How to keep Android SMS safe and synced

14 October 2013

As phone reviewers, the WhislteOut team changes phones every couple of weeks, and while all of this switching may sound difficult to manage, it is remarkably simple thanks to the cloud storage options built into most new phones.

The big exception to this is SMS messages in Android. While contacts, calendar, emails and photos are all synced with a Google account, SMS is overlooked, but we have found a few ways to work around this.

Switch the default SMS app to mySMS

mySMS (Play Store Link) is an app that does exactly what Android should be doing, in our opinion. All of your text messages are backed up to the cloud, so that if you need to switch phones, all you need to do is re-download the mySMS app and all your old messages will be restored.

The only part of this change that may confuse some people is that mySMS will actually replace the standard SMS app on your phone, so after it is installed you will have two separate places where you can read SMS messages. To remind yourself to use mySMS, just replace the Messaging shortcut on your home screen with the mySMS shortcut.

While it offers iMessage like functionality to Android users, mySMS has a few other compelling features too:

  • You can access and use your account on a number of different devices, including desktop computers. It keeps all devices in sync.
  • If you have friends also using mySMS then it automatically sends messages over the web, rather than spending your texting credit from your carrier.
  • You can easily customise the look and feel of the app with a selection of installable themes and the option to set the wallpaper image behind your messages.

Oh, and did we mention it is free to use?

Back those bits up

If you'd prefer to continue using the default SMS app, you do have the option to just back up your SMS data somehow. There are plenty of apps on the Play Store that can back up your messages, many do it along with full system backups, which can be handy but time-consuming.

One app that just backs up SMS message is the aptly named SMS Backup & Restore (Play Store Link). It coverts your SMS conversations to XML data, which you can save locally on the phone or a microSD card, or you can install an Add-On to sync the XML file with a Dropbox account or Google Drive.

The beauty of backing up SMS into XML is that you make the messages readable by a number of other commonly used programs. Natively, SMS is encoded in a way that makes them impossible to read other than on a phone. This process makes them easier to access.

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