How To Recover Deleted Messages on the iPhone

What if you realized you really needed to see or reference an old post after already deleting it? Whether there were some important links in the post, some photos you didn’t save, or some other stuff, you might think you’re out of luck.

When you want to delete a message or conversation on your iPhone, it doesn’t get deleted right away (similar to how your photos aren’t completely deleted right away). Instead, your messages are only marked for deletion, leaving them inaccessible and invisible to us.

The deleted texts are still on our phones for a short time until the files are permanently deleted. Now that you know a little more about what happens when you delete a message, let’s take a look at the ways to get them back.

Recover texts on an iPhone

Your ability to recover deleted messages is highly dependent on a number of factors, from the time frame you deleted them to the backups you’ve made in the past. It may or may not be possible to recover those messages or their contents.

Restore messages from an iCloud backup

One of the first things you should try is to restore your messages from an iCloud backup. The only downside to this is that you have to factory reset your device and then restore it.

To avoid losing other important data on your phone, make sure your messages are backed up to iCloud first. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Settings on your iPhone and tap your name at the top.
  2. Then tap iCloud.
  3. Check that the toggle switch next to Messages is on.

If your messages are stored in a recent backup, you will see the amount in Gigabytes below the Storage management choice.

After verifying that your messages are stored in the cloud, you can proceed with resetting your device. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Settings on your iPhone and tap General.
  2. Scroll down and tap Reset.
  3. Tap Clear all content and settings.
  4. Once your phone is wiped, it will turn off and then turn it back on. Follow the prompts and connect it to WiFi. Select the option to Restore from iCloud backup.

You will then need to log in with your Apple ID and password.

Disclaimer: Before doing a factory reset, make sure your data is backed up to avoid losing any more important information. Also check if you can sign in to your Apple account to avoid being locked out.

Restore messages from an iTunes backup

Restore backup

If your carrier doesn’t support messaging backup, or if it didn’t work for you for some reason, this is the next method you should try. Again, this will only work if your messages are backed up. This basically works as if you were recovering lost data from an iTunes backup.

  1. Connect your phone to your computer and wait for iTunes to appear or bring it up manually yourself.
  2. You’ll see your phone in the box in the bar at the top of iTunes, and clicking it will take you to your phone’s information page.
  3. From here just select Restore backup. It should bring your phone back to how it was when you last backed it up.

Check your other Apple devices

If all your messages are gone from one device, they may still be available on another device. Check all macOS devices, tablets, or other phones for missing messages.

Apple’s phenomenal integration setup allows your missing messages to be on another device. Even an older one. If they are there, back them up to iCloud or iTunes to restore them later.

Using recovery software

If you’ve tried the above methods and still haven’t recovered your messages, there’s one more thing you can try. A simple Google search reveals multiple websites claiming to recover deleted messages, photos, and other data. However, this is a “buyer beware” recommendation.

It’s a good idea to check online reviews for the different options in this space until you find one that works for you. Some of these can cost you a few bucks, so be sure to do your research and use the one you consider most reliable. Even if the apps are reliable and will work for most, that’s no guarantee they will work for you.

Hopefully, if you give these methods a try, at least one of them will help you save your deleted messages. If not, there’s nothing you can do but use it as a lesson to examine messages on your phone before accurately deleting them.

Data recovery services require access to all data, files and information on your device. This means that you expose yourself to a number of security risks when using these services. Another thing to consider is that some data recovery services charge but may not deliver. Fortunately, we tried out these services and put together our list of recommendations here.

When you find the right service (and we recommend that you research it before using it), you probably need a computer (Mac or PC) to run the software. The service recovers any small pieces of data left over after deletion and presents the information in downloadable files. Assuming your messages are still stored somewhere in your phone’s memory, these services will be successful.

Frequently Asked Questions

This section answers more of your questions about recovering deleted messages.

Can I get my text messages from my mobile operator?

Not in most cases. And there’s a good reason for that. While your provider will likely store your messages somewhere on a server if they’re ever needed by law enforcement, most employees don’t have access to them. Your text messages are your private messages and therefore it is unlikely that anyone will have access to them, not even someone who works for a cell phone provider.

Based on experience, there isn’t even an ability in the agent’s system to view, let alone send, text messages to you. However, in some cases, you may receive your text messages through a subpoena and court hearing.

Are deleted messages permanently gone?

In most cases yes. If you delete your messages and there is no backup, your messages are definitely gone for regular, everyday users. But in some situations, they can be recovered by the police or other agency.

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