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How to recover deleted text messages on your Android phone
You never get used to that gut-wrenching moment when a vital SMS message has been deleted. What do you do now? Desperate users will go through anything to save those crucial messages. Recovering deleted messages is no easy feat, but jumping some hoops will definitely get you somewhere. There are chances you can get those precious text messages back, and we can help you get to them!
1. A little about how deletion and storage works
Did you ever hear people say that files don’t necessarily disappear from your computer when you delete them? This is true. All those files are hidden somewhere on the hard drive, waiting to be retrieved… or replaced. This is precisely what happens with Android phones as well. Everything we delete, including SMS messages, sticks around until enough time passes or space is needed to store other data.
You may still be wondering how this is even possible. It’s not a highly complex concept once we understand how deletion works. In most cases, trashing a file (in this case, an SMS or MMS message) doesn’t erase it from the system; or at least it doesn’t do it right away.
Your device will mark this file as inactive. In other words, it is made invisible and replaceable. As you continue using your device and adding new files, these start replacing “deleted” content. In other words, you should stop using your phone if you need to recover that text message, because it may get permanently wiped out after some time.
2. Carriers often have all your texts stored
This is not necessarily a solution, but it is still information that may be helpful in some cases. As it turns out, many wireless providers store your text messaging records and other data for extended periods. The only problem is they will likely not release that information to you simply because you accidentally deleted something.
However, some carriers may cooperate with the police if necessary. These companies have helped users facing legal complications, as these messages could serve as evidence in a court of law. You, or the court, could probably request deleted messages if they’re essential. This won’t help most of us, though, so let’s move on to what you can do to obtain results.
Some carriers offer their own messaging apps, and they can be backed up to the cloud. Verizon Messages, for example, can backup your messages, and it even syncs them across devices. They even offer a web app and desktop software to enjoy your texts from anywhere. There’s also AT&T Messages Backup & Sync. If you ever delete an SMS and use one of these services, checking your backups and messaging apps on other devices might be worth a shot.
3. Use data recovery software
So it’s all lost, and you want to recover your messages. It may be possible to obtain them using data recovery software to scan your phone for deleted content and retrieve whatever may still exist.
Doing a simple Google search will show you plenty of data recovery tools for Android devices. Some are free, some are not, but many paid ones still offer a free trial period. Some of the most popular ones are Android Data Recovery, Dr. Fone, Tenorshare UltData, and FonePaw.
After you have the software, the process is pretty straightforward. Just install the program on your PC and run it. You might need to plug the device into the computer, or some programs take advantage of an app. Full instructions will come with the software. The app will present you with everything you can recover after a scan.
4. Make sure this doesn’t happen again
You just realized this whole recovering deleted text messages isn’t exactly straightforward. And it shouldn’t be… you just got rid of the darn thing! You’re lucky computing devices work a certain way. Regardless, the best way to solve something is to prevent it. Many apps can help you backup your text messages and other content. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Google Drive is an excellent cloud service, and it can do more than store your documents and random files. You can back up your text messages to it. It’s part of the stock Android backup service, so we can all enjoy this.
How to backup your text messages to Google Drive:
- Go into your Android phone’s Settings app.
- Select Google.
- Tap on Backup
- Toggle Backup by Google One on.
- Hit Backup now.
Note: These instructions were put together using a Pixel 4a with 5G running Android 12. Keep in mind steps might differ depending on the device and software you’re using.
There are plenty of third-party apps to help you backup your SMS messages. You can find multiple of them in our dedicated post.
If you’re trying to keep more of your apps, photos, music, and other files backed up, look at our guide on backing up your Android phone.