SMS Backups: How to Save Text Messages

Back up text messages on iOS and Android for easy retrieval

If you often use SMS text messaging, you should know how to save text messages on your phone so that you can easily retrieve them later. It's also a good idea to back up your text messages before a major upgrade. There's a variety of ways to perform an SMS backup depending on the type of phone you have, whether it's an Android device or iPhone.

Instructions in this article apply to iOS and Android smartphones.

How to Back Up Text Messages on Android

There's an easy way to back up text messages on your Android phone using a free mobile app called SMS Backup & Restore. You can save messages on the device itself, your computer, your email, or an online storage service with these steps:

  1. Download SMS Backup and Restore from the Google Play Store and launch the app. From the main menu, tap Set Up a Backup to begin.

    You must have Android 4.0.3 or higher to use this app.

  2. Choose the types of records you want to back up. Tap Advanced Options to back up select conversations and choose whether to include emojis or MMS messages (such as photos and videos). When finished, select Next.

    How to back up text messages on Android with SMS Backup & Restore
  3. Choose where you want to save the backup (your phone, Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive), then tap Configure under each selected option and select Log In to connect your phone to your online accounts. You can also choose how long you want messages to be saved from the configuration screen. Once finished, return to the previous screen and tap Next.

  4. Choose how frequently you want to schedule backups, then select Back Up Now.

    How to back up text messages on Android with SMS Backup & Restore

It's also possible to store SMS backups onto an SD card or transfer new or existing SMS backups directly to another Android phone using the Wi-Fi Direct feature.

SMS Backup & Restore isn't your only option. There are other popular apps you can use to back up your text messages, including FonePaw Android Data Recovery, MobiKin Doctor for Android, and Dr. Fone for Android.

How to Back Up Text Messages on iPhone

iPhone users have access to iCloud, which you can use to back up text messages as well as other data on your phone. Here's how to enable text message backups in iCloud:

  1. Go to Settings on the iPhone.

  2. Tap the arrow next to your name.

  3. Tap iCloud.

  4. Turn on Messages by moving the slider to the on (green) position.

    iPhone's settings with the Apple ID, iCloud, and Messages switch highlighted

You're done! Now your SMS messages will begin backing up to iCloud.

Once you delete a message from a device using iCloud, it will be removed from any other devices using Messages in iCloud.

How to Back Up Text Messages to iTunes

Apple removed iTunes in macOS Catalina (10.15), but if you are still running iTunes on an earlier version of the operating system, you can back up your iPhone SMS messages to your Mac via iTunes:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer using the cable that came with the phone. iTunes should automatically open on your Mac. If it doesn't, open it manually.

  2. Unlock your iPhone when it prompts you to do so.

  3. You should see the iPhone Summary screen appear. If iTunes opens instead to the iTunes Store screen, look for the tiny iPhone icon just below and to the right of the Play button. Select it to open the iPhone Summary screen.

    iTunes on Mac with the iPhone icon highlighted
  4. If you previously enabled automatic backups, your iPhone automatically begins syncing to the computer or iCloud through iTunes, depending on your chosen option in the Backups section of the iPhone Summary screen.

    If you haven't enabled automatic backups in iTunes and you would like to turn it on, select iCloud or This Computer under Automatically Back Up in the Backups section. Then, check the box next to Automatically sync when this iPhone is connected in the Options section of the Summary screen.

    iTunes' device screen with the
  5. If iTunes isn't configured to automatically back up when the iPhone is connected, select Back Up Now. iTunes will completely back up the data on your phone, including your text messages. This process takes a few minutes.

    iTunes with the Back Up Now button highlighted

You can also go to File > Devices > Back Up to initiate a one-time manual backup.

The iTunes method for SMS backup is fine if you want a complete backup of the data on your phone, including your text messages. The only drawback is that it doesn't allow you to pick and choose individual items to restore to your iPhone.

Back Up Text Messages on iOS Using a Third-Party App

If you want more control over the way you back up text messages than what's possible with iCloud or iTunes, try a third-party app. Some third-party apps for text message backup that receive positive reviews include PhoneRescue, Dr. Fone, and Enigma Recovery. Prices vary, so you may want to shop around. Here's how to back up text messages using Dr. Fone:

  1. Download Dr. Fone for iPhone and install it on your computer (both Windows and Mac versions are available).

  2. Open Dr. Fone on your computer and select the Recover panel at the far left of the screen that opens.

    If your iPhone isn't already connected to your computer, you'll receive a prompt to connect it using a USB cable. You may also need to unlock it.

  3. In the left panel, you can choose Recover from iOS Device, Recover from iTunes backup file, or Recover from iCloud backup file. To back up messages stored on your phone, select Recover from iOS Device.

    Dr. Fone with the Recover from iOS Device option highlighted
  4. Make sure the box beside Deleted Data from the Device is checked at the top of the window, then uncheck the box next to Existing Data on the Device at the bottom.

    Dr. Fone with the
  5. You still have several options available to you in the top section for recovering deleted data from the device. To recover deleted text messages, make sure the box marked Messages and Attachments is checked. Check or uncheck the other boxes, depending on whether you want to recover those types of data as well.

    Dr. Fone with the Messages & Attachments option highlighted
  6. Select Start Scan in the bottom-right corner of the window. Eventually, a new window will appear showing the deleted text messages as they come in. Dr. Fone may continue to recover the messages for a few minutes after this point; the app will display a timer in the top-right corner of the window.

    Dr. Fone with the Start Scan button highlighted
  7. When Dr. Fone is done, select the text messages you want to recover, and then choose Export to Mac (or a similar notification for your Windows computer) in the bottom-right corner of the screen.

You can continue to use Dr. Fone now that you've discovered whether it was able to retrieve your text messages. A one-year license costs $69.95, while a lifetime license costs $79.95. A 7-day money-back guarantee is available.