I understand I should have used a different app for backing up my messages, but I did not. I used Titanium Backup and made a full backup of apps and data. I was apparently also using Android Messenger and not Google Hangouts to store my SMS. This service was apparently deprecated in August. I go to Titanium to restore my messages, and for a moment, it looks good! I see all my messages. Then they rapidly delete themselves before my very eyes!

I try again, I reload app + data, or data only, and the same thing happens---I see all my messages, then I watch it delete them one by one very quickly.

What is happening in this process, and how can I prevent it? Where are they going?

About adb backups, not Titanium Backup, is this Reddit thread relevant (could I get my SMS back if I have an old ADB lying around?)?

  • May be, check if this answer could help you extract the related data you want.
    – Lucky
    Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 10:13
  • "made full backup of apps and data." -- did you take backup of Phone/Messaging Storage app? It's a system app.
    – Firelord
    Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 17:51
  • I think so. On titanium, I did "Backup all user apps + system data." And adb backup, I did adb backup -all -apk -shared -f mybackupname.ab I restore messenger as a system app, and it restores, but then immediately deletes the texts. I watch them vanish one at a time before my eyes. Commented Oct 17, 2015 at 0:53

2 Answers 2


The very same thing happened to me as well. But no Hangouts is involved here. I just used the files of a TWRP backup, but OAndBackupX or Neo Backup will behave just the same.

There seems to be some other location where Android keeps the number of messages processed. Logcat says:

SyncCursorPair: Not in sync; # local messages = 9453, # remote message = 1*

What's pretty puzzling is that on a fresh phone, if you send 1 test message, then overwrite the bugle_db with your backup, all messages get deleted but your test message remains. There has to be some other storage for them as well.

I found https://github.com/tmo1/sms-db and it was quickly setup on Debian. Extract the bugle_db from whichever data backup you have.

Just issue

sms-db.pl -f bugle -i bugle_db

and then

sms-db.pl -f bugle -o msgs.xml

The resulting msgs.xml can be imported with https://www.synctech.com.au/sms-backup-restore/ (APK available for download, no Play Store necessary).

Worked reliably on a LineageOS 19.1 just now.

As a side note: use SMS Backup+ (F-Droid/Aurora Droid).

It can easily be configured to use your own mail server (I certainly don't want to hand my most private messages over to someone I don't know)

Aaaand: Make sure your <insert relative here> also regularly uses it after you set it up for them ;-) Would have made my life easier, it was there all the time on the old phone/ROM version anyway.

I also found https://github.com/p1ne/SMS-Tools and https://github.com/Nerdmind/Android-SMS-Extractor. They might come in handy as well.


OK, here's the deal...

So, the issue was that Messenger vs Hangouts is controlled external to your application, and external to your Google account manager, it's an OS-level setting. So, the issue was I had to sign into Messenger, agree to the terms, declare it my default SMS manager, and then when I did the restore, it didn't automatically delete. I guess prior to this, Messenger and Hangouts were in a fight somehow.

This is probably a one-off problem, I had not converted from the deprecated messenger to the supported Hangouts, my phone was kind of grandfathered in, while the default SMS program had changed.

If you are in this situation in the future, set your default SMS to Messenger, and Hangouts won't delete your messages.

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