backup option include Pulse SMS; however, this feature is not available to users with a free account and needs a subscription.
4. Forward SMS to Your PC or Other Device
Another way of backing up your SMS is to forward them to another device for safe keeping. There are a few options to consider with this method. For one, you can manually save select messages that are important to you or automatically forward all the SMS messages you receive to another device for safe keeping.
Manually Save Your Text Messages
The first option requires you to save important SMS to another device like your PC. You can do so manually right from your phone’s SMS app. Simply long tap on the message to share it to various apps, including WhatsApp, Facebook, Gmail, or any other apps you can also access on your PC. From there, you can save them in a document or note-taking app for safe keeping.
Alternatively, if you have a Windows 10/11 computer at your disposal, you can take advantage of Microsoft’s Phone Link functionality to connect your PC to your Android phone. Once you do that, you can seamlessly view your SMS from your computer and easily copy the most important ones into a document. Samsung Kies is a similar service for those who own a Samsung Galaxy device.
Automatically Forward SMS to Mail or Other Devices
While saving the occasional SMS on your own is a good idea if you only need to save important text messages, it won’t do you much good if you know you’ll require access to the vast majority of them. Just know that you can automatically forward them to your Gmail or other devices so that you’ll have a copy of each SMS message you receive.
If you just need to have a copy of all your SMS messages, you can use one of the methods highlighted in the article to set up an automatic forwarding system to your email or other devices.
5. Check Your Carrier App (If You Have One)
Carrier apps could also be a solution for those who wish to back up their SMS messages. For instance, Verizon’s Messages+ app includes this functionality and backs them up to the Verizon cloud. AT&T’s “Messages Backup & Sync” offers similar services. Check your phone to see if your carrier-specific messaging app offers this option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where are my SMS stored on my Android device?
Your SMS are stored in a SQLite database that you can only find if you have a rooted phone. If you do and it’s running Android 7.0 or above, check this route to find the file: “/data/user_de/0/com.android.providers.telephony/databases/mmssms.db”. You’ll need a SQLite viewer to view it, though.
What data does Google back up automatically?
The default Android backup includes apps, photos and videos, SMS & MMS messages, call history, device settings, and Google account data (synced with Calendar, Contacts, Docs and other apps).
I tried restoring my data using Android's default system, but it won't work. What went wrong?
Be aware that Google won’t allow you to restore data from a backup from a higher Android version to a phone running a lower Android version. Make sure you’re restoring your data to a phone that runs at least the same version of Android as the phone with the backup.
Image credit: Freepik All screenshots by Alexandra Arici
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