Backup Your Text Messages on Android with These 5 Tools

If there’s one major area where Android hasn’t quite caught up to iOS, it’s user backups. While iOS uses iCloud to natively sync most of your phone’s data online, a majority of Android devices don’t offer the same native service. Some do, including Google’s own Pixel devices, which sync natively with Google Drive once you’ve signed into your Google account. But if you’re using any number of third-party Android devices, including those developed by Samsung, you’re often left on your own in order to manage your texts. And of course, even phones that offer their own proprietary backup service often leave you without the ability to restore texts if you switch to a different manufacturer’s Android device. If you decide the Galaxy S9 isn’t for you and you’d rather have a Google Pixel 2 XL or the new LG G7, you’re going to find Samsung’s backup tool useless on your new device.

So, instead, most people turn to using backup services from the Play Store, thanks primarily to their versatility and reliability between phone models. Some of the most popular backup applications have been around since the days of Android 2.1 Froyo, and yet, still receive updates to this day. They also tend to backup their files in open file formats, like XML, to allow you to easily transfer and save them on different devices in order to keep them safe and secure. Not every message backup service is perfect; to this day, it’s still possible to lose text messages on your devices if you fail to properly backup your content. But for most users, you’ll likely find that backing up your SMS messages with a third-party service from the Play Store is the route to go if you’re interested in keeping messages from your significant other or your family members for as long as possible.

If you’re looking for some of the best text message backup apps on the Play Store, it can be tough. There are a ton of backup applications on the Play Store today, and finding the right one for you and your phone takes a lot of work. Some backup apps haven’t changed their design since the early days of Android. Other apps use newer styles of design, but haven’t been updated since 2016 or earlier, leaving them difficult to use on newer versions of Android like Android Nougat and Oreo. Don’t let bad backup apps cause you to lose your messages: make sure you’re using a trusted backup app by looking at the five apps we have below. We tested each of these on a Pixel 2 XL, meaning each app has been proven to be up to date and worthy of installing on your device. These are our favorite—and trusted—backup apps for Android.

Everyone else

Unlike the previous two apps on this list, Super Backup & Restore is designed around backing up all the content on your phone, not just SMS messages or call logs. For some, this might make Super Backup a one-stop shop for all your backup needs, including the ability to offload your installed apps, contacts, calendar appointments, photos, and more. The app syncs directly with Google Drive, logging you in using a shortcut on the main display of the app and making it easy to download files from Drive directly within the app. Super Backup’s main display also gives you information on how much storage is left in your phone, both used and free, making it easy to see what you need to offload and what you can keep on your device.

Generally speaking, the app seems to work well. SMS backup works well, saving the files in an XML file format just like SMS Backup & Restore. You can also choose to backup specific conversation threads instead of choosing to backup your message thread, though it’s worth noting that you can’t backup group messages or any other MMS content. This puts it a step behind both SMS Backup & Restore and SMS Backup+, the former of which can backup and restore MMS messages with ease and the latter of which can backup but not restore. However, because the app doesn’t bother with MMS messages, you’ll likely find that your backups take almost no time to backup. A full backup of nearly 20,000 SMS messages in our test took just three seconds, and sending the file to Google Drive took just a second more. The app also has support for sharing the file with any Android app, which means you can backup your XML file to the cloud service of your choice.

Having the ability to backup your apps and other services is nice as well, even if most of that stuff is handled better by letting Android do it for you. Your calendar appointments, for example, automatically sync with Google Calendar in the background, making it a weird choice to use to backup your dates unless you’re only using a local calendar app. Likewise, your contacts and photos also sync with Google’s own services (Contacts and Photos, respectively), and both of those options are free and easy to use. The app also includes a call recorder, but frankly, this seems more like an add-on utility than something that has been well-built and placed within the app with real reason.

The overall visual design of Super Backup leaves something to be desired as well; it’s not bad, but there’s something about the app that feels relatively bland and docile. Using the app is easy, but the grid-style of the app’s layout and the abundance of icons in the top of the display make it difficult to know what you’re doing and when you’re doing it. It’s also worth noting that nearly every action in the game gives you a full-screen ad, with a banner ad sitting at the bottom of the main page at all times. At the end of the day, Super Backup & Restore is perfect if you’re looking for an application to give you full control over your phone’s backups, but the SMS backup service isn’t as good as its competition, and the rest of the backup services provided by the app are largely taken care of by Android and Google.

