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Question: Text messages don't actually get deleted

To all apple iPhone owners! Beware !! Apple iOS software stores every text message ever made on your phone.
You may think you've deleted them but there still there. I found out myself when I was using spotlight search to find something and noticed that some text conversations I made months ago were showing up!
These text messages were deleted a long time ago or so I thought.
When I contacted apple customer support, they told me the only way to permanent remove all text messages and ooh yes also emails , is to do a master reset, or restore to factory setting on iTunes. This intern removes all data from your phone. The downside to this is all your contacts , apps, and settings are erased. You also can't backup from previous because then it puts it back in ur phone. I know I have done it.

imac, Mac OS X (10.6.2)

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Nov 16, 2011 11:53 PM in response to Allan Sampson In response to Allan Sampson

Hi there - can you help me.

I want to RECOVER text messages ACCIDENTLY deleted from my 32G i phone 4. The tried the spotlight thing and nothing showed up. When I did the deleting, I did the DELETE AND SWIPE METHOD. Please help if possible.

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Aug 29, 2013 7:10 PM in response to gixxermike In response to gixxermike

I am trying to retrieve text messages that were deleted. I had not backed up before they were deleted from the phone but have since restore the phone to factory settings. I have tried multiple ways to restore the messages as I lost a phone number for someone that had been texting me. If anyone knows how to restore or access the phone number I would greatly appreciate it. Note the phone number was used for sms only. thanks

Celeste

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Oct 27, 2010 3:56 PM in response to Igor_G5 In response to Igor_G5

I'm running 4.1 and I can still pull up old deleted text messages in spotlight search by typing in the area code of the phone number... it's not every one of them but it's a lot of them... I can't always reproduce it but there's a bunch of deleted texts that come up with previews of the text I can read... I really don't like this issue.

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Sep 28, 2010 1:51 PM in response to DCGOO In response to DCGOO

DCGOO wrote:
All that means is the constraint of a spotlight search has been limited to undeleted messages.


What that means is that the information is removed from the directory. It has nothing to do with spotlight the iPhone has no idea that it exists. It's just like on a computer. Even though it's really there the computer thinks it isn't. The iPhone thinks it isn't there. It has nothing to do with how Spotlight works.

It would take some serious retrieval tools to retrieve it.

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Jan 5, 2011 7:00 PM in response to gixxermike In response to gixxermike

They guy who posted this is correct. I dont know about emails but I know the spotlight search and the text message search can pull up previously deleted messages, but I do believe there are some stipulations. I think the deleted text messages that appear must be the last text in a deleted conversation, as in clearing a conversation. I think manually deleting each text message fixes this problem as far as i can tell. And yes it is possible to delete some messages in a convo without deleting the whole thing.

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Oct 13, 2012 3:30 AM in response to gixxermike In response to gixxermike

Thanks for the heads up.

It angers me that 2 years later, this is still an issue.

Windows deletes things so "you" can't search them out unless you're super techy.

Come on Apple - I can accept a false sense of security, just find a way to delete TEXTS from the phones "spotlight search" . It should be a flood light search or a interrogation room search.


i will send apple my thoughts. Yet another missed opportunity to fix stuff we beg them to fix for years.

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Dec 28, 2012 8:27 PM in response to gixxermike In response to gixxermike

You are correct. My bf unknowingly was showing me how to look up contacts through the spotlight search, little did he or I know at the time that the first sentance of text messages would show up.

Oh how I did not like what I saw. 😟

I have also played with it on mine, it is hit or miss as you have to type in a keyword that is actually in the text. You cannot read the whole text, nor really tell who the actual sender or reciever is, only the other name exchanging the texts.

Seems to me if they are still in there enough to show up in spotlight search there has to be a way to recover them. But you cannot open them once they have been deleted.

There can be enough evidence just in that to get you in trouble.

Although the easiest solution is just to do the right dang thing in the first place and not be exchanging texts that you wouldn't want someone else to see. Grrrrrr!!!

But changing your settings will stop the spolight search from searching text messages, or email whatever you don't want to show up.

But all someone has to do if they can get to your phone is recheck the settings and bam!!

The truth will always come out in time anyway!

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Oct 12, 2015 3:21 AM in response to doyleleighty In response to doyleleighty

doyleleighty wrote:


Ashnewton

Oct 3, 2014 7:39 PM

Re: Text messages don't actually get deleted

in response to Kelly Wilkerson

Kelly,

I have been searching and trying all day long to recover deleted text message on iPhone. I sent the recipient another message in hopes that I could get that "load earlier" messages but that didn't happen. I use a software, probably not the best idea, and the current message does show but the rest of the conversation that I need is not showing up. Is there any help/advice you can give me? I really need the details of that conversation.


Thank you so much!

Maybe you use the software wrongly. Have you used it by following its directions? What kind of software are you using? Can you recommend it to me? I am using iPhone Data Recovery. It really works. But I also want to compare it with yours. You can also try to use this. Hope this help you.


If you have an iTunes backup, you can restore iPhone lost data from iTunes free. To restore from iTunes backup, you need to launch iTunes on the computer and go to iTunes>Preferences>Devic es. You will see a window with all of your backups listed on it.

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Aug 24, 2013 5:36 AM in response to gixxermike In response to gixxermike

If you back up to iCloud or iTunes, and have not backed up since you deleted the messages, you can restore the backup and they will come back.

Caveat: You will lose all changes made to the phone since the last backup. Whether this is acceptable is entirely up to you.

Simply "erase all content and settings" and restore from the backup.

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Oct 1, 2013 9:45 PM in response to gixxermike In response to gixxermike

The fact is for some unknow reason Apple is keeping a record of these records whether you delete them or not, and it is not just a small record, for call history it can be many many months of deleted records it keeps , it has nothing to do with unused space or anything like that.


