Retrieve Deleted Text Messages

I’m going to preface this guide on retrieving deleted text messages with a little disclaimer. Two in fact.

First of all if you get your ass kicked for trying to spy on your wife’s phone or something that’s on you. Our goal is to get a good recover rate locally on our test phones and pass our grade. Not help you spy on your wife, K? Look into the legality of that kind of thing you’re allowed to spy on kids and employees to some extent but again – check your local laws.

Secondly we can’t guarantee that you can recover your deleted text at all. If you have a newer phone like an iPhone 5 or a Galaxy S4 then there’s a good chance. Even a model a couple of years older and you can still recover messages from months ago. Phones a few years older you’re maybe looking a few weeks. But it’s basically down to luck. The more you use your phone, the higher the chance you won’t be able to recover the deleted message. Don’t tell your boss that you bet your job you can get that message back. You probably can, but don’t make any promises until you’re actually looking at the message. And even then make a backup.

Why Can You Retrieve Deleted Messages?

The why is actually pretty simple. Again, it’s a case of recent smart phones borrowing technology and methods from common computers. When your PC deletes a file, it doesn’t bother rewriting all the 1′s to 0′s. It just leaves them on the hard drive and ignores them to save time. So while your phone pretending the deleted text message works to keep it running smoothly, it works even better for us when we want to recover them. Because the SMS is still there and we have local access to the phone, we can get to it.

Just remember the warning I gave you, the more you use the phone the higher the chance you use that data for something else and there’s no comeback after that. I’ve yet to see anything bring back data after it’s been overwritten because it’s physically impossible the data just isn’t there any more.

How to Retrieve Deleted Texts

So we know it’s possible but how do we actually do it?

Well technically you can do it yourself with a low level data editor and a lot of time on your hands. If you know what you’re looking for you can crawl through the memory on your phone and find the old messages yourself. But this will take a long time, it’s boring, has a high chance of you missing something and it takes work and technical skill. Luckily we’re not about making your life harder. We built a few small apps to automate some of the process but nothing we made matches what is already available online or free (not yet anyway). So if you really want to recover old deleted text messages we suggest using software which will do it for you.

I won’t bother suggesting our own but I can’t not suggest the main one we ended up using. We thought we’d work in a bit of a comparison but the TextRar.com software and guides on how to retrieve deleted text messages were a clear winner. Plug the phone in and hit start. Simple and it has a great recovery rate for deleted messages.

Clearing Deleted Text Messages

Similar to the way a Windows PC runs, the modern day smart phone isn’t great at keeping its own memory clear. Those deleted text messages are clogging up the memory on your phone and while the phone knows it can overwrite them it has to change that gaggled mix of 1′s and 0′s before it can do anything. Similar to the reasons for a computer defragging – your phone is going to move slower because it has to deal with this extra processing and has less readily available memory to work with.

This is something both Android and iOS have improved as iterations have came along, although occasionally a third party text messaging app has thrown a spanner in the works there. And to be honest I’m one of those people who think that even when a phone is running slow you won’t really notice a lot of difference. A phone isn’t really put under much pressure to process a lot of data very quickly. Not to the same extent a computer is. But if you want to keep your phone running as quickly and possible and really min max your performance… then still don’t waste time doing it.

There are apps out there which can run a defrag but, apart from damaging the cycles on your drive, it won’t do much. You might notice a very, very slight performance increase but it won’t be noticeable or worthwhile. Part of our goal was to track the performance difference in the way that deleted text messages being left on the memory was affecting the performance of modern smart phones. Our short answer was it basically didn’t. Not to any noticeable level, especially with everyday normal use.

That said, because the idea of defragging a Windows computer is so built into what we think we should be doing the defrag apps that are out there are becoming increasingly popular without any real evidence that they work at all.