SMS Backups: How to Save Text Messages

Back up text messages on iOS and Android for easy retrieval

This article shows how to perform an SMS backup on an Android device and on an iPhone.

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, 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.

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

  2. In the main menu, tap Set Up a Backup to begin.

  3. Move the sliders next to Messages and Phone calls to the On position to back them up.

  4. Tap Advanced Options to customize what is backed up. Choose Selected conversations only and indicate whether to include emojis or MMS messages, such as photos and videos. When finished, select Next.

    SMS Backup & Restore app screens for Android backups
  5. Choose where you want to save the backup (Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive), then tap Configure for your selected option.

  6. Select Log In to connect your phone to your online account. Choose how long you want messages to be saved in the configuration screen. If you are backing up to more than one service or location, repeat this step for each option. Tap Save.

  7. Choose how frequently you want to schedule backups and then select Back Up Now.

    SMS Backup & Restore app configuration

    It's also possible to store SMS backups on 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.

    iCloud settings on iPhone with Messages enabled

When you delete a message from a device using iCloud, it is removed from all other devices with the same Apple ID using Messages in iCloud.

How to Back Up Text Messages to iTunes

Apple removed iTunes in macOS Catalina (10.15). However, if you still run 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 iPhone icon 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 syncs 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 want 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 "Automatically Back Up" heading highlighted
  5. Select Back Up Now if iTunes isn't configured to automatically back up when the iPhone is connected. iTunes completely backs 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 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 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. 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 left of the screen that opens.

    If your iPhone isn't 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, choose either 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 "Existing Data on the Device" option highlighted
  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.

    Dr. Fone with the Messages & Attachments option highlighted
  6. Select Start Scan in the lower-right corner of the window. Eventually, a new window appears and shows 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 displays a timer in the upper-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 lower-right corner of the screen.

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