Backup Your Text Messages

Category: Backup

How many text messages are stored in your phone? Which ones are important enough to keep? What if some are deleted accidentally, or you lost your phone? You never know, so it's a good idea to backup your text messages. But how? Here are some text message backup solutions for Android and iPhone smartphones...

Text Message Backup For Android Smartphones

SMS Backup+ is a free Android app that replaces the orphaned SMS Backup app. SMS Backup+ sends your SMS and MMS messages to an IMAP-enabled email account; by default, it uses Google Mail, but it can be configured to use other IMAP email accounts. On a Gmail account, your backed up texts will be stored in a label (folder) called SMS. You can search, view, forward or delete individual messages.

SMS messages can be restored to the phone, but MMS messages cannot. (Only the text portion of MMS messages can be restored). Call logs can also be backed up to Google, and restored to the phone. The app uses the XOAuth authorization scheme, so you don't have to reveal your email password. Backups can be scheduled.
Backup Text Messages

I found this app to be just the ticket when my wife had to swap her Samsung Charge for another Android phone. I installed SMS Backup+ on her phone, and it dutifully backed up all her messages and the call log to Gmail. Then after activating the new phone, I installed the app there, and it downloaded all the saved texts and call log to the new phone. I then turned on the automatic backup feature of SMS Backup+ so that all future texts would be safely backed up. A nice side benefit is the ability to search your text messages on Gmail, just like regular email.

SMS Backup & Restore creates a backup file containing SMS messages in XML format. It does not support MMS messages. The file is stored on your phone's SD card, but it can be emailed to another location. You can view the contents of a backup file on the phone, and restore messages. This app can also delete all SMS messages on a phone. The free version includes ads, or you can buy an ad-free paid version.

Text Message Backup For iPhone (and other Apple iOS Devices)

When you backup your iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPod) using iTunes, it does include your text messages (iMessage, SMS, and MMS). However, that information is stored in a location that wasn't meant to be easy to find, and in a format that wasn't meant to be human readable.

Free iPhone SMS Backup is a web service that helps you extract your text messages from the iTunes backup. It makes backup copies of SMS and MMS messages from any iPhone, and lets you download the backup file in PDF, Excel XLS, or HTML format to a Mac or PC. Note that the Excel format does not support MMS messages.

Imtoo iPhone SMS Backup can save SMS and iMessages to a text or HTML file. You can then download the backup file to your Mac or PC. The app also allows you to search messages using the Name, Number, or Message Body fields.

Note that while both of the iOS apps above do a fine job of backing up your text messages, they do not allow you to restore them. Some people have reported in forums that they've attempted to modify the text messages file extracted from iTunes, modify it, then replace it in the backup. But problems arose on the phone after restoring the modified backup. Not recommended.

The iTunes backup/restore process will restore your text messages to your iOS device, but it doesn't do any syncing or archive your old messages so they are protected from accidental deletion. For example, you do a backup of your iPhone. During the next few days, you send and receive dozens of texts. Then something happens to your iPhone and you decide to restore from the backup. All of the newer messages that were on your iPhone would be lost, because the restore over-writes everything. Conversely, let's say you've backed up your phone, then accidentally deleted some messages. Then you do another backup, and later discover that your treasured texts are gone. They won't be in the latest backup, because iTunes has dutifully saved the latest data from your phone.

Transfer Texts From iPhone to Android

Are you switching from an iPhone to an Android phone? If so, you may want to backup your iPhone text messages and restore them to the Android phone. It's not exactly easy, but it can be done.

The iPhone Backup SMS Extractor is an online service to which you can upload a copy of the SMS messages and contacts backup file created by iTunes each time you sync your iPhone to iTunes. The site will convert the iTunes file to XML format, which can be restored to an Android phone using SMS Backup & Restore app mentioned above.

