How to Recover Deleted Text Messages: Your Complete Guide

How to Recover Deleted Text Messages: Your Complete Guide

Updated February 3rd, 2023

Whether you need a copy of your text messages for legal purposes, business records, or just for sentimental value, it’s useful to know how to recover deleted text messages. The question of how to do so, however, might send panic through just about anyone when you start searching through your phone for a special text and realize it’s no longer there.

While our mass texting service allows business clients to keep copies of all text logs for future reference, we’re also experts in all things text messaging — and know all the tricks when it comes to retrieving deleted texts from your iPhone or Android. 

Need to recover deleted text messages from your phone? Whether you’re smartphone addicted or need your texts for serious reasons, here’s your guide for how to get those lost text messages back.

Method 1: Recover deleted text messages from iPhone backup

Now that the macOS Catalina has removed the iTunes app, you can no longer use iTunes to recover lost text messages. However, you can still retrieve deleted texts from iCloud if your text messages have previously been backed up. Here’s how to do it:

  • Step 1: Open Settings and tap on your name or picture at the top
  • Step 2: Select iCloud > Manage Storage > Backups
  • Step 3: Search to see if your old text messages are included in a prior back up 
  • Step 4: Restore your iPhone to the old backup. Go to General > Reset > Erase all content. When your phone resets, you’ll have the opportunity to restore it from an old back up (make sure you choose the correct one). 

Method 2: Recover deleted texts messages from iCloud website

Not all territories or carriers will allow iCloud to backup SMS messages, but some do! If you’re in that lucky category, this could be the simplest way to recover text messages.

  • Step 1: Log in to using your Apple ID
  • Step 2: Select text messages (Note: if the “text messages” icon doesn’t appear, that likely means your SMS messages are not backed up to iCloud). 
  • Step 3: Find the messages you’re looking for
  • Step 4: From your iPhone, select: Settings > [Your name] > iCloud. Then, turn off text messages. 
  • Step 5: A pop up will appear, select “Keep On My iPhone”
  • Step 6: Turn text messages on
  • Step 7: Select “Merge.” Your deleted text messages should then reappear on your iPhone

Method 3: Recover deleted texts on Android

Need to recover deleted texts from an Android? In most cases, deleting a file on an Android, such as an SMS or an MMS, doesn’t totally trash the file immediately. Instead, it marks the file as “inactive,” signaling to your phone that it can write over that information to replace it with new data — such as new text messages. Therefore, if you discover you’ve deleted an important SMS from your Android and need to get it back, stop using your phone immediately. 

Then, you can use a data recovery software to search for the deleted SMS or MMS message. Each software has its own instructions. If you don’t feel comfortable running the software on your PC, you can reach out to a local company with expertise in data recovery.

Method 4: Contact your carrier

If you really need those deleted text messages and the above methods haven’t worked for you, consider contacting your phone carrier. Some companies will keep a record of your text messages, although in some cases you might need a court order to gain access. 

Here is a list of the retention periods of major carriers from the ACLU:

deleted text message data

Prevent deleted business text messages

One of the most frustrating experiences for marketing managers and customer service leaders is trying to recover a chain of text messages only to discover their business texting software didn’t save them. In cases like this, it’s almost impossible to recover prior text messages, which is why you should ensure that your business texting platform is saving customer interaction logs continuously. Here are some cases where detailed customer SMS records come in handy:

  • Customer disputes: Having a record of what was texted, when and by whom can be essential when it comes to solving customer service disputes. This can be particularly important if you experience any legal difficulties with any of your clients. 
  • Employee records: If you use text messaging for corporate communications, saving your text messages can give you a paper trail if any of your practices are called into question. 
  • Marketing details: Knowing all the details of a marketing initiative, including the wording of your SMS messages, the time they were sent and tracking any performance metrics is essential not just when it comes to planning your next campaign but also in the case of employee turnover or transition between roles. Recovering deleted texts for marketing is almost impossible and could cause you to lose a lot learnings that help fine tune your efforts.

If you do end up accidentally deleting customer text logs or interactions, reach out to your business text messaging platform’s customer support to inquire about restoring that data as soon as possible.  

To prevent accidentally deleting your business text messages, here’s what you should check on (even if you aren’t tech savvy).

  • Where are text logs saved? Ask your mass text messaging platform how they save customer interactions, or if they save them at all.
  • How long are texts stored for? Get clarity from your business texting provider on how long they will store your texts for. This is very important if you need to save texts securely for a certain time period — as is the case for some medical offices or educational institutions.
  • How can you access text logs? Find out if you’ll be able to review saved texts yourself or if you will need to be granted access by your business texting platform.

By reviewing these questions in advance, you can prevent having to retrieve deleted texts later down the road.