A lot of daily communication happen on our smartphones due to their portability and usage convenience. Communication information and history rest on our devices for reference purposes. But what happens when you lose your smartphone to theft or it gets damaged accidentally?
You may already know that instant messaging applications like WhatsApp lets you back up your chat history locally on your device and cloud storage accounts. Did you know that text messages (or SMS, as they are fondly called) can also be stored in the cloud? That makes it easy to recover messages should you misplace your smartphone or after a factory reset.
For Android users, Google Drive is one of the most commonly used cloud backup solutions. And in this tutorial, we'll show you some methods through which you can recover Android messages from Google Drive to your smartphone.
But first, let's talk about backing up messages on Android and how to get it done.
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From Device Settings
Backing Up Messages to Google Drive
On your Android smartphone, you can take a backup of almost all kinds of data. By default, when you take a backup of your device, SMS text messages are added to the backup data that's saved to your connected Google Drive account. This means, for now, there's no way to backup only SMS messages.
That said, check out how to automatically back up text messages to Google Drive on an Android smartphone.
Step 1: Tap the gear icon on the home screen or app tray to launch the Android Settings menu.
Step 2: Select Google.
That will redirect you to the Google account management dashboard.
Step 3: Select Backup.
Step 4: Now, ensure that the ‘Backup to Google Drive’ option is toggled on. If it's not, tap it to toggle it on.
Step 5: Additionally, ensure that a Google Drive account is selected. That is where your backup data is stored.
Step 6: To be sure your SMS messages are being added to a backup, tap the name of your device. You should see ‘SMS text messages’ on the list of data that's being backed up.
Step 7: Finally, tap the Backup now button to take a backup of your Android messages.
Locating Backup File on Google Drive
Step 1: Launch the Google Drive application on your device.
You can download the Google Drive app from the Playstore if you don't have one installed on your device.
Now you should see the file containing your backup data. Tapping on it only shows details of the backup. But how do you restore that backup and most importantly, how do you restore your SMS text messages?
Restoring Android Messages from Device Settings
1. Factory Reset
Currently, the Android OS is built in such a way that you can't restore the backups made to Google Drive directly. Quite a number of Android users have complained and searched for a fix, but it just cannot be done. It's saddening, but that's how the Android OS is wired, at least for now.
The only workaround is to factory-reset your device. Only then will you be able to restore your SMS text messages (alongside other backup data). When you do a factory reset, all backup data will be restored to the device.
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But that's too much of a sacrifice to make because you risk losing all previously-installed applications and other device settings during the factory reset process. You should only do this if you are out of options, and you don't mind losing the apps and files on your device's internal storage.
A better alternative to directly restore messages on your Android device without going down the factory-reset route is to use a third-party application.
2. Third-Party Apps
There are a handful of applications on the Google Playstore that can help you backup and restore SMS text messages from your Google Drive account.
I spent time using some of these SMS-restore apps with good reviews and reasonable user ratings. I found one to be effective and does what it is meant to do. The app is called the SMS Backup & Restore designed by SyncTech Pty Ltd.
Launch the app after installation, grant it the necessary permission it requests for, and follow the steps below to backup and restore messages on your Android device.
Backup SMS Messages
Step 1: On the app's homepage, tap the “Set Up A Backup” button.
Step 2: Toggle off the Phone calls option to backup only your SMS messages. Tap Next to continue.
Step 3: Toggle on the Google Drive option and tap Next to continue.
Step 4: Now, tap the Log In button to connect the app to your Google Drive.
On the next page, you will be have to select the type of access you want the app to have to your Google Drive. It is recommended that you give the app limited access to files and folders it needs.
Step 5: Select the second option — "Only access to files and folders opened or created with SMS Backup & Restore."
Step 6: Select the Google Drive account and tap OK to continue. If you don't have a Google Drive account linked to your smartphone, tap the Add account option to add one.
Step 7: Tap Allow for granting the app access to your Drive account.
Now all is set for you to back up your SMS messages to your Google Drive.
Step 8: With your Google Drive account configured, tap Save to proceed with the SMS backup process.
Step 9: Toggle on the Over Wi-Fi option if you want to backup SMS messages over Wi-Fi only. Toggle it off if you wish to use mobile data. The 'While charging' feature also lets you choose if you want to upload SMS message backup to Google Drive on battery power or while the device is charging.
Step 10: Tap Next to proceed.
After that, the backup process commences and you will get notified on its completion.
You can create an automatic or recurring schedule for backing up your messages by tapping the 'Set Up A Schedule" button on the homepage. The app lets you schedule SMS backup on a daily, weekly, and hourly basis.
Restoring SMS Messages
Step 1: On the app's homepage, tap the hamburger menu icon.
Step 2: Select Restore.
Step 3: Toggle on Messages to select the most recent SMS data or tap 'Select Another Backup" to restore a different backup data. Tap the Restore button at the bottom of the page to continue.
Step 4: The app would display a prompt requesting to be your default SMS app, temporarily. Tap OK to continue.
Step 5: Tap Yes to make the 'SMS Backup & Restore' app your default messaging app.
Step 6: The SMS restoration process would commence, and when done, tap the Close button to proceed.
Step 7: The app will prompt you to change your default message app to the official Android Messages app via a pop-up. Tap OK.
Step 8: Go back to your home screen or your app tray and launch the Messages app.
Step 9: Tap 'Set As Default' to set the Messages app as default.
Step 10: A prompt informing you that the 'SMS Backup & Restore' app would no longer be your default SMS app would pop-up. Tap Yes to continue.
Step 11: Do that and deleted SMS text messages would begin to roll in as new messages to your phone's notification panel. The restored messages can also be accessed in the Messages app.
Note that you'd typically have to wait for about 15 minutes to an hour for restored messages to reappear in the Messages app. All that entirely depends on the volume of messages in the backup.
Note: You can only restore messages using the 'SMS Backup & Restore' app if you had previously created a backup to your Google Drive on the app. Also, this app doesn't support the backup of Android RCS messages.
Therefore I recommend that you set a schedule for (daily, weekly, or hourly) automatic and recurring SMS backup on the app.
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Never Lose Your Messages
Losing important SMS text messages can get really painful. Do you know what's even more painful? Not being able to recover those messages. The methods above guarantee the safety of your Android messages. Also, it hands you the opportunity to restore text messages should they get lost or missing.
Next up: Is the Messages app crashing on your Android phone? Are you unable to send texts due to the closing of the Messages by Google? Learn how to fix the problem in the article linked below.