Can text messages be recovered on Android?

Text messages, also known as SMS messages, have become an indispensable means of communication for many people. Smartphones running the Android operating system have made texting even more convenient. However, you may sometimes accidentally delete important text conversations or entire message threads that you wanted to keep. So an important question arises – is it possible to recover deleted text messages on Android phones?

Quick Answer

Yes, it is possible to recover deleted text messages on Android smartphones, provided that no new data has overwritten the deleted texts. There are a few methods to restore deleted SMS on Android devices:

  • Use the Android SMS recovery feature of Android smartphones like Samsung to restore deleted texts from the device internal memory.
  • Retrieve deleted texts from Google Drive backup if you had enabled backup.
  • Use a third party Android SMS recovery app to extract deleted texts from the phone memory or SIM card if you don’t have Google Drive backup.

Can You Recover Deleted Text Messages on Android?

The short answer is yes, you can recover deleted text messages on Android phones. When you delete SMS on Android devices, the messages are not immediately erased from the system. Instead, only the index links pointing to the text messages are removed. The deleted text messages remain in the memory storage until they are overwritten by new data. This provides a window of opportunity to recover recently deleted texts on Android.

However, the chances of SMS recovery depend on certain factors:

  • How soon you attempt to restore deleted texts after deletion
  • Whether the phone memory has available storage space into which new data can be saved
  • If you backed up text messages on Google Drive or other storage
  • The recovery method used

If you act quickly before the deleted SMS are overwritten and use a suitable text recovery method, you stand a good chance of getting back lost important text conversations on your Android device.

How Are Deleted Text Messages Stored on Android Phones?

To understand how deleted text message recovery is possible on Android, you need to know how your device saves and manages text messages.

On Android phones, incoming and outgoing SMS are stored in the following locations:

  • Phone internal memory – The bulk of text messages are saved into the internal storage of the Android device. The internal memory has a dedicated SMS storage database that keeps a record of all sent and received texts.
  • SIM card – Besides the phone memory, some recently sent and received text messages may also be stored on the SIM card. Most modern Android phones can save up to 40-60 texts on SIM.
  • External SD card – If your Android phone supports external storage, the text messages may additionally get copied over to the external SD card storage during routine backups.
  • Google Drive – Android phones give you the option to automatically backup texts to Google Drive storage. So deleted texts may be present there.

When you delete SMS on your Android smartphone, only the links or pointers to the text messages are erased. The deleted text messages continue to be stored in the original location – phone internal storage, SIM card or external SD card. They remain there invisible to you until the space is required for saving new data.

Knowing this helps understand how you can recover deleted text messages on Android phones with the right tool or method, as long as the deleted SMS are not lost due to being overwritten by newly saved data.

How to Recover Deleted Text Messages on Android

Here are the most effective ways to retrieve deleted text messages on Android phones:

Method 1: Use Android SMS Recovery Feature

Many Android manufacturers such as Samsung and LG have built-in SMS recovery or restore features in their native messaging apps. For example, on Samsung Galaxy phones, you can restore deleted text messages using the Messages app itself:

  1. Open the Messages app on your Samsung device.
  2. Tap the 3-dot Menu button in the top right corner.
  3. Tap ‘Settings’ and go to the ‘Message settings’ option.
  4. Enable the ‘Recover deleted messages’ feature here.
  5. Tap ‘Done’ to save this setting.

Once enabled, you can access and restore deleted text messages from up to 30 days ago in the ‘Recently deleted’ folder of the Messages app. Tap and hold any text message thread here to recover it to your main Messages screen.

Method 2: Extract Deleted Texts from Google Drive Backup

If you had enabled automatic Google Drive backup on your Android phone, there is a way to recover deleted text messages from the cloud storage. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Google Drive app or log into the Google Drive website from your computer.
  2. Open the Google Drive Backup folder and navigate to the SMS folder inside it.
  3. Go through your archived text message threads to find the deleted conversation.
  4. Select and copy the deleted text thread that you want to restore.
  5. Paste the copied text conversation to any text app like Google Keep to view it.

