Automatically backup text messages to Gmail with SMS Backup

Sit with me and envision the following scenario:

You’re out enjoying drinks with a few friends and as the night matures you become increasingly immature. (not to mention inebriated)

You and your squad order a basket of hot wings then you dash to the restroom to relieve yourself.  But by the time you return, the guys have virtually decimated the wings like a kettle of vultures.

Staring into the messy bucket of bones with despair, you begin to rue the decision to pee.

With a crestfallen countenance you express your frustration:

Geez, guys you could have saved me at least one!

Everyone chuckles in unison and packs up to leave.

Famished and vexed, you catch a cab home but when you unload your wallet and keys you realize your phone is missing.

Shit.

Suddenly you have a lurid memory of leaving your phone on the urinal.

Now what?  All your text messages were on that phone.  Some even go back a few years but now it’s all gone.

If only you had your text messages backed up to Gmail, you could retrieve them from the web, search through the history and transfer them to your new phone.

Ahhh

How to backup your text messages

It’s so easy to backup your SMS messages to a Gmail account that you may spontaneously break into an effusion of praise when I show you how to pull this off.

Don’t let your fear of breaking something occult your ability to backup your texts messages.  We’re going to use an app called SMS Backup+ to backup your SMS, MMS and even call logs to Gmail.

The first thing you should do is sign into Gmail and make sure IMAP Access is enabled.

Just click the little Gear icon in the top right corner of the screen, choose Settings then pick the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab along the top option bar.  Scroll down to IMAP access and confirm IMAP is enabled.

Confirm IMAP is enabled in Gmail

IMAP is simply a standard means of downloading emails but today we’re going to exercise the versatility of IMAP by using it to send text messages to Gmail.

Okay, now for the fun part.

Download and install SMS Backup+ from the Google Play store, tap open the app and touch Connect.  We need to enter your Gmail username and password so SMS Backup+ can communicate with Google.

Using SMS Backup+ on your Galaxy S4

Fortunately, SMS Backup isn’t as officious as some other apps who want to stick their slimy fingers into every orifice of your phone.  SMS Backup+ is cordial and just needs permission to view and manage your mail.

The cute little icon below makes it look my face is about to fuse with Gmail.  Almost like some kind of digital, cellular fertilization… okay – ahem where was I?

I digress.  This post is degrading so let me get back on track.

SMS Backup requesting permissions on your phone

After touching OK, the SMS Backup will ask you to either backup all your messages now or later.  There’s no reason to skip for later so touch Backup.

Backup the text messages on your Galaxy S4

The app immediately logs into your Gmail account and starts backing up your SMS messages.

You can see I have a little over one thousand messages; however, you don’t have to wait until the end before you see the backups in Gmail.

Backing up your SMS messages with SMS Backup Plus

You can actually refresh your Gmail account right now to see the messages popping in.  You don’t have to wait for the app to finish. You should already see a few messages under a new label called SMS.

Viewing SMS Text Messages in Gmail

Now you can search through all your texts just like normal emails.

Excellent.

Enable Auto Backup

Now we just need to tell SMS Backup+ to automatically backup your SMS messages.  We should also change the backup interval from the default 2 hour mark.

Back in the app, tap on Auto Backup then tap Auto backup settings.

Next, if you touch Regular schedule you can change the backup interval to a few different presets.

Change the Galaxy S4 Backup Schedule

And if you’re backing up frequently, I would check on the Require Wi-fi option so you don’t unwittingly kill your data plan.

SMS Backup+ Require WiFi is a must

Tweaking the app

If you go back to the main SMS Backup+ screen (on the Galaxy S4, you can tap the bottom right corner of the phone to go back), we can really customize the app to meet our specifications.

Let me show you what I’m talking about:

Go ahead and touch Advanced Settings.

Samsung Galaxy S4 SMS Backup+ Advanced Settings

Touch the first option: Backup Settings on the next screen, then let the fun begin.

You can tell SMS Backup to only backup certain message types while ignoring others.

