We can back up nearly anything to the cloud, but text messages usually go bye bye when you switch handsets or factory reset a phone. We want to make sure that everyone is looking after their data. Specifically, we want to make sure you are backing up your SMS messages. I know at least our Canadian readers prefer the term ‘text messages’ here, which is possibly more accurate, but I’m going to stick with SMS for the sake of continuity.
Join us as we explore an app called SMS Backup+, and another app you’ve already heard of, Tasker.
Before we begin
Many SMS and messaging apps and services have the ability built right in to backup or otherwise prevent loss of your messages should you lose your phone, but that is not always the case. When in doubt, or if you are using a messaging tool that does not have backup capabilities, we will point you towards SMS Backup+, a free app in the Google Play Store, that syncs your messages to your Gmail account for safe storage.
As a completely optional addition to the project today, we will use Tasker to fine tune the controls a little. If you do not yet have Tasker installed, prepare to drop $2.99 in the Google Play Store to follow along.
Use SMS Backup+ to keep your messages safe
There is a good chance you’ve got an SMS message or two on your Android device, and there is a good chance you’d rather not lose them if you happen to misplace your phone. If for no other reason, perhaps you should look at backing up your SMS messages on a regular basis.
Straight out of the box, SMS Backup+ is super easy to use. It looks to backup not just your SMS messages, but also your MMS ones, as well as the call log. The idea is to dump these items into your Gmail account with a custom Gmail Label to keep them around forever.
Now, if you are a Google Hangouts user, have a look for the ‘SMS’ Label in your Gmail. If you see the Label, and it is packed full of your messages, today’s tasks are not really for you, your messages are secure and you may go on with getting ready for your weekend.
The general setup of SMS Backup+ is pretty near all of the input this app requires to keep your messages rolling to Gmail. Install the app, fire it up and let’s walk through it from there.
- Connect to your preferred Gmail account. Not to worry, this app uses OAuth, like all good apps should, so you can block access at any time from within your Google account settings on the web.
- Tap the “Connect” check box.
- Choose your Google account.
- Decide whether or not to begin a full backup of all current messages on your device, or skip to only back up messages received from that point forward.
If all you desire to do is back up everything to a Label called SMS in your Gmail, turn auto backup check box on and enjoy your day. However, if you’d like to tune things a little, please continue along.
Picking which messages to back up
- Head to the “Advanced Settings”.
- Select “Backup settings”.
- Choose which types of messages you would like to back up to Gmail. I usually do not back up MMS messages, but that’s just a personal preference.
- You can also tap on the SMS section to change the name of the label created in your Gmail account. You don’t have to do this, but keep in mind Google Hangouts also labels its messages as SMS. Try to avoid confusion; I use “SMS+” for mine.
- Tap the back button to save and head out.
Auto backup settings
- Tap on “Auto backup settings”.
- Select the “Regular schedule” option to set an upload frequency. The default is 2 hours, but I like to save juice and risk the loss – 24 hours will be enough.
- Select “Incoming schedule” to set a time in which SMS Backup+ will be triggered, after a new message arrives. It defaults to 3 minutes, which is where I leave it.
- Hit the back button to exit to the main screen.
- Tap on the “Auto backup” check box to make sure this feature is turned on.
If the scheduled backup frequency is not to your liking, or you do not want auto backups at all, there is a big Backup button at the top of the screen just waiting to be pushed. If you do like the the automatic backups, but the Regular schedule times do not work for you, it is time to use our favorite customization app, Tasker.
Backup SMS using Tasker
To use Tasker to trigger SMS backup, we will use SMS Backup+ as a Third Party extension to Tasker.
- Head into SMS Backup+ to enable the integration.
- Tap into “Auto backup settings”.
- Exit SMS Backup+ and head into Tasker.
- Create a new Tasker Task and name it appropriately.
- Tap the “+” button to add an action.
- Choose “3rd party”.
- Choose “SMS backup+”.
- That is really all there is to the task, hit the back button to save and exit the task creation.
- Now, you need to decide how and when Tasker should run the backup. For our purposes, let’s setup a profile that runs the backup every Sunday.
- Head to the “Profiles” tab of Tasker, create a new profile and name it appropriately.
- Choose “Day”.
- Tap on the “Month Day” drop-down menu and change it to “Week Day”.
- Choose “Sunday”.
- Hit the back button to save.
- Choose your backup task.
- That’s it, you are done.
While I am sure you have far different ideas than mine when it comes to backup frequency, I hope that you see all of the available ways and times that you can use SMS Backup+ to fire your data over to Gmail.
We used a day value in our Tasker project, be sure to think outside the box for your needs. Perhaps backup your SMS messages when you connect to your home WiFi network. Maybe put a 10 minute delay after receiving a message – that’s too easy, I know, create a few Tasker profiles and tasks that add 1 to a variable every time you receive a message, then fire the backup when you get to 10 messages. Don’t forget to then reset the variable back to 0.
Finally, SMS Backup+ sends your messages to Gmail, what are you to do if you do not want to use Gmail? You know it, there are well over a million apps in the Google Play Store, I am sure a few of them can help. Might I suggest SMS Backup & Restore, also free in the Google Play Store, which saves your messages as a text file (XML, to be more accurate,) on your device. Just make sure to pull the files from the device for secure backup.
This is our favorite way to back up your messaging history and call logs. It is simple, thanks to the SMS backup+ application, but also very customizable and versatile thanks to Tasker.
Do you care to keep record of your SMS, MMS and call log history? What other tools do you use to manage things?