SMS Backups: How to Save Text Messages

Save text messages for easy retrieval

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

It's always a good idea to back up your text messages before doing a major upgrade involving your phone, too. Fortunately, there's 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.

SMS Backup on Android

If you're wondering just how to backup text messages on your Android phone, concerned that it's probably trickier than you have time for, not to worry. There's an easy way to get the job done using a free mobile app called SMS Backup & Restore. This app is pretty 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.

Person holding a smartphone.

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

Backup Text Messages Using SMS Backup and Restore:

  1. Download SMS Backup and Restore from the Google Play store, then launch the app. From the main menu, tap Set Up a Backup to begin creating your backup.
  2. Choose the types of records you want to back up, whether that's text messages, phone calls, or call logs; you have the option to back up all messages or just selected conversations.
    1. Note: If you like, you can make sure emojis or MMS messages (multimedia messages involving photos, video, or audio) are included in the backup, too.
  3. Create a name for your backup so you can easily find it afterward.
  4. Decide where you would like to save the backup. You can save it directly onto your Android device, to Google Drive, in Dropbox, on OneDrive, or in Email.
    1. Note: if you only save your backup directly onto your Android device and something happens to the device, you may lose the backup. It's always a good idea to keep a separate copy stored somewhere else too.
  5. If you would like to set a regular schedule for backing up your messages, you can do so within the app's settings, located via the hamburger menu icon (three stacked horizontal lines) in the top-left corner.
  6. When you're ready to begin the backup, tap Back Up in the bottom-right corner of your screen.

While the process described above is the simplest method for creating a backup of your text messages, you can take advantage of more advanced text backup options if you like. For instance, you can also use the SMS Backup & Restore app to store SMS backups onto an SD card or even transfer new or existing SMS backups directly to another Android phone using the Wi-Fi Direct feature.

Of course, there are other popular apps you can try for backing up your text messages, including FonePaw Android Data Recovery, MobiKin Doctor for Android, and Dr. Fone for Android.

SMS Backup on iPhone

If you're an iPhone user, you have some easy options at your fingertips for backing up text messages, too. The most obvious choice is iCloud, which you can use to backup text messages as well as other data on your phone. The only caveat is once you delete a message from a device using iCloud it will likely be gone forever, this includes your iPhone as well as any other device using Messages in iCloud.

If you need a more robust SMS backup, you may want to check out how to backup to iTunes just a bit further down in this article. If you still want to try iCloud, here's how to enable Messages in iCloud.

Backup Text Messages By Enabling Messages in iCloud:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Tap on your name
  3. Tap iCloud
  4. Turn on Messages

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

Backup Text Messages to iTunes:

As said previously, 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 up on your computer. If it doesn't, open it manually.
  2. Your iPhone may ask you to unlock it. If it does, go ahead and do so.
  3. You should see your iPhone appear. If iTunes has opened to the iTunes Store and it's hard to find your iPhone, you'll find a small iPhone icon just below and to the right of the Play button. Select it.
  4. If you've enabled automatic syncing, your iPhone should automatically begin syncing to your computer using iTunes.
    1. Tip: If this feature isn't enabled yet and you would like to turn it on, choose between automatically back up to iCloud or automatically back up to iTunes under the Backups section in the middle left of your screen.
  5. To initiate a backup, select Back Up Now. Alternatively, you can go to File > Devices > Back Up to initiate a one-time manual backup.
  6. iTunes will proceed to completely back up the data on your phone, including your text messages. This process will take a few minutes.

This iTunes method for SMS backup is fine if you just 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.

Backup Text Messages on iPhone Using a Third-Party App

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

dr.fone screenshot
  1. Download and install Dr. Fone onto your computer (both Windows and Mac versions are available).
  2. Open Dr. Fone on your computer.
  3. Select the Recover panel at the far left of the screen that opens.
    1. Note: If your iPhone isn't already connected to your computer, you will get a prompt to connect it using a USB cable. Do so now. You may also need to unlock it for Dr. Fone to access it. If Dr. Fone appears to be waiting for your iPhone to connect, go ahead and unlock it.
  4. You will see a window with a wide range of recovery options for you to pick from. On the left panel, you can choose to Recover from iOS Device, Recover from iTunes backup file, or Recover from iCloud backup file. For the purposes of this exercise, since iTunes and iCloud options were already covered above, we'll choose to Recover from iOS Device.
  5. You'll see two major sections in the window before you. At the top, you'll see Deleted Data from the Device. This box should already be checked. At the bottom, will be Existing Data on the Device; since we're aiming to recover deleted data, uncheck the box next to this.
  6. You still have several options available to you in the top section for recovering deleted data from the device. To recover deleted text messages, you want to make sure the box marked Messages and Attachments is checked. Feel free to check or uncheck the other boxes depending on whether you want to recover those types of data as well.
  7. When you are ready to proceed, select Start Scan in the bottom-right of the window.
  8. Dr. Fone will now analyze your iPhone and scan it for deleted texts; this may take some time.
  9. Eventually, a new window should appear showing your deleted text messages as they come in. Dr. Fone may continue to recover the messages for a few minutes after this point; you will see a timer in the top-right corner of the window.
  10. When Dr. Fone is done, you can select the text messages you want to recover, then select Export to Mac (or a similar notification for your Windows computer) in the bottom-right corner of your screen.
  11. You can continue to use Dr. Fone in trial mode or, now that you've discovered whether or not it was able to retrieve your text messages, opt to purchase a copy so you can backup those texts to your computer; a one-year license costs $69.95, while a lifetime license costs $79.95.

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