SMS Backups: How to Save Text Messages

Save text messages for easy retrieval

Man texting on an iPhone
Here's how to back up text messages on your phone.

Getty Images

If you often use SMS text messaging, you may want to learn how to back up text messages on your phone so that you can retrieve them later. These backups come in handy if you accidentally delete an important text and want to get it back, and they can prove their worth in the event of a dispute.

It's always a good idea to back up your text messages before doing a major upgrade involving your smartphone. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to perform an SMS backup depending on the type of phone you have, whether that's an Android or iPhone. Here's how to backup text messages on both devices.

Information in this article applies to smartphones running Android 4.0.3 and higher or iPhones running iOS 12, iOS 11, and iOS 10.

Back Up SMS on Android

If you're wondering just how to back up text messages on your Android phone and are concerned that it's probably trickier than you have time for, stop worrying. There's an easy way to get the job done using a free mobile app called SMS Backup & Restore. This app is versatile, enabling text backup directly to your Android device itself, to your computer, to an online storage service, or to email. Here's how to use it to back up your texts.

Hand holding Android phone
Here's how to backup text messages on your Android. Getty Images 

Back Up Android Text Messages Using SMS Backup and Restore

  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 creating the backup.

  2. Choose the types of records you want to back up, whether they are text messages, phone calls, or call logs. You can back up all messages or just selected conversations. You can even include emojis and MMS messages (multimedia messages involving photos, video, or audio).

  3. Create a name for the backup so you can easily find it later.

  4. Decide where you want to save the backup. You can save it directly to your Android device, to Google Drive, in Dropbox, on OneDrive, or in email.

    If you save your backup directly onto your Android device and something happens to the device, you lose the backup. It's a good idea to keep a separate copy stored somewhere else too.

  5. If you want to set a regular schedule for backing up your messages, do so in the app's settings.

  6. When you're ready to begin the backup, tap Back Up in the bottom of your screen.

    Icons on a cell phone
    Easily backup SMS text messages on your Android phone. Getty Images 

While this process is the simplest method for creating a backup of your text messages, you may prefer to take advantage of advanced text backup options. For example, you can use the SMS Backup & Restore app 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.

Other popular apps can back up your text messages, including FonePaw Android Data Recovery, MobiKin Doctor for Android, and Dr. Fone for Android.

Back Up SMS and Messages on iOS

If you're an iPhone user, you have some easy options at your fingertips for backing up text messages. The most obvious choice is iCloud, which you can use to back up text messages as well as other data on your phone.

If you need a more robust SMS backup, you may want to check out how to back up to iTunes on your computer.

Person writing notes on a cell phone
Here's how to back up your texts on iPhone.  Getty Images

Back Up Text Messages With iCloud Backup

  1. Tap Settings on the iPhone Home screen.

  2. Tap your name. (In iOS 10.2 or earlier, skip this step.)

  3. Tap iCloud.

    Path to iCloud Backup setting
  4. Scroll Down and tap iCloud Backup.

  5. Move the slider next to iCloud Backup to the On/green position. To initiate an immediate backup, tap Back Up Now. After that, iCloud makes a backup every day automatically.

    iPhone settings for iCloud backups

An iCloud Backup includes backups of iMessage, texts (SMS), and MMS messages, along with app data, Apple Watch backups, device settings, Home screen and app organization, photos and videos on your iPhone, your purchase history and more.

Backup Text Messages to iTunes

Another popular option for backing up SMS messages on iPhone is iTunes. Here's how to use it:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer using a USB cable. iTunes should automatically open on your computer. If it doesn't, open it manually.

  2. Click or press the small iPhone icon in the top left corner of iTunes, just under the payback controls to open the iPhone Summary screen. If you've enabled automatic syncing, your iPhone automatically begin syncing to your computer using iTunes.

    iTunes on a computer showing small iPhone icon at the top

    If automatic syncing isn't enabled yet and you want to turn it on, choose between automatically back up to iCloud or automatically back up to iTunes in the Backups section of the Summary screen.

  3. To initiate a backup, select Back Up Now on the Summary screen. Alternatively, you can go to File > Devices > Back Up from the menu bar to initiate a one-time manual backup.

    iPhone Summary in iTunes
  4. iTunes backs up the data on your phone, including your text messages. This process takes a few minutes.

    Woman using cell phone in artist studio
    Backup SMS text messages on your iPhone with these easy steps. Getty Images 

The iTunes method for text messages backup is fine if you want a single backup of the data on your phone, including your text messages. Its only drawback, however, is that it doesn't allow you to pick and choose individual items to restore to your iPhone. If you want that type of flexibility, you may want to look at using a third-party app.

Recover iOS Text Messages Using a Third-Party App

If you want more control over the way you back up text messages, you may want to try out a third-party app. Third-party apps for your computer that recover deleted or lost text messages include dr. fone - Recovery and Enigma Recovery. They install on your computer and recover data in one of three ways: by scanning a phone attached to the computer, by extracting lost data from an iTunes backup, or by extracting your iCloud backup to recover specific files.

That's it! Now that you know how to back up SMS messages on your smartphone and how to recover them, you can make sure those important text messages stay safe no matter what surprises life brings your way.