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How to recover deleted text messages from an Android smartphone

Authored by: Kris Carlon — 4 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.

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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.

41 comments

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  • Menka K. 14 hours ago Link to comment

    Why don't use guys use the the apps like SMS Backup and Restore to backup your text messages?

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  • noahrobert 1 day ago Link to comment

    It is good to know that you can use FonePaw Android Recovery tool to get back the messages that yo have deleted by mistake.

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  • Pflmccllaa 3 days ago Link to comment

    So many solutions, which one do you like? Or which one are you going to choose ? I only know that the data was accidentally deleted,you should not add data on android phone .Because when you add thing on phone ,phone memory is easy to be covered.
    http://tinyurl.com/nfo2olk

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  • Lar fious 6 days ago Link to comment

    When it comes to file recovery, the first thing to bear in mind is that there are no guarantees. Data that's gone may very well be gone for good, especially if the device has been used since the file or files were deleted and new data has overwritten it. However, nothing ventured, nothing gained (or lost).

    Look this:
    http://www.androidphonesoft.com/resources/recover-deleted-messages-from-samsung-galaxy-note.html
    This tool I have been using 4 months, it could offer you a fighting chance.

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  • Wgfterrll 1 week ago Link to comment

    I saw it from google market .But I did not use it .I hope someone tell me this application if it is really good.
    http://www.samsung-recovery.net/resource/how-to-recover-deleted-text-messages-from-android-phone.html

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  • Po cooker 1 week ago Link to comment

    Thanks for your guide, someone can recover easily by putting the Google account back that you previously were using and the messages and contacts will automatically sync over to your device. Then it is possible to regain lost messages from it, however, the revery tool recommended are also helpful ane more effective and I find another tutorial here, hope be helpful:

    http://www.mobikin.com/android-recovery/recover-deleted-text-messages-from-android.html

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  • Wqlknow 3 weeks ago Link to comment

    My experience is that the lost messages can be still recovered by professional data recovery app, I also deleted the important messages by accident, and I get them back with Android rescuer app. Note, to ensure the recovery rate of your lost data, you must stop using your Android phone to receive new messages, that will cover your original data.

    For detailed tutoril:
    http://www.mobiledic.com/android-topic/how-to-recover-deleted-messages-android-phone.html

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  • Malcolm Andrei 3 weeks ago Link to comment

    Recover Deleted Contacts, SMS Messages, Photos, Video, Music and more from Samsung Galaxy, also works with any other Android phones.
    fb.com/KSOFT.CC/videos/679333125505336

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  • Mary Colins 1 month ago Link to comment

    good news to share here. if you are worried about some Android files recovery tool unable to support your Android 5.0 or newer, you can turn to a more professional and versatile one.

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  • saraanna 1 month ago Link to comment

    Thanks for sharing.

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  • Menka K. 2 months 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.

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  • Ashraf Morsal 4 months ago Link to comment

    Thanks alot ANDROIDPIT

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  • RBell 4 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.

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    • Neelesh Patel 3 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: http://www.androidphonesoft.com/resources/recover-lost-sms-from-android-phone.html

      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..

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  • Michael Marchbanks 5 months ago Link to comment

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

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    • User picture
      Pamela 3 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.

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  • Richard 5 months ago Link to comment

    Really helpful!

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  • Michael P 7 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?

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  • Sam496 7 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 www.enigma-recovery.com 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.

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