So, for example, I can restrict backups to just my non-multimedia text messages (Backup SMS); or I can backup the whole shebang.

Galaxy S4 SMS Backup Change Backup Settings

Furthermore, under the Call log settings option, I can also:

  • Change the Gmail labels assigned to calls
  • Tell SMS Backup+ to only backup specific call types.  In other words, I can have it only backup Missed calls but leave everything else alone.
  • Automatically add the call log entries to my Gmail calendar.

It’s all there.

One more thing: if you go back to the Advanced Settings screen and tap Restore settings, you can tell SMS Backup+ to only restore the messages that you explicitly Star in Gmail.

This is great because it allows you to fine tune exactly what gets sent to your new phone when you’re retrieving those backups.

Galaxy S4 SMS Backup+ Restore Starred items

Okay, now let’s revisit the scenario I had you imagine in the beginning.

Now that you have SMS Backup+ on your new phone, you’re prepared for anything.

The newer, smarter you

You walk into your favorite pub but the ditch the friends who dogged your wings last week.  Now, you’re gunning it solo and enjoying the night.

After gulping a few beers, you stumble to the bar tender and request another shot, but much to your dismay, the dubious bar tender refuses to comply.

Annoyed, you totter into the street and hike the ten block odyssey back home.

After dumping your jacket on the sofa and tossing your keys on the night stand you have another “oh shit” moment.

Yes, you left your new phone at the bar again but a subtle smile stretches across your face when you realize all your text messages are safe.

You pop open Gmail on your Mac, (why are you using a Mac by the way?) browse your inbox and are able to search through all your text messages.  Even the MMS messages with photo and video attachments that your ex-girl friend sent you are there.

Thanks to SMS Backup+!

The Bottom Line

The next time you decide to get a new phone, install SMS Backup+ on your old phone first.  It’s the de-facto Android app for backing up and restoring SMS Messages.

I love this app and I hope you do too!  Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.

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  • emi chang

    Coolmuster Android Assistant could help you move android phone data to computer easily, like sms, contacts, photos,music, apps, etc. just have a try!

  • Shai Solomon

    What about iPhone? Is there a solution for iPhone users?

    • EM1336

      Solutions for iPhone users:

      If you need to extract texts and call logs off your iPhone, you can use one of the photo-snagging apps such as my favorite one, iMazing. With this app, you can access your iOS file system to snag your photos, texts, call logs, and other data off your iPhone. (Note: If you crave even deeper access into the file system and this iPhone is one that you feel safe to hack around with, you can jailbreak the phone, which is legal to do so in the USA, at least for now. You might want to check out another app called iFunbox for spelunking the raw file system.) iMazing runs on either Windows or OS X, and can export SMS or MMS conversations as TXT, CSV, and PDF. You can also pull out your MMS attachments separately. For example, you can go into an MMS conversation on your iPhone and extract all of the photos and videos onto your PC’s hard drive.

      However, I don’t think iMazing can actually restore SMS and MMS messages back onto your iPhone… …I could be wrong, but I haven’t seen an “SMS Restore” button yet. I’m a neat freak and I like my phone to run super fast, so I simply take the texts, photos, and videos off my iPhone every few months, back them up onto an external hard drive, and never restore them. As such, iMazing is all I will ever need. If you’re one of those folks who likes to backup 15,000 texts and restore them at some future point, you probably need something like, in no particular order:

      Macroplant’s iExplorer (OS X or Windows),
      Wide Angle Software’s TouchCopy (OS X or Windows),
      FonePaw’s iOS Transfer (OS X or Windows),
      WindSolutions’ CopyTrans (apparently Windows only),
      Ecamm’s PhoneView (apparently OS X only).

      Download free trials and try each one out – see which one suits you best.

      Supposedly, if you back up your iPhone locally, your text messages will exist on your PC or Mac in a special file with the extension “.mddata”, encoded in a format called SQLite. Do you need iTunes to create this file? I couldn’t find this file on my PC in the location where it is supposed to exist. I don’t use iTunes, so that could be why. Maybe you will have more luck.

