If you accidentally deleted an important text message from your Android phone, you’re probably wondering how you can get it back. In all honesty, your chances of recovering it are not stellar, especially if you deleted the text a long time ago. Yet, there is some hope on the horizon for those who constantly back up their data. This tutorial shows you how to recover deleted text messages on Android.
What Does It Mean to Delete Text Messages from Your Android Phone?
Unlike on Windows and Mac, there’s no trash can or recycle bin on Android devices. You won’t find an undo button to easily bring back the files you’ve accidentally removed from your device either. So once you delete the files, they’re gone. But are they really?
In reality, all the files you’ve deleted from your phone don’t always instantly disappear from your device. In most cases, getting rid of files, including SMS messages, doesn’t erase them from the system. Instead, they are marked as inactive and replaceable, then hidden from view. As you start adding new files on your phone, they will start replacing the content you’ve previously “deleted,” so you need to pause your phone use once you realize that you need to recover some texts.
The following is a foolproof method of recovering lost SMS messages from your Android device and a few additional suggestions you may want to experiment with if you find yourself in such a situation.
Use Google Drive Backup to Restore Texts on Android
In this method, you need to quickly pause your phone use, wipe it out and restore a previous backup, just as you would do on a new phone. Android comes with a stock backup service courtesy of Google. If you’ve previously enabled it, and it made a full backup of your phone in the time between when you received the message and when you deleted it, you may be able to retrieve the texts by restoring the Google Drive-based backup.
1. Preserve Your Data
If you just deleted the files, quickly put your phone in airplane mode to eliminate the chance for new information downloading to your phone. Doing so will immediately shut off the Wi-Fi and the cellular data.
- To access “Airplane mode,” access the “Quick Settings” menu by swiping down from the top of the display of your Android phone.
- Tap on the “Airplane mode” toggle from the options that appear.
- Alternatively, you can go through the Settings app.
- Tap on “Network & Internet” or “Wi-Fi & Network.”
- Toggle on the “Airplane mode” option from there.
Also make sure to abstain from using the camera, recording any audio, or accessing any apps that may generate new data on your device.
If the messages you’re trying to recover include some other data, such as photos or appointment times, it might be a good time to check the apps that store that type of data. For instance, a photo might have been saved to your phone’s default gallery and the appointment saved to the calendar app. Check those apps before moving to the next step. There’s always a chance you may not need to wipe your device.
2. Factory Reset Your Phone
The next step will wipe out all the data accumulated on your phone. If you think you’ve added additional files on your phone that might not be included in the backup, make a point to save them to your PC before doing this. Check out how to easily transfer files between your Android and Windows PC in our previous post.
Once you’re done securing your files, follow these steps to perform a factory reset:
- Open the Settings app on your phone.
- Go to “System.”
- Select “Reset options.”
- Tap on “Erase all data (factory reset).”
- Follow the instructions that appear on-screen to finish the process.
3. Use the Backup to Bring Back Your Texts
- Start setting up your phone again.
- Sign in with the same Google account that matches the backup.
- When asked, choose the option to restore your data from “a backup from the cloud,”
- Tap on “Copy your data” to continue.
- You’ll receive a list of stuff you can restore, including apps, call history, texts and more. Don’t forget to tick the SMS option.
- The phone should now begin the process of loading the contents from your backup. Once it finishes, you should be able to find your lost SMS in your messaging app.
Note: backups count against your Google Storage quota. If you’re running out of space, you will have to take action and free up some space to ensure that future backups will continue to be saved fully in Google Drive.
Preventative: Enable the Automatic Backup Feature
If you haven’t before, it’s time that you enable Android’s automatic backup feature. It will save you time, effort and potentially money in situations where you’re trying to bring back previously deleted files, such as texts messages. Doing this is extremely easy to do:
- Go to your Android’s Settings app.
- Select Google.
- Tap on “Backup.”
- Toggle the “Backup by Google One” option on.
- Alternatively, hit “Backup now,” and Google will get to work immediately.
Check Your Carrier App (If Available)
Most wireless providers store your text messaging records for extended periods of time, but don’t look for them to unlock and share this information with you to restore your deleted text messages to your Android.
What you can do instead is check your dedicated text message carrier app. For instance, Verizon has Verizon Messages, which backs up your texts. Big Red also offers a web app so that you can access your texts from anywhere.
Reach Out to the Sender/Recipient
This is perhaps the less time-consuming solution to the problem. Try reaching out to the person you were having the conversation with and see if they might still have the text. If not, they might be able to remember and share the information you were looking to retrieve. If reaching out is not possible, then perhaps one of the other methods included in this article will work for you.
Back Up and Restore Messages Using a Third-Party SMS App
While most of us tend to use the default SMS app, installing a third-party SMS app may have its perks. For instance, Pulse SMS offers the option to backup your chats. However, this is a paid option, so you won’t be able to access it without a subscription.
If that’s not a problem for you, you can set up an account with Pulse, to which all your messages will be backed up. Then you can log in to that account on any device to restore all your messages automatically. Pulse SMS comes with a free seven-day trial, after which you’ll need to pay $1.99 a month to keep using the feature.
Other Third-Party Software
Third-party software like like FonePaw, PhoneRescue and Dr. Fone will scan your device with the intent of retrieving whatever data may still exist on your phone. However, the more advanced features will cost money to access, and the results are by no means guaranteed.
The “Quick Scan”-type of free tools included in these programs can’t recover the text you’ve deleted. What they can do is display messages that are still in your inbox, which you can still easily access on your phone.
These apps also include a “Deep scan” feature, which requires the phone to be rooted in order to work properly. While the chances of success when it comes to recovering lost data in this scenario increase considerably, not everyone is willing to root their device, as the process makes your device vulnerable to risks. Moreover, rooting a device may void its warranty, so you must tread carefully.
Overall, we don’t believe the results you may get from these programs are worth compromising your device’s security. Instead, take some extra precautions by backing up your SMS and text messages so that next time you accidentally delete a text, you can quickly turn to the backup for assistance.
Frequently Asked Questions
I don't want to use Google Drive for my backups. What are some alternatives?
The option to automatically back up your data on your Android with Google Drive is super convenient, since it’s baked into the operating system. But if you don’t want to use it, you can opt for a third-party alternative, such as G Cloud Backup, which can easily do the trick for you. On the other hand, most OEMs – such as Samsung, LG, OnePlus and more – have backup apps preinstalled on their devices. Check your phone and see if you have one of these.
Where are my deleted texts stored on Android?
Deleted texts are stored in a hidden folder on your phone’s memory that you can’t access using a File Explorer app. When it comes to deleting other types of files, such as photos, the good news is that most apps have a “Recycle Bin” or Trash folder, so it’s a good idea to check those to see if you can retrieve them. For instance, your Gallery app has such a folder.
Can I get a Recycle Bin on my Android device?
There are many apps that promise the option to add a Recycle bin to your Android device so that you can easily recover deleted files, just like in Windows. However, in practice, not many work that well. On top of that, most will ask you to pay for the full service. If you’re curious, you can take an app like Dumpster for a spin, but make sure you take advantage of the free trial and don’t get your hopes up. The most likely scenario is that it won’t be able to recover anything of value.
Image credit: Freepik. All screenshots by Alexandra Arici
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