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