This method allows you to view deleted old text messages as long as they were backed up to Google Drive before deletion.

Method 3: Use Android SMS Recovery App

If the above two methods do not work, your best bet is to use a dedicated SMS recovery app for Android. A text message recovery app provides the maximum chances of getting back deleted texts from Android devices. Follow these steps:

  1. Select and install a reputed Android text message recovery app like FoneDog Toolkit- Android Data Recovery.
  2. Launch the app on your Android phone and grant it the requested permissions.
  3. Select the ‘Messages’ or ‘SMS’ recovery option from the app interface.
  4. The app will scan your phone memory and display all recoverable deleted texts.
  5. Preview and select the deleted text messages or entire threads you want to restore.
  6. The app lets you save the recovered messages to your phone or export them as HTML or CSV files.

A DIY Android SMS recovery app like FoneDog Toolkit thoroughly scans your phone memory as well as the SIM card to extract deleted texts that may still be present. It can recover SMS even if your phone lacks a built-in recovery feature or Google Drive backup.

Can You Recover Permanently Deleted Texts on Android?

Permanent deletion of text messages occurs when the deleted SMS are overwritten by new data saved to the phone storage. Once text messages are permanently deleted, it becomes almost impossible to recover them through DIY methods.

However, there is one last solution you can try – seek help from data recovery experts or companies. Reputed Android data recovery services employ advanced techniques like disk imaging tools to extract overwritten text messages from phone memory dump or SIM card dump.

But this requires you to send your Android device or SIM to the recovery company. Also, keep in mind that professional SMS recovery can be expensive and has variable success rates. Consult data recovery experts to find out if permanently deleted text messages can still be salvaged from your Android smartphone.

How to Avoid Losing Text Messages on Android

Prevention is always better than cure. Follow these best practices to avoid losing important SMS threads on your Android phone:

  • Enable Google Drive backup so that your text messages regularly get saved to the cloud.
  • Export important text conversations occasionally as backup.
  • Be careful while deleting SMS threads and avoid bulk deletion.
  • Back up text messages to computer with Android backup software.
  • Use a file manager app on Android to make backups to external SD card.
  • Don’t let your phone storage and SIM card remain full for too long.
  • Switch off auto media deletion in messaging apps to prevent accidental SMS deletion.

Does Deleting Texts on Android Delete Them Everywhere?

When you delete text messages on your Android phone, they are erased from your device only. However, the messages may continue to exist in the following locations:

  • The sender’s and recipient’s phones will still have the conversation thread where the texts were exchanged.
  • If the texts were backed up to cloud storage like Google Drive, they will be present there.
  • Your mobile carrier will have records of sent and received text messages on its servers.
  • If the texts were synced to email in-app or via SMS backup app, copies will be there in email inbox.

So while deleting text messages removes them from your Android device, traces of the SMS may still be present in other locations. This again highlights the importance of backing up important texts from your phone to avoid permanent data loss.

What Gets Deleted with Text Messages on Android?

When you delete SMS on Android phones, the following items also stand to be lost:

  • The entire text conversation threads containing back and forth messages.
  • Any media attachments such as photos, videos, GIFs, audio files exchanged in texts.
  • The associated text message details like sender name & number, timestamp, delivery status.
  • Any emojis or stickers exchanged within text conversations.

So it’s not just the text content but also the rich history of conversations that you miss out on when text messages are deleted and not recoverable.

Do Deleted Text Messages Take Up Space on Android?

When you delete text messages on your Android phone, the space they occupied in the phone storage does get freed up. However, the reclaimed space stays unavailable for saving new data until it is rewritten on by the operating system.

So while deleted text messages do not take up measurable storage, neither can you utilize the space they were occupying until it is overwritten. This is why you must not rely on deletion alone to manage SMS storage on your Android phone.

