Answers to the following question list a number of Android apps that can be used to backup SMS messages:

However, all of the applications mentioned in the answers seem to require lots of permissions that are not strictly necessary; examples include "receive SMS", "edit SMS or MMS", "full Internet access", "read contact data", "write contact data", "write contact data", "read phone state and identity", etc.

Is there any tool that

  1. simply copies all SMS messages to a local file on the SD card,
  2. does not require any irrelevant permissions – as far as I can see, permissions "read SMS or MMS" and "modify/delete SD card contents" should be enough.

Edit: Based on the answers, I had a closer look at SMS Backup & Restore Pro. It is better than nothing – at least it does not require any kind of Internet access. However:

  • It cannot copy messages stored on the SIM card, only messages stored in the inbox.
  • It does not work on Android 3.2 tablets.
  • It still requires far too many permissions for my needs.

TxtArchive does not seem to work on Android 3.2, either.


5 Answers 5


As you don't ask to restore them (just to backup): Did you take a look at TxtArchive SMS Backup? Yupp, costs a few bucks. But hence it needs no ads, and no internet: Read SMS/MMS, Read Contactdata (both are connected -- you surely want to know who wrote the SMS ;), and store to SD.

Similarly SMS Backup & Restore Pro for about the same price (2 Euro), which also wants to write SMS/MMS (to restore them), and keep the phone from sleeping while it does the work.

Oh, plus the requirement mentioned by Flow: "read phone state and identity" is also required. -- though the app states Android minversion 1.6 (this requirement was removed with Android 2.0 AFAIK -- for all previous versions it was a "must").

Simple search for SMS Backup on the playstore, both on page 1 -- not too hard to find. Hope you like them ;)


Have a look at SlightBackup or (again) at LifeSaver2:

Some notes on LifeSaver2:

Not the one in Google Play but the old version!

An older version of LifeSaver2 is available on the purely open source f-droid.org repository.

Permissions for the old version:

Used to read SMS:
⚠ Read SMS or MMS [READ_SMS]
⚠ Modify/delete USB storage contents [WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE]

Used to read call logs:
⚠ Read contact data [READ_CONTACTS]

Used to restore call logs and SMS:
⚠ Write contact data [WRITE_CONTACTS]

If you are still super paranoid you can use apktool (an android .apk reverse engineering tool) to remove the latter two or three permissions listed above from the given .apk. You can also inspect the old code snapshot and build a modified version of it yourself if you want to further suit your needs.

Some background on why LifeSaver2 changed:
LifeSaver2 is in fact a migration tool that you use to move your call-log/SMS'es from the old to a new Android phone. You did that by backing stuff on the old up, insert the external SD card into the new phone and use the app again to restore there.
Newer Android devices don't necessarily have an external SD card anymore. It's cumbersome for a big majority of LifeSaver2's users to manually transfer the backup data files, so the author (which works at Google) decided to backup to the cloud (Google AppEngine atm.) instead of the SD card at some point.

  • The current version of LifeSaver 2 does not seem to be compatible with Android 3.2 tablets. Are the system requirements of the older version more flexible? Sep 13, 2012 at 13:43
  • Maybe the author excluded any tablet device. Technically it should be working. I'd say, just give it a try. The older version's restore is half-broken (restored call log doesn't retain dates) on newer Android versions, however I could backup on my Nexus S running Jelly Bean fine using this old version. I don't have 3.2 tablets for testing here.
    – ce4
    Sep 13, 2012 at 13:46

If the reason that you're worried about permissions is because you are worried that an app might do something nefarious, why not try an open-source solution? That way if the program was doing anything bad, developers would know from looking at its source code.

SMS Backup + is an open-source tool. The source is available at https://github.com/jberkel/sms-backup-plus .

  • SMS Backup + does not work with Android 3.2 tablets. Sep 17, 2012 at 22:27


  • Are you using the stock app?
  • Will you consider using a replacement app for SMS?

If yes, consider GoSMS Pro. Contrary to what the name suggests, it's free and backups messages to the SD card.

  • Can it read SMS messages from the inbox of the stock app? My main concern is the SMS messages that I already have in the inbox. Sep 18, 2012 at 17:21
  • It absolutely can. All the messages that you have will automatically be populated within GoSMS. However, there are a few issues with Go that I have detailed here. Advisable to keep the stock app and use GoSMS as your primary SMS app. That way, you can keep backing up your texts to the SD card. To delete messages from your Inbox automatically, set a texts limit to conversations (usually, 200 but more if your backup schedule is longer than a week and you get way too many texts than normal).
    – I-O
    Sep 19, 2012 at 8:06
  • This approach seems to be compatible with Android 3.2, which is nice. Unfortunately, GoSMS Pro requires lots of permissions, including full internet access. Sep 19, 2012 at 10:35
  • It does because it is a full-blown SMS app, not one that just backs up texts. It has all the permissions that your stock SMS app needs and has, so why are you skeptical about Go? Just curious!
    – I-O
    Sep 21, 2012 at 4:51

"Backup to Gmail " is an app am using on my S3 (don't have any other Android device to try it on)

  • It requires lots of permissions (including full internet access), and it does not work on Android 3.2, so unfortunately this does not really answer my questions. Sep 18, 2012 at 17:24

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