For sms they are stored in a file called SMS.db and for call history its called Call_History.db these files are hidden and you can only access them from the phone itself if the phone is jailbroken.


However what is more worrring is that these files are also in the backup stored in semi plain text ans you need only a plain text editor to read them not specialist software like something..


try for yourselfs..


Create a backup of you phone to your pc

Search for the backup location, (in mac you can go prefrences>devices>right click the backupo and click open in finder)

Open the following files in text editor


3d0d7e5fb2ce288813306e4d4636395e047a3d28   this is the sms databse

2b2b0084a1bc3a5ac8c27afdf14afb42c61a19ca   this is the call hsitory database


This is basic way to do it and there is alot of unreadable characters but you can still read alot of the sms and call istory if you look through


The big point is whyt it keeps these records even after syncing

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Sep 28, 2010 7:34 AM in response to DCGOO In response to DCGOO

Yep - until the area on the drive where the deleted data was stored is overwritten with new data or until the Erase All Content and Settings option on the iPhone is used which is a secure erase, data can be recovered if someone goes to the trouble and expense to try to recover it.

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Sep 27, 2010 2:13 PM in response to gixxermike In response to gixxermike

Settings are lost when restoring as a new iPhone or not from your iPhone's backup, but all iTunes content on your iPhone - all music, movies, tv shows, and 3rd party apps should be in your iTunes library on your computer, and contacts are designed to be synced with a supported address book application on your computer and should be available on your computer with or without an iPhone or any cell phone. Not a good idea to depend on your iPhone or any cell phone alone for contacts, which can be lost or stolen.

I have nothing to be worried about - mainly since I have nothing to hide. If I discovered someone I allowed to use my iPhone doing a spotlight search for something in particular on MY iPhone, that would be the last time they would use it.

Sep 27, 2010 2:13 PM

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Sep 27, 2010 2:46 PM in response to gixxermike In response to gixxermike

Not necessarily.

OS X on your Mac includes a secure erase feature when emptying the Trash, but not when deleting email from within an email client. If you don't use the secure erase feature on your Mac when emptying the Trash, the data can be recovered with a data recovery utility until the area on the hard drive where the data was stored is overwritten with new data, or until the hard drive is securely erased when being reformatted.

This applies to email deleted with the email client used on your computer since there is no secure erase for this data.

The same applies to the iPhone with the Spotlight search feature being overzealous with finding data that was deleted. Until the area on the flash drive where the data was stored is overwritten with new data or unless Erase All Content and Settings on the iPhone is used which is a secure erase, the data will be picked up by Spotlight which can be important to some users when data is accidentally deleted from the iPhone.

Sep 27, 2010 2:46 PM

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Sep 27, 2010 11:54 PM in response to molotovito In response to molotovito

I wouldnt have posted this thread if i didnt see it for myself and speak with apple customer care!
Type a text message with a certain sentence to somebody , delete that message and go into spotlight search. type in any word from that text or the persons phone number or the persons name in your address book.
The only way it will not show up in spotlight is if your settings has messages unchecked!! ( goto ) settings/general/spotlight search/
If messages is checked you will see every text message you have sent in spotlight search

Sep 27, 2010 11:54 PM

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Sep 28, 2010 12:32 AM in response to gixxermike In response to gixxermike

I just sent myself a text message, went to Spotlight, search found it, deleted the message, went to Spotlight. It still had the search results showing. I pressed the ⓧ at the right of the search bar and reentered the search word. It did NOT find it.

Do you have the latest firmware (4.1)?

Sep 28, 2010 12:32 AM

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Sep 28, 2010 1:05 AM in response to Malcolm Rayfield In response to Malcolm Rayfield

I checked this morning. I've looked in settings and I have the tick next to messages. I did a search, like the person above. deleted one of the messages found and did the search again. The message was gone.

I think if that was a problem before 4.1 has fixed it.

Sep 28, 2010 1:05 AM

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Sep 28, 2010 7:24 AM in response to KTjazz In response to KTjazz

I think if that was a problem before 4.1 has fixed it.


All that means is the constraint of a spotlight search has been limited to undeleted messages. The messages are very likely still buried in flash somewhere. It probably eliminates the prying eyes problem, but not necessarily the security implications. Just depends on what you are trying cover up, and from whom.

Sep 28, 2010 7:24 AM

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Sep 28, 2010 7:34 AM in response to DCGOO In response to DCGOO

Yep - until the area on the drive where the deleted data was stored is overwritten with new data or until the Erase All Content and Settings option on the iPhone is used which is a secure erase, data can be recovered if someone goes to the trouble and expense to try to recover it.

Sep 28, 2010 7:34 AM

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Sep 28, 2010 8:16 AM in response to gixxermike In response to gixxermike

I tried it on my iPhone sending a message with a word that I know I never texted before. After deleting the text Spotlight didn't find the word.

I also tried sending an email from a different account to my iPhone. After deleting the email from both my inbox and the trash Spotlight didn't find that either.

I think your confused. Yes, like on a computer, the information is still there. But your average person cannot access it.

Sep 28, 2010 8:16 AM

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Sep 28, 2010 8:22 AM in response to DCGOO In response to DCGOO

DCGOO wrote:
Just depends on what you are trying cover up, and from whom.


Yes the authorities can probably recover it if they are suspicious of you. If you're involved in illegal activities, don't do it with text or email. BTW your email can be retrieved from your ISP as well as a record of where you've been on the web.

Maybe an experienced hacker could retrieve it. Don't let any hackers have access to your iPhone.

Sep 28, 2010 8:22 AM

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Question: Text messages don't actually get deleted