Be aware of the notice at the bottom if the site's page: "Before uploading your iphone backup files to this service please consider that this service is not free of charge and that all content of those files could be (but won't) accessed by the creator of this page." I'm not sure what this German author means by "not free of charge" but there is no price mentioned on the site. I wasn't able to test it, because I don't have an iPhone. If anyone wants to try this, please let me know how it works for you.

Do you backup your mobile phone's text messages? What tools do you use? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Backup Your Text Messages"

Posted by:

13 Jul 2012

Thanks for the information. SMS Backup+ is about to be installed on my phone.

Posted by:

13 Jul 2012

I have used Back up to Gmail for Android for quite some time and it works well.

Posted by:

14 Jul 2012

As I lost all my texts from my Samsung Galaxy last week, this article looked to be my saviour! However, you didn't state categorically that deleted texts cannot be recovered. Can they, like on a regular PC/laptop etc, be restored by an expert or are they truly lost and gone forever?


Posted by:

15 Jul 2012

Do you know of anything for a "dumb" phone? I don't have a "smart" phone. ie: Samsung Sway

EDITOR'S NOTE: It's possible the BitPim might work, but the program has not been updated for a few years.

Posted by:

Lee McIntyre
12 Sep 2012

Bob, based on your recommendation, I was going to install SMS Backup+ on my Motorola Razr, but I balked when I read the "permissions." According to the app, the program can "add or modify calendar events and send email to guests without owner's knowledge, read calendar events plus confidential information, read contact data, and write contact data."

That sounds sinister! Is this something I can safely ignore? Unless you say it is really okay, I think I'll pass.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Well, the truth is the app needs the ability to do all those things in order to perform its functions. So it does come down to trust, but I feel comfortable, given the good reputation it has.

Posted by:

12 Dec 2012

Bob, I am in the midst of switching to a new phone and I also downloaded the SMS app and it worked great. I THOUGHT I had deleted all texts that I didn't want to save but I missed a couple of people and now I have 100 texts saved from them. I tried to delete just the messages I did not want saved but it deleted the entire thread. I managed UNDO but is there a way to delete individual messages without losing them all?

Posted by:

16 Mar 2013

Thank you Bob. To transfer messages from Android to iPhone. I use a tool called Backuptrans. Works well.

Posted by:

08 Jun 2013

Great article about how to backup text messages

recover deleted text messages from iPhone

Posted by:

Jane Nato
24 Sep 2013

I have used a product called IPhone SMS To Gmail in the past, worked great for me.

Posted by:

16 Apr 2014

THank you so much for this information. I wished I had read this article three weeks ago when I switched from Galaxy S3 to the Samsung Mega. I was so bummed out that I couldn't backed up some of my messages that have been in my phone since the beginning of last year. Downloaded the app and I am as happy as can be. AGain thank you for all your articles

Posted by:

27 Oct 2014

Thanks for this article & the great tips on backing up SMS msgs from my Android phone. After looking at SMS Backup & Restore, I found another app called SMS & Call Log Backup that I prefer as it backs up both SMS & call logs in one app.

But the backup is an XML file that is difficult to read on my PC.

Do you know of any software that can be used to read XML file backups of SMS & call logs in user-friendly format on a Windows PC?

EDITOR'S NOTE: SMS Backup & Restore also does call logs, and you can see everything in plain text.

Posted by:

29 May 2020

You can backup iPhone text messages (with attachments) including SMS, MMS, iMessages, WhatsApp and Vibe using iPhone SMS backup software. You can export iPhone text messages with the software as well. The free trial version only lets you backup a limited number of iPhone text messages so you have to purchase the full version for unlimited backups. You can save iPhone text messages in a variety of formats including Word, Excel, plain text, CSV and HTML.
As one of the best SMS backup iPhone software, iPhone SMS backup aims to recover deleted text messages and files on iPhone iPad, no matter whether you have made a backup in advance. Except for recovering deleted iPhone iPad messages, iPhone SMS backup software for iOS also can work as an iCloud backup extractor to download the iCloud backup.

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