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How to recover deleted text messages from an Android smartphone

Authored by: Kris Carlon — 3 months ago

If you've accidentally deleted text messages by mistake, fret not! You can get lost SMS 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 the messages are only recoverable until the portion of memory on which they are saved is rewritten. So 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. Here's how to recover lost text messages on Android.

chat sms messaging
If you've lost text messages or deleted your SMS, here's how to recover them. / © ANDROIDPIT

Tools to recover deleted SMS

There are 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:

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 the following (I'll use Wondershare for illustration purposes):

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

2. 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.

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First you need to enable USB Debugging on your Android smartphone. / © Wondershare

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

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Connect your phone to your PC with USB Debugging enabled. / © Wondershare

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

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Once connected, the program will scan your device. / © 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
You can filter the data you want to recover: in this case, text messages. / © Wondershare

6. Simply locate your text message folder (or however the particular program displays 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 never lose a text message 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
SMS Backup & Restore Install on Google Play

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

Kris Carlon comes to the AndroidPIT Editorial Team via a lengthy period spent traveling and relying on technology to keep him in touch with the outside world. He joined the Android community while resurfacing in civilization back in 2010 and has never looked back, using technology to replace his actual presence in other people's lives ever since. He can usually be found juggling three phones at once and poring over G+ posts, Reddit and RSS feeds.


Write new comment:
  • saraanna 1 week ago Link to comment

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Menka K. 3 weeks ago Link to comment

    With the new Android 5.0 Lollipop it's more harder to recover deleted data from Android device as most of the Android recovery tools doesn't support this latest Android. But as I mentioned in my last comment this thing is still working with Lollipop, Kitkat, and few older versions.

    For all those folks who are having a hard time recovering text messages or any other content from their android device. Give it a try!

  • Ashraf Morsal 2 months ago Link to comment

    Thanks alot ANDROIDPIT

  • RBell 3 months ago Link to comment

    This was a very interesting and useful article I discovered having accidentally deleted a text message conversation thread on my new phone (SM-G357FZ).

    However, following it and other similar articles, I discovered that for the vast majority of stock Android phones (ie. not rooted), it is not possible to recover deleted normal SMS/text messages. This being due to SMS messages being stored in the phone's flash memory, which is largely inaccessible to analysis from stock Android.

    Obviously, if any one can point out a tool that can reliably recover deleted SMS messages held in the phone's normal message store without requiring either a specific device or a device to be root'ed, I would be interested...

    So to emphasis the second part of the article it is better to install as standard an SMS Backup tool such as SMS B&R which effectively reads the SMS message store and stores a copy on to the SDcard or elsewhere (user configurable location) and set it to perform a regular backup/export.

    • Neelesh Patel 2 months ago Link to comment

      The same thing happened to me last week on my Droid 4. I was replying to a text, the phone locked up, I rebooted, and all my texts were gone, then I search it on the web and I found this guide would be useful, people should not miss is:

      PS: I also found other solution, but I'm not sure if it works for you.
      Go to the contact in your contact book press the menu button and then hit history and all your deleted messages and threads should be there..

  • Michael Marchbanks 4 months ago Link to comment

    Is it possible to retrieve text that were deleted over a year ago?

    • User picture
      Pamela 2 months ago Link to comment

      It is hardly to recover text messages deleted over a year ago, as the messages probably be overwritten by new content.

  • Richard 4 months ago Link to comment

    Really helpful!

  • Michael P 6 months ago Link to comment

    WARNING! I used SMS Backup and Restore several times to back up my Android text messages for a court case, and in several cases it DELETED several dozen emails. It appears to happen when the app crashes while creating the backup database. I got in the habit of running the app every few months, and sometimes it worked fine (no crash and no deleted messages) while other times it crashed, and when I checked both the phone itself and the backup file there were dozens of messages missing. Hopefully there is another app out there which is more reliable?

  • Sam496 6 months ago Link to comment

    There are loads of website, which claim to be able to recover lost and deleted text messages from Androids, such as and others, like this Wondershare, etc. but I've heard they're not that good? I'm a bit confused as to whom to trust. Which one is the most trustworthy one? Thanks in advance.

  • Bj isa 6 months ago Link to comment

    I lost videos on my S3 and cannot Recover the lost data because the computer is not seeing the phone memory as a drive. I downloaded recuva but won't see the phone as a drive. It is not assigning a drive letter. Any help please??

  • Marwa Mohammed 6 months ago Link to comment

    I tried those steps but it doesn't work :( am so disappointed. coz i lose my SMS history that i rested my Mobile before take a backup :( what should i do any help plz???

  • lingZhang 6 months ago Link to comment

    It is possible to recover deleted text message from android phones, but you should make sure have backup files somewhere.
    1. Google account, if you have a google account for your android phone and open the automaticalli sync, you can try to recover from google account.
    2. Offical PC software, generally speaking, an android phone need to upgrade in computer via a official PC software, such as Samsung PC studio, and this applicaiton have a automatically backup function, when you connect the phone to computer and launch the application, it will make a backup for your phone data, thus you can try to find the backup from PC studio.
    3. The 3rd-party "MobiKin Doctor for Android", which is similar with PC studio, and it is more convenient, and the backup is more obvious

  • ZhangHeng 7 months ago Link to comment

    Dear friends,If you want to recover deleted text message from android phone. MobiKin Doctor for Android programs worth trying out.Hope this helps.

  • Barry H. 7 months ago Link to comment

    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?

  • Cgvmellii 9 months ago Link to comment

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

  • lockmanjcir 10 months ago Link to comment

    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?

  • Mavish98 11 months ago Link to comment

    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

    • Kris Carlon
      • Admin
      • Staff
      11 months ago Link to comment

      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!

  • User picture
    Uweelly 11 months ago Link to comment

    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.

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