How Long Are Text Messages Stored On An Android Phone?

Contrary to popular belief, your Android phone actually has little to do with how long the text messages you send and receive from it are stored for. This is, in fact, up to your service provider (cell provider). Depending on who you’re with – Horizon, AT&T, Vodafone, T-Mobile, O2, etc. – your text messages will be saved for a varying amount of time.

Generally speaking, 18 months to 2 years (24 months) is about the average length of time text messages are stored on your Android phone, though some companies will store texts for much longer. 

After this point, they will be deleted permanently and will be irrecoverable without special permission from the service provider. The only thing which will remain past this window of time will be any MMS messages sent (including photos and videos).

Here is a list of popular cell phone providers and the length of time they store text messages on your Android phone for:

  • AT&T – 5-7 years
  • Sprint – 18 months
  • T-Mobile – up to 5 years
  • Vodafone – 2 years

If you need any more information, or have any further questions, pertaining to the topic of Android phones and text message storage, see our FAQ section below. Thanks for reading!


Where are text messages stored on an Android phone?

Text messages (also called SMS) are exchanged by the billions on a daily basis all around the world. Our text conversations can be intimate, funny, charming, cute, they can be professional and contain important work information, or they can be very personal and contain messages you want to save and savor forever.

Thus, many of you are quite understandably here wondering whether text messages are saved on your Android phone, and if so, for how long and where. The answer to the latter is what we’re tackling with this FAQ.

Text messages are saved in two locations on an Android phone. First and foremost, they are stored in your Messages app – which is what you use to send and receive SMS text messages. Secondly, they may be stored in Google Drive as part of the backup created on a regular basis by your phone, depending on your settings.

To learn how long text messages are stored on your Android phone, read the full article from the top of this page.

Are text messages backed-up to Google Drive or OneDrive?

Depending on the settings you have as default, text messages may or may not be saved in a backup file on Google Drive or OneDrive (depending on your preferred backup cloud service). However if you have set your Android device to regularly back up your phone to one of these cloud services, then thankfully yes: your text messages will be backed-up to Google Drive or OneDrive.

This means that should you lose your phone, break it, or get a new one, you’ll be able to restore your all-important text conversations once you receive a new device, just by signing into your OneDrive or Google account, navigating to the saved backup file, and hitting ‘restore’.

Having said this, one thing which doesn’t change is how far back your text conversations are going to go. In other words, how long text messages are stored remains the same, as per your cell provider. If, for example, your cell provider stores text messages on your phone for 2 years, then your backup will only ever retain up to 2 years of texts, even if its been regularly backing up your phone for longer than that.

Can I recover old deleted text messages on an Android phone?

Unfortunately you cannot recover old or deleted text messages on an Android device unless they were backed-up to a cloud server within the timeframe which your service provider retains text messages for.