Backing up SMS on Android

2018-03-27 Author’s note: Android is now so locked down that this method no longer works. Sucks to be us.

I need to keep backups of SMS history for legal reasons. The longer this volume of text message history grew, the more nervous I was getting about a phone catastrophe losing it all. In this post I’ll cover how to backup these messages.

If you do some googling, you’ll find 100 different assholes on 100 different forums trying to push 100 different shitty apps. I don’t want a shitty app.

  1. Turn on debugging mode on your device
  2. Enable root access for adb
  3. adb root
  4. adb pull /data/data/com.android.providers.telephony/databases

Boom. That’s it. No stupid app needed.

The .db files are SQLite databases. Use sqlite3 or sqlitebrowser to poke around. The sms table will be of particular interest. The schemata are pretty easy to understand.

I may write a post later on how to pull a useful representation of your message history out.

UPDATE I have written that post.