OnePlus smart SMS
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

You never get used to that gut-wrenching moment when an essential 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!

More: The 10 best SMS and texting apps for Android

A little about how deletion and storage works

MicroSD card slot stock photo 1
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

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 exactly what happens with Android phones as well. Everything we delete, including SMS messages, sticks around until enough time passes by and/or space is needed to store other data.

You may still be wondering how this is even possible. It’s actually not a very complicated concept once we understand how deletion works. In most cases, trashing a file (in this case, an SMS or MMS message) doesn’t really 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 really need to recover that text message, because it may get permanently wiped out after some time.

Carriers often have all your texts stored

Sprint Verizon T Mobile and Verizon carriers stock photo text messages
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

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 of time. 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. This won’t help most of us, though, so let’s move on to what you can do to actually 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 so you can 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.

Use data recovery software

Typing Writing Coding Keyboard

So it’s all lost and you really, really want to recover your messages. It may be possible to obtain it using data recovery software, which can 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 definitely come with the software. The app will present you with everything you can recover after a scan.

Download data recovery software:

Making sure this doesn’t happen again

Google Pixel 5 using in hand 3 1
David Imel / Android Authority

You just realized this whole recovering deleted text messages isn’t exactly an easy feat. And it shouldn’t really 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, as well as other content. Let’s take a look at some of them.

More: How to backup your Android phone

Google Drive

Google Drive logo on smartphone stock photo 1 - backup text messages
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Google Drive is a great cloud service, and it can do more than store your documents and random files. You can actually 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:

  1. Go into your Android phone’s Settings app.
  2. Select Google.
  3. Tap on Backup
  4. Toggle Backup to Google Drive on.
  5. Hit Backup now.

Third-party apps

Google Play Store on smartphone stock photo 1 - Download text messages backup apps
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

There are plenty of third-party apps that will help you backup your SMS messages. You can find multiple of them in our dedicated post.

Here: These are the 10 best Android backup apps