Whether you've accidentally deleted your messages, your handset has been damaged, and you've lost them as a result, or you've retrieved a company phone and wish to view messages that have been deleted, it's important to know how to get messages back. If you're in a hurry or need those messages in an emergency, for example, for legal reasons or as part of an internal investigation, you may wish to consider investing in forensic data recovery equipment such as an iPhone recovery software. If you're not in a hurry or don't mind working through the process yourself, here's how.

How to recover and restore deleted iPhone messages

Please note that this method works best when automatic backups are switched on. If you're not backing up your data - you should be, as this process may require specialist equipment as above, as this can help you restore contacts, music, photos and more. Log in to your iCloud account using your normal Apple ID and password. Click where it says 'Text Messages'. This opens up a list of messages that have been deleted, plus ones that are still visible on your handset. Select the messages that you want to restore.

Select 'Settings' on your iPhone. Then select iCloud. Then turn off 'Text Messages'. A dialogue will appear. Select 'Keep on my iPhone'. Then turn messages back on. Select 'Merge'. This will restore backed-up messages to your handset. Note that the messages may take a few minutes to appear on your handset, and you may also notice that they aren't all in the correct chronological order.

How to recover and restore deleted text messages on Android

A number of third-party apps exist that claim to assist with the recovery of lost or deleted text messages. We've not used any of these, so we wouldn't feel comfortable making strong recommendations, but generally, the Coolmuster Android SMS+Contacts Recovery app and the Wondershare Dr.Fone app appear to be well received by reviewers. Once you've downloaded your preferred app, you can follow the instructions on the screen to find and recover lost messages. Typically this involves a full scan of your Android device's memory, after which point you'll be prompted to select the messages you wish to retrieve.

The importance of backing up and when not to

Backing up means that your phone automatically syncs content to an external device or to the cloud, depending on how you've configured it. In most cases, this occurs when you connect your phone to your computer, but with iPhones, it can happen automatically. If you don't use the phone for anything you wish to keep private or commercially sensitive communication, automatically backing up is important and can come in handy.

However, it can be the opposite if you've got things you wish to keep private. With automated backups turned on, you're effectively sharing all phone content with another device. This doubles the entry points for people with unethical intentions to access your data. If you want to keep things private, disable all automatic backups.