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How to recover deleted text messages from an Android smartphone

Kris Carlon

If you've accidentally deleted some or all of your text messages by mistake, fret not! You can get them back with a 99% chance of success, but there's one ingredient that is most important: time! If you've deleted your SMS inbox you have to act quick, because while the messages are recoverable until the portion of memory on which they are saved is rewritten, the longer you wait the higher the likelihood of getting new text messages, app updates or who-knows-what saved to the same location, obliterating them forever.

top 5 sms apps android teaser
Don't take any chances with your SMS. If you're too late already, here's how to recover them. / © AndroidPIT

Tools to recover deleted SMS

There's a couple of different PC-based tools to help you through this part of the process, and of course, also for Mac users. Generally speaking they are free (or have a free trial) and do the job equally as well as one another. The particular tool you choose will depend on your personal preference, but they all do basically the same thing: scan your Android's memory, identify and recover your ''deleted'' messages. They'll all walk you through the process, which is usually only four steps long: connect, scan, preview, recover. The process works for other data besides text messages as well. Some programs worth trying out include:

Coolmuster Android SMS+Contacts Recovery

Wondershare Dr. Fone for Android (requires root)

Android Data Recovery

How to recover lost text messages on Android

Depending which program you choose, the steps may be different, but all you essentially have to do is (I'll use Wondershare for illustration purposes):

1. Download and install one of the programs above. Launch the program on your computer.

2. Connect your Android to your computer (with the recovery program installed and program running) with a USB cable.

drfone android sc01
 © Wondershare

3. Enable USB Debugging on your Android. To do this, you need to have access to the Developer Options in your main Settings menu. If you don't, just go to About Phone, scroll down to Build Number and start tapping repeatedly. You'll now get access to Developer Options in the main Settings menu (just above About Phone). Go into Developer Options, scroll down to USB Debugging (or Android Debugging, depending on your ROM) and check the box.

drfone android sc02
© Wondershare

4. Follow the prompts in the recovery program to scan or analyze your Android's memory.

drfone android sc05
© Wondershare

5. Once the process is complete you will have access to browse and preview the data stored on your Android device (whether it has been ''deleted'' or not. As long as the particular part of memory on which is was originally stored has not been saved over, you can still get the data back. This is why it's important to act quickly if you've lost data.

drfone android sc09
© Wondershare

6. Simply locate your text message folder (or however the particular program presents your data), select the messages you wish to recover and either use the Recover action in the program to put them back on your device or save them to your computer for safe keeping.

Note: if you want to complete this process without a PC, chances are you will need root access on your device and more than likely a paid recovery app. In any case, it's easier and free to use a computer. 

How to prevent it happening again

Ok, so maybe you've learned your lesson, maybe you haven't. If you're not into paying for any of the programs above long-term or simply don't like the free options, your best bet is to ensure you don't have a need for them again. This means backing up your messages from now on. It's so simple it only takes five minutes to save yourself the pain of having to deal with this situation again. I use a free app called SMS Backup & Restore. It's straightforward, looks nice and works perfectly: basically all you need for this type of operation. Check out the screenshots below for the walkthrough.

AndroidPIT SMS Backup 1
SMS Backup & Restore is clean and simple to use. / © AndroidPITMDroid Apps
AndroidPIT SMS Backup 3
Hit Backup and you're done. Restoring your backup is explained clearly too. / © AndroidPITMDroid Apps
AndroidPIT SMS Backup 2
Don't take chances, once backed up, export to email, the cloud, SD. / © AndroidPITMDroid Apps
AndroidPIT SMS Backup 4
Take advantage of the opportunity to schedule backups and more. / © AndroidPITMDroid Apps

Have you ever lost your text messages by accident? Did you manage to recover them? How do you protect your text messages?

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  • Megha megha 8 months ago Link

    Its time to download this SMS Backup & Restore free app.As it suggests,hope its not time consuming.Well it seems to be.

    • User picture
      Kris Carlon 8 months ago Link

      Not time consuming at all! From installing to backing up it'll take you less than a minute. But do spent another minute to export your backup and set a backup schedule. That way you'll never lose another SMS again!

  • Dipro Sarkar 8 months ago Link

    You can even schedule it on an archive basis.

  • Robert Dell 8 months ago Link

    SMS B&R works great also if you have to do a factory reset, or move to another phone. Just backup your messages to your SD card, then restore from there when the reset is done or put it into the new phone. Now you don't have to lose all your messages.

  • Ngozi Nwoke 6 months ago Link

    Hello,guy! I suffered from the same problem last month. In fact, it is possible to recover deleted text messages from Samsung Galaxy S3, after the trouble I searched for solution for text messages recovery on the web. Finally, I learned that I can use an software called Tenorshare Android Data Recovery software to get back deleted data from Android phone.

    Good luck!

  • User picture
    Kris Carlon 4 months ago Link

    Just to clarify, SMS Backup and Restore is not going to help you RECOVER lost messages, just back them up when they are safe on your phone and then restore them (but only if you've saved them first!). If you haven't backed them up SMS B&R won't be any use.

  • Bur Vice 3 months ago Link

    i hope Apple finds a solution to this problem, which is becoming more common as the iPhone users increase. The good news is, you can get your messages back, but the not-so-good news is, there’s no free method available. I can’t speak for other websites, but this one have I personally used and it’s quite a good user guide. I accidentally lost some irreplaceable messages, and because it's a lifetime licence they gave me, I can always re-cover – that is, as long as I have my iPhone.

    There are some others,so do your research and I hope you get your stuff back (if you haven't already).

  • User picture
    Uweelly 3 months ago Link

    If you deleted them then recover them straight away then you'll 100% get them back, but if you've been using your phone a lot and over writing those deleted data... then your chance of getting all of them back will be slimmer. Try to recover your data, you'll need one software.

  • Mavish98 3 months ago Link

    Actually i recently updated my galaxy grand quotrro to 4.1.2 and when i returned i saw my phone empty(means all contacts and messages on PHONE were lost).All i was left wa the memory in sd card .
    Please help

    • User picture
      Kris Carlon 3 months ago Link

      As mentioned above, act quickly! Turn off your data so nothing new gets written over the top of what is already saved on your memory card and get some recovery software and follow the steps. This tutorial is a good start!

  • lockmanjcir 2 months ago Link

    I finally found these three Android Recovery tools all seems to be useful because I have simplely restore deleted SMS from Samsung. So is there anyone tried successfully restoring lost data with other program?

  • Cgvmellii 1 month ago Link

    If want to recover deleted sms on Samsung Galaxy , you need a third-party tool which can help us to recover deleted messages.

  • Barry H. 5 hours ago Link

    And for those of us who prefer not to be beholden to Apple or Microsoft, but use open source for all our computing - with Linux - is there an equivalent to these commercial programs in the free world?
    I mean, what's the point of having an open-source phone if I have to rely on a commercial operating system to work on it?