In theory, Backup is a fantastic application, a modern backup app with some serious appeal in 2018. The visual design of the app is fairly clean, using a navy blue-on-white theme that looks good. The app can easily backup your messages (with encryption!) and your call logs, with options to backup your WiFi passwords and your Bluetooth devices as well (we’ll talk more about that in a moment). The app even has a built-in application manager, allowing you to backup your apps automatically, and making it easy to keep your app data safe and secure. The app has support for backing up your saved files to Dropbox and Google Drive, with the ability to tap on the “Others” option to auto-backup to any other app in Android’s “Share” menu. Basically, at first glance, it seems like Backup is the perfect app for anyone looking to backup their content easily.

There are a few catches to the app, however. The app uses its own file format to backup your messages, thanks to the encryption placed on the file. Encrypting your backups is great for security, making it one of the few apps we’ve seen able to do that. However, this creates a problem. Unlike the other backup apps on this list, the free version of Backup takes its time encrypting and backing up your files, which means each message takes a half-second or more to save . If you have tens of thousands of messages to backup, this means you’re going to be waiting for a while to backup your content. For someone with 16,000 messages to backup, using this app to save your messages will take over two hours at half a second per message. That’s an incredibly long backup time, especially when compared to the other apps on this list. However, the trade off is obvious: you gain encryption on your backed up files. If this is important to you, you’ll want to put up with the time constraint.

Speaking of trade offs, you probably shouldn’t get too excited about the options to backup your Bluetooth and WiFi passwords. You’ll need to upgrade to the Pro version of the app (which speeds up backup, another downside to using the free version of the app), and adds the ability to save your Bluetooth devices and WiFi passwords. Unfortunately, dropping $2 on the upgrade isn’t the only requirement for those features (otherwise, we’d happily accept the low cost upgrade to improve the app). You’ll also need to be on a rooted device, something that is not just becoming more difficult to do these days, but that opens up all sorts of security concerns with your phone during day-to-day use. In 2018, the market for rooting is becoming smaller than ever, thanks to improvements at the core of Android and a lack of real reasons to go through the hassle of performing root. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something to consider before you upgrade to the pro version.

None of this makes Backup a bad app of course. You can hide the root-only options within the settings menu so that your device isn’t constantly displaying the ability to perform actions it can’t. Similarly, the visual design allows you to force using the Roboto font, so that your app can always look consistent with stock Android. The app is also early in development; it’s only surpassed 10,000 downloads, which means there’s plenty of room here to grow. If you’re looking for an app that features full encryption on its backup files, Backup is the perfect app for you—so long as you’re willing to pay for it.

In all honesty, the biggest problem with relying on Google Drive to backup your SMS messages is that it only works with the Pixel and Pixel 2 lines of devices, along with any Nexus device running Android 6.0 or higher. This really limits the amount of people who can use Google Drive as their trusted backup application on their phone to just a handful of overall Android users, which makes it difficult to recommend. If you are one of those lucky users, however, your Pixel device already comes with a full backup suite on your device that allows you to backup your SMS messages, call log, app data, and so much more right to the cloud automatically, anytime you plug your phone into the wall while connected to WiFi.

That said, the obvious negatives are here as well. First and foremost: the system really only works if you’re using one of two phone models running a specific version of Android. On its own, that’s enough to limit Google Drive’s backup utility from being good for backing up SMS apps. Second, Drive’s SMS backup doesn’t include MMS messages, so if you’re looking to backup group texts, photos, and more, Drive is not the option for you. Finally, users on the Google Pixel subreddit have come to determine that Drive only saves a specific amount of texts to your account. After 25MB of data, Google Drive will begin erasing backups of older texts, so if you’re looking to save your entire library to your Drive account, you might want to look elsewhere for your backup needs. Considering that SMS Backup & Restore will save your backups to Drive automatically, that might be the better option than relying on Google’s servers alone.

3 thoughts on “Backup Your Text Messages on Android with These 5 Tools”

Avatar william says:
I’ve had SMS Backup+ for some time with total satisfaction. The problem now (December 2019) is it does not work anymore due to a ‘ dispute ‘ with the people from Google.
Avatar Chris Maxwell says:
SMS Backup & Restore UNFORTUNATELY has a NULL for the sender name or phone number! So when you’re reading back into the past … you can’t see who sent which message in a multi user message thread.
Avatar mark says:
has anyone tried the SMS Backup for Multiple Smartphones App… does it realy work with multiple smartphones if so Please share your experiences.

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