Many of us use Messages to store pictures and information from our acquaintances, work, or friends. Given how important those messages can be, it’s surprisingly trivial to delete messages and lose that critical information. Unfortunately, if you don’t have your phone set to back information up, it’s difficult to recover information.

Hi, I’m Aaron. I work in information security and technology, so data backups are top of mind. For critical personal data, I always suggest the 3-2-1 method: 3 copies of critical data on 2 different storage media with 1 in some other location. Nothing works better to keep your data safe and available. 

In this article, I’ll cover what you can do to recover deleted messages off your iPhone. I’ll also make suggestions for how you can preserve messages long-term going forward. 

Key Takeaways

  • iOS 16 lets you recover deleted messages for 30 days. 
  • You can also use data recovery tools for iPhones to try to recover messages, but recovery isn’t guaranteed. 
  • Implementing a backup like iCloud or iTunes sync will help with future recovery efforts. 

How to Recover Deleted Messages on iPhone

There are a few ways to recover deleted messages and you’re likely using one or more of them. If not, then the recommendation section will address how to enable those. If your iPhone or iPad is updated to iOS 16 and iPadOS 16.1, respectively, then…

Method 1: Recover Recently Deleted Messages

Modern versions of iOS and iPadOS allow you to recover deleted messages and conversations within 30 days of deleting them. If you find yourself in this situation, then recovery is a breeze. 

Step 1: tap the Messages icon.

Step 2: tap Edit.

Step 3: tap Show Recently Deleted.

Step 4: tap the button next to the conversation you want to restore and then tap Recover All.

If you’re on an older version of iOS or iPadOS, or it’s been longer than 30 days since you deleted the conversation, then…

Method 2: iPhone Recovery Software

Third-party iPhone recovery software is your last chance at recovery if you aren’t otherwise able to recover data from your iPhone. When picking software, make sure you’re picking well-reviewed and reputable software with a good return policy in case it doesn’t meet your needs. 

How to Back up Your iPhone Messages

The next best thing to recover messages through a safety measure or unsupported and uncertain software is to back up your device. If you do, these are additional free options for recovery. Starting with…

Check iCloud

If you have your iPhone or iPad configured to back up messages to your iCloud account, you may be able to find them there. That’s not guaranteed if your message is deleted from iCloud. 

If your Messages app isn’t configured to backup to iCloud, you should set that up. To do so…

Step 1: tap the Settings icon. 

Step 2: click on your name in Settings.

Step 3: tap Show All.

Step 4: turn Messages on.

Now your messages will be backed up to your iCloud. If you previously hadn’t backed up messages to iCloud, you can check…

Check Computer Backup

If you’ve backed up your iPhone or iPad to your PC via iTunes or your Mac via Finder, then you’ll be able to access backups that could have the messages you’re looking for. If you make frequent backups, then you may not have the messages available.

If you don’t back your device up to your computer, you should. In the event something happens with your iPhone or iPad, you won’t lose critical data that may not be backed up to the cloud. 


Here are some answers to commonly asked questions related to recovering deleted iPhone messages without a backup. 

Are Deleted Text Messages Gone Forever?

Unless you have a backup of the text messages, then yes, deleted text messages are gone forever. The only copy that is saved (without a backup) is the copy on your phone and the sender’s phone. 

Where are Text Messages Stored on iPhone?

Text messages are stored in the iPhone’s internal storage. When you back up that storage, either through iCloud or iTunes/Finder sync, you’re saving those messages. 


It can be frustrating and difficult to deal with the loss of important messages. You have some options for recovering them if they’re not backed up. Nothing replaces a good backup, though, so you should consider implementing one.

Have you lost important messages before? What happened? Share your experience in the comments below.