Texting is many peoples’ main form of communication, from making plans to sharing important information. Sometimes, tapping the wrong button or making a rash decision may cause you to delete texts you still need. Most Android phones, including the best Samsung phones, use Google Messages by default, but you may use Samsung Messages, a carrier alternative, or something else. However, you’re not totally out of luck. This guide shows you how to find and restore your deleted text messages for several text messaging apps.
This guide discusses how to retrieve deleted SMS and RCS text messages. If you delete a message on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or another app that doesn’t use SMS or RCS, you’ll need to refer to the recovery steps for that app.
How your smartphone stores and erases data
When we delete data, we consider it gone from our lives forever. However, that’s not the case. Data remains on your device even after you’ve tapped the delete button. Secure Data Recovery explains that when you erase content on your phone, it doesn’t disappear for good. Instead, your phone labels that space as available for new information to overwrite it until a new piece of data is downloaded and replaces it.
Your deleted data still exists on the phone’s drive, and there’s a chance of retrieving it, but there’s a catch. You must stop using your phone to send new messages, take more photos, and perform other actions. Any new content replaces the deleted files, so you must stop using your phone to retrieve the deleted text. If you continue to use your phone, you can’t recover your messages.
Even if you’ve overwritten your data, you can still recover your texts from a backup. Services such as Google One and Samsung Cloud automatically back up your data, so you don’t have to worry about it. There are also ways to recover data using recovery software on your PC, but these may require you to root your device and leave it vulnerable to malware or other dangers.
The device used for this walkthrough is a Samsung Galaxy A23 running Android 13 and the One UI 5.1 launcher. The procedures may look different on older and new versions of Android.
Restore text messages with Samsung Cloud
Samsung Cloud is a storage feature for Samsung devices that allows you to save files to the cloud and download them later. If you backed up your messages before you lost them using Samsung Cloud, you can recover them with the following steps:
- Swipe down with two fingers from the top of your homescreen to open the notification panel.
- Tap the Settings gear.
- In the Settings menu, scroll up and tap Accounts and backup.
- Select Restore data to see your backup history.
- Select the device you’d like to see the backup data for.
- Uncheck all data, except Messages, unless you want to restore multiple files.
- Tap Restore and wait for the messages to finish restoring.
Contact your mobile carrier for records of the lost SMS texts
Depending on your mobile carrier, you might be able to retrieve your texts through them. For example, if you use T-Mobile, Verizon, or AT&T, those companies keep records of the date, time, and people you exchanged texts with over a limited period. However, that doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the text message content since some carriers do not keep it. Since the period they save messages for is limited, you can’t restore every message you send.
To further complicate things, you’ll need a court order and a means of identification before your carrier company can release the information. Even though you own the device, the mobile carrier follows privacy policies to protect user data. They are obligated to protect the other party’s privacy in the text.
Use Samsung Smart Switch
Another method of recovering your messages is using Samsung Smart Switch. The data transfer solution is an official Samsung app that backs up data on your old Samsung phone and moves it to a new one. If you have existing data backed up on Samsung Switch, you can use it to get back your messages. You need to download and install the Samsung Smart Switch Mobile app on your new phone and PC before connecting them with a USB cable.
- Connect a USB cable to a free port on your computer. Then, connect the cable to your Samsung smartphone.
- Launch Smart Switch on your PC.
- Click Restore. The software automatically finds backed-up data on the computer. If it doesn’t, click Manually select file to import the backup file from your computer.
- Click Restore.
- Wait for Smart Switch to finish recovering your data.
Use Samsung Messages Recycle bin
If you have Samsung Messages set as your default texting app, Samsung Messages has a recycle bin where all deleted messages are stored for 30 days. If you don’t retrieve your deleted messages within that window, they’re gone forever.
The Samsung Messages Recycle bin is activated by default, but you can turn it off from the app’s Settings menu. When you do, all messages are permanently deleted without entering the bin.
- Open the Samsung Messages app.
- Tap the three-dot icon to expand an options list.
- Select Recycle bin.
- Find your text in the recycle bin and long-press it to select it. You can tap other text messages if you’d like to restore them.
- Tap Restore. Your deleted messages reappear among your existing messages.
How to protect your messages from being permanently deleted
Since recovering text messages is difficult, it might be worthwhile to take some precautionary steps in case something happens. Archiving and backing up your texts are great first steps to take.
Archiving is the best way to hide annoying chats you want to avoid without deleting them forever. Your messages remain in the Google Messages app, but you won’t see them anymore because they’re in a different folder. If Samsung Messages is your default app, you can’t archive texts because the app doesn’t have the feature. Google Messages, on the other hand, has this feature.
- Open Google Messages.
- Find the conversation you want to archive and then long-press it. You can select multiple conversations if desired.
- Tap the Archive icon to move your messages to the archive folder.
- To restore archived messages, tap the menu icon beside the search bar.
- Tap Archived to see your hidden messages.
- Long-press or select the messages you’d like to restore. Then tap the Unarchive icon to return your conversations to the main folder.
Back up your messages
Data backups are one of the easiest device tasks to do and can save time and headaches. Preinstalled cloud solutions like Samsung Cloud and Google One exist to make your life easier. Backups with Samsung Cloud and Google Drive require an internet connection, which can cost you money if you’re not on Wi-Fi.
We got your messages back
There was a time when deleting messages meant losing them for good. With more data recovery tools on the market, the risk of permanent data loss is almost nonexistent, but getting messages back is still difficult. It’s best to back up your device early and often to make the process easier if anything happens. You won’t have to retrieve anything if you don’t lose it in the first place.