To ensure your phone’s messaging storage stays optimized, follow these tips:

  • Delete non-important text threads regularly before they accumulate.
  • Enable auto-deletion of older texts at periodic intervals.
  • Frequently backup texts to cloud storage or computer and delete from device.
  • Export and save media-heavy conversations separately before deleting texts.
  • Transfer old SMS threads from phone memory to SIM card.
  • Add external SD card to store text message backups if phone supports.

How Many Deleted Text Messages Are Kept on Android?

There is no fixed number of deleted text messages that will be kept stored on Android phones before being overwritten. The retention duration depends on:

  • Amount of free space available in phone internal storage.
  • Total size of deleted text message threads.
  • Frequency of adding new data like apps, media files, messages on device.
  • Amount of RAM in Android device determines storage management efficiency.

For instance, a budget Android phone with 8GB onboard storage may overwrite deleted texts within a day or two. A high-end 128GB device will retain deleted SMS for many weeks unless storage is almost full.

Due to the variable factors, it’s hard to accurately predict the retention period of deleted texts on Android. The only sure ways to preserve deleted messages are through timely backup or immediate recovery.

Where to Look for Deleted Texts on Android?

To recover deleted text messages on Android phones, you need to target these storage locations:

  • Internal phone storage – Deleted texts may still be salvaged from unallocated space in phone memory provided it’s not overwritten.
  • SIM card – Up to 30-40 of the latest SMS threads deleted from device could be present on the SIM.
  • External SD card – If available in your phone, the external storage may house text message backup files.
  • Google Drive – The archive SMS folder here will retain copies of deleted texts if backup was enabled.

A data recovery app for Android will automatically scan through all these locations and more to extract as many deleted text messages as possible for you to restore.

How to Recover Deleted Texts from Android SIM Card?

If you had enabled saving sent SMS to SIM card in messaging settings, here is how you can attempt to recover recently deleted texts from SIM:

  1. Take out the SIM card from your Android phone.
  2. Insert the SIM in another phone and make note of any retrievable deleted texts.
  3. Alternatively, use a SIM card reader to connect your SIM to a computer.
  4. Scan the SIM card with a data recovery program to extract deleted SMS.
  5. Save the retrieved messages to your computer for reference.

However, success rate of this method is low. A more reliable way for SIM card SMS recovery is to use a specialized Android SMS recovery app on the same phone where messages were deleted.

How to Recover Deleted Texts from SD Card on Android?

If your Android phone supports external SD card storage, here are some ways to try and restore deleted text messages from SD card:

  • Connect the SD card or memory card to a computer’s card reader.
  • Scan it with a file recovery software like Recuva to extract deleted SMS backup files.
  • Search the SD card on phone via a file manager to locate any residual text files.
  • Use a trusted Android SMS recovery app that scans external storage to find deleted texts.

Overall, recovering deleted texts from external SD card has low success rate. Your best chance lies with Android data recovery apps that thoroughly scan even removable storage on phones.

Android OS Version SMS Storage Location
Android 2.3 to Android 4.3 Internal Phone Storage
Android 4.4 to Android 9 Internal Phone Storage and SIM Card
Android 10 to Latest Internal Phone Storage

How Does Deleting Texts Work on Android?

Here is an overview of how the text message deletion process works on Android phones:

  1. When you delete SMS on Android, only the index entries pointing to the messages are erased.
  2. The space occupied by deleted texts is marked as unallocated and available for overwriting.
  3. The actual deleted text messages remain in phone storage until new data replaces it.
  4. Your Android device determines when and how to overwrite the deleted SMS space.
  5. Overwriting depends on available space, device usage, storage algorithms.
  6. Once text messages are overwritten, they are permanently lost and unrecoverable.

So the window between deletion and overwriting is your opportunity to attempt recovery of deleted text messages on Android devices.


To summarize, recovering deleted text messages on Android is possible if you act quickly before SMS threads are permanently overwritten. Make use of inbuilt deletion recovery, Google Drive backup and SMS recovery apps to get back lost important texts on Android.

Enable backup options regularly, export vital conversations periodically, and avoid bulk deletion of texts. With the right precautions and recovery methods, you can minimize risk of losing precious text messages on your Android smartphone.