  • Sherri Barker

    I did back it up. And it is in my gmail, but will not transfer back to my phone. AT&T even had my phone for 3 hours trying 🙁 I am so upset. Any ideas???

    • Walter Jnr

      The app is not in development anymore it seems. The solution to your problem, however, is reasonably simple but requires a rooted phone. In Settings -> Privacy -> Privacy Guard -> Click top right and click advanced -> Scroll right to Messaging -> Scroll to SMS Backup + -> Set “Receive SMS” permission to allowed. By default it seems that permission is set to denied for Kit Kat.

  • Itza Munoz

    Does this app works for iphone?

  • Help!! I’ve use this app several times in the past and never had a problem… until now. I have three text conversations I need backed up and those are the only three it ISN’T backing up to email? I’ve checked all the settings and can’t figure out what the problem is. Help?? Thanks!

  • Nvupaann

    Backup samsung messages is very easy with help of Coolmuster Samsung Messages Backup software.Using it you can also manage android phone data on computer.This is professional data backup tool.

  • Shel Pittman

    It seemed to have backed up all of my outgoing messages (sent by me) but nothing incoming (received). Any ideas what happened and how I can back up the entire conversation – not just my side? Thanks!

  • Lisa White

    Well, to keep our text messages on the mobile phone safer, you can also backup them to computer, and we can use Coolmuster Android Assistant to move them to computer easily.

  • Bob from Apple Valley, Mn

    If I delete messages from my gmail account will it feed back to my Samsung and delete those as well?
    Thanks in advance

  • Cynthia Dickey

    ORRRRR…you can save this confusion & take a nano second & save each text of your choosing & forward it to your email account as soon as you read the text. ORRRRR…get gcloud & save them automatically!
    What this guy is having you do is tedious!

  • rANA

    HARAMIO KOI ASAN TAREEQA NI HY JIS K PASS ANDROID MOBILE NA HO WO KYA KARY

  • Arif Saifi

    not able to take whatsapp chat auto backup on gmail
    kindly suggest…

  • Lakersfan4life32

    I’ve used this app for years. I don’t think it’s up-to-date. I’ve sent several emails to the developer and receive no response.

  • lea

    if you accidently deleted a text when there were already backed up, can you still view them in your gmail account?

  • kid red

    I don’t want to backup all my sms, just a very few select messages. I’m not seeing how to do this.

  • Haley Plumley

    I was reading somewhere that you can see them in your gmail as it’s backing them up. However, when I go into my gmail, i’m only seeing old ones that were already there. Will they all pull in when it’s completed?

  • Uncommunist

    This 80 step process works really – If you have 5 hours with nothing to do …. and of course the connection doesn’t time out.

  • Elana Bryan

    I uninstalled the app the other day trying to fix something and when I went back to the play store to get it, it was gone! Argh! any ideas as to where I can get this app back?

  • Xkoiul

    Backup your data to gmail is a good way, you can also use professional transfer tool like MobiKin Assistant for Android to help you backup your Android data to pc and manage them freely.

  • Pavan Kalyan

    i am unable to see backup WhatsApp option in sms backup +

  • LaraCharlotte

    To backup your iPhone SMS, one of the most important thing is to export iPhone text messages.
    In order to do so, you may need to get the iPhone Transfer.

  • renna

    Google account doesn’t allow me to sync texts. I need a data backup tool to directly backup text messages from phone to pc. I have been using MobiKin Assistant for Android for a long time, I use it to transfer text messages, contacts, photos, videos from my phone to pc directly.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fbdb4d3f9891822381f85709746d551f4b1b2b21697eb83789e79c35db659301.jpg

  • Jm Loy

    Your instructions were impecable!!! Thank you so much. You did better than the ______for dummies series!! Lol!

  • Roopa Paru

    IT WILL NOT GET BACK UP AUTOMATICALLY ,,WHENEVER WE PRESS BACK UP OPTION THEN ONLY I WILL GET BACK UP