Preserve messages for court

If you expect you’ll need to use text messages in a lawsuit, the law generally obliges you to avoid deleting relevant messages. The easiest way to do this is, first, not to delete any messages and second, get a backup copy off the phone.

Both iPhone and Android can auto-delete messages. On iPhone, this can be found in settings for messages. On Android, the precise location varies depending on Android version, brand of phone, and which messaging app you use.

Note

Most Android phones auto-delete messages out of the box, so you may be deleting old messages and not even know it.

Disable auto-deletion on Android

The setting to auto-delete text messages has moved around in different Android versions, and different manufacturers like to customize where it appears as well. Usually, however, you can find it thus:

  1. Open the text messaging app
  2. Go to the app menu -> settings
  3. Look around for an option called Delete old messages. It might be in top-level settings or buried in a submenu.

Make a copy you won’t lose

So you’ve turned off message auto-deletion, but what if you lose or damage your phone? Both Apple and Google provide free backup; Apple’s iCloud backup is sufficient for many people but Google’s backup is extremely limited. A good backup copy, therefore, is much harder to make on Android than iPhone.

Many phones do not even attempt to back up text messages to Google. Even for those that do, most people easily overrun the amount of storage Google allows.

Note

Recent Samsung phones include a “Samsung Cloud” backup feature to replace Google’s limited backup. It provides more storage than Google’s and does back up text messages, but can only be restored to other recent Samsung phones.

Users may reservations about security, however, as Samsung does not even bother to encrypt the Samsung Cloud login page.

So backup on Android looks bleak, but fear not. Although Text Collector isn’t a backup program, it can preserve text messages.

Simply making a collection is free and creates a frozen copy that you can export later. There is, however, an important caveat: this copy is still on the device, so it will be lost if you lose or damage your phone, just like the originals. It’s best to export the messages and keep the copy in a safe place till you need it.

Disclaimer

I am not a lawyer, don’t consider this to be legal advice.