How to Retrieve Deleted Text Messages on Android

Losing any important file on a device can be devastating…especially if it was an important file. When it comes to PCs, we know there are ways to recover lost files via system backups, recovery software, etc., but what about other devices like phones? Let’s say you have an important text message thread that had valuable information or maybe a text that had some sort of sentimental value…are these recoverable “files,” or are they lost forever?

The good news is that they are not lost forever, but it will require a bit of work before they are recovered. Every type of phone may have a different recovery process, but today we will focus on how to retrieve deleted text messages on Android phones.

Android phone with logo on screen to retrieve deleted text messages.

Understanding The Process

You may know that deleted files are never permanently deleted on a hard drive unless you have used hard drive scrubbing software or had your hard drive shredded. Even if you have deleted your trash folder or emptied your recycle bin, deleted files are simply moved or hidden somewhere else on your HDD, waiting to be recovered or replaced. Once you have a basic understanding of how this works, it may become more apparent that retrieving old files on your phone (essentially a handheld computer) works the same way. Still, it’s essential to start the recovery process right away because, over time, your files (texts) will be replaced and eventually unrecoverable.

So how does this process work? Deletion itself does not remove the file from your system right away; it is only removed from your device. When it comes to phones, the deleted files would be the SMS or MMS messages that you are trying to recover. Once the text is deleted–intentionally or accidentally– your phone will mark the text file as inactive and replaceable. The deleted file will be temporarily stored on the phone’s storage device until it needs to make room for new files…this is why you should start the recovery process immediately.

Retrieving Deleted Text Messages on Androids

Before we get into the recovery process, there are a few things that you can check for that may make this process easier for you. So start by identifying what kind of file you are trying to recover; if you are trying to recover a deleted MMS that you saved, you most likely can find that media file in your backup or your synced cloud accounts if you have any.

If the file you are trying to retrieve is an actual SMS text message, then it may require a few extra steps to recover. Keep in mind that not all Android phones will automatically perform a backup, so if you are manually backing up your phone, it may be even more difficult to recover lost or deleted files.

How to retrieve deleted text messages on Android Phones:

  1. Turn your phone on airplane mode. Like we mentioned before, texts are simply files that have been deleted from the device and marked as inactive. You can prevent new data from being stored on your device by merely switching on airplane mode.
  2. Go To Google Drive on a different device or desktop computer if you can. With most Androids, Google Drive is used to back up data on your device, so you will have to see when your SMS was last backed up by following these steps:
    1. Go to Menu (once Google Drive is open)
    2. Choose Settings
    3. Select Google Backup
    4. Look for the name of your device (it will appear as long as it has been backed up)
    5. Select device
    6. Look for SMS Text Messages (there will be a timestamp to indicate when the last backup took place)
    7. Choose the backup that happened before the text was deleted
  3. Reset your phone to factory settings. Only reset your phone to factory settings if you have found a recent backup. The downside of retrieving deleted texts is that they cannot simply be restored from Google Drive.
  4. Restore your last backup by following the prompts after you have factory reset your Android phone. Once you are signed in to Google Drive, you can restore your phone to the last backup.

Another way to retrieve deleted text messages on Androids is to use software recovery programs that are specifically designed to work on phones. Keep in mind that recovery software is not guaranteed to work, especially if you are not familiar with the technology behind the recovery process.

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