Deleted iMessage Conversation

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by okthen, Apr 11, 2016.

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  1. okthen macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2016
    #1
    It is hard for me to believe how easy it is to mistakenly delete an entire iMessage conversation. I was sending a video by iMessage that was not going through and bogging down the conversation, so I decided to delete it. I pressed on the video until the "Copy/Save/More" box opened, selected More, then hit Delete All at the top left. Huge Mistake. I should have hit the trash can at bottom left. This one single mistake deleted an intensive 16 month conversation.

    I need to get that conversation back.

    I have a recent iCloud backup, but it apparently has not been backing up iMessage. I don't know why this is, and I need to change this, but whatever the reason there is no iMessage button on my iCloud page:
    Screen shot 2016-04-11 at 5.17.56 PM.png
    I will need to figure that out so that this doesn't happen again, but that's not my primary concern right now.

    I have an iTunes backup but it is a few months old. Retrieving this would be better than nothing, but I'm hoping I can still get the whole conversation back. The good news is that my conversation partner has the entire conversation on her iPhone. So my question is, what is the best and/or easiest way to get a copy of it from her? Can she re-send the entire conversation? There are conservatively 15,000 total texts so she can't go back and send them one at a time. I also don't want to lose the structure of the conversation and have it all sent as one big text message. So selecting each message and forwarding them is not an option.

    I don't need the conversation restored on my phone. I just want an archive or copy of it on my Mac that retains the structure along with all the photos and videos. I downloaded an app called PhoneView that saves the entire conversation, including photos and videos, and keeps the conversation structure intact. I wish I had known about this app before. I could possibly use it to get a copy of the conversation from her phone, but there doesn't seem to be a way to do this without downloading everything on her phone, and I don't think she would like that.

    Anyone dealt with this before, or have any ideas?
     
  2. dave006 macrumors 68030

    dave006

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2008
    Location:
    Just West of East
    #2
    How do you know that your iMessages are note in iCloud? The backup information is shown on the Settings screen (click the grey Gear...)

    There is no button to restore iMessages, they are part of your iCloud backup. You would need to restore from the backup to get the following types of messages back: iMessage, text (SMS), and MMS messages (requires the SIM card that was in use during backup).

    There are a lot of other items included in the iCloud backup, here is a link with an overview: https://support.apple.com/kb/PH12519?locale=en_US

    Dave
     
  3. okthen thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 11, 2016
    #3
    Thank you. Here is a screenshot of my Settings screen:
    Screen shot 2016-04-11 at 6.59.13 PM.png
    Where would my iMessages be?
     
  4. Aditya_S macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2016
    #4
    For me, if I deleted the conversation and then texted that person back, it would still show all our previous texts, so try to create a new conversation with that person.
     
  5. okthen thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 11, 2016
    #5
    A "new" conversation? Do you mean just send her another text (I've sent dozens since this happened)? She was still in my Messages list after I deleted the conversation. I'm not sure how else I would create a new conversation without deleting her from my contacts and re-entering her, and I doubt that's what you mean.
     
  6. dave006 macrumors 68030

    dave006

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2008
    Location:
    Just West of East
    #6
    They are part of the Yellow space, aka the backup data.

    Follow this link and read the details on how to restore your iPhone from the latest iCloud backup: https://support.apple.com/kb/ph12521?locale=en_US

    Dave
     
  7. okthen thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 11, 2016
    #7
    The conversation was deleted two weeks ago. I just checked and my last iCloud backup was today, which I assume won't contain the deleted conversation. Can I restore from a previous backup?

    Also, I do remember reading somewhere that iMessages are not always backed up. Isn't there a place to select, or de-select, iMessages from iCloud backups? I'd like to be sure I have this selected.
     
  8. bcave098 macrumors 6502

    bcave098

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    Sep 6, 2015
    Location:
    Northern British Columbia
    #8
    What you're seeing is expected. The only way to see what's in the backup is to restore it to a device. To do so, erase the device and restore from the iCloud backup. (Note: all newer information will be deleted).
     
  9. dave006 macrumors 68030

    dave006

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    Jul 3, 2008
    Location:
    Just West of East
    #9
    That depends on you and how much storage you have on your iCloud account. Normally, iCloud will maintain your latest 3 backups. Since you have 50 MB purchased you should have at least 3 good backups to choose from to restore.

    The down side is that you don't get the choice of backup images to restore until you erase your iPhone and then you will have an option to restore from iCloud and at that point you will have a chance to select from the available backups.

    My personal view would be to do a new iCloud backup and then follow the instructions on restoring from an iCloud backup that I referenced above.

    This will give you the option to see a list of previous backups to try and if all else fails you can just restore the backup you just made today.

    Dave
    --- Post Merged, Apr 11, 2016 ---
    No there is not an option to include or exclude messages from the iCloud / iTunes backup, they are always included in an iCloud backup.

    You can see what you have included or excluded in your iCloud backup by going to Settings > iCloud and you will see a list of items that you included or excluded from your backup.

    Dave
     
  10. okthen thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 11, 2016
    #10
    So it sounds like my messages are in the backup, the question is whether or not I still have a backup from before the deletion (over two weeks ago now), or whether the older backups will have been overwritten by now with newer backups. I'm wondering what the likelihood is that an older backup still exists, given that the iCloud backup seems to run automatically about once a day or so (I have now turned this off). If it only saves three backups the deleted conversation will likely be gone, won't it?

    Given that the whole conversation is still on her phone, any ideas how I could get a copy of this (preferably one that retains photos and videos)?
     
  11. dave006 macrumors 68030

    dave006

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2008
    Location:
    Just West of East
    #11
    Basic iCloud backup rules:

    • Your device is connected to a power source.
    • Your device's screen is locked.

    If this is the case for your iPhone every night then an iCloud backup is made every night. This would limit your restore options for something that you deleted two weeks ago as you are thinking.

    Now, what do you want to do with a copy of the iMessage(s) or SMS message(s) conversation from the other iPhone?

    If you only want a copy on your PC or Mac then there are tools that would allow you to extract the conversation from her iPhone or a backup of her iPhone. Please note that most tools are trial and error and many will cost more than $50.

    Give Google a try and you will find several tools that claim to do what you want and some even offer free trial downloads.​

    If you want to get a complete copy of the conversation back on your iPhone then that's less likely to work out well for you. There is a very complex way that you might be able to end up with this conversation back on your iPhone but it will involve restoring a backup of her iPhone on to your device and then deleting everything that you don't want to keep and then slowly re-adding your information. You will have to resolve all the possible conflicts with things like Contacts, Notes, Calendar information, etc...​

    Warning: Make sure that you have a current backup of your iPhone before you start.

    Dave
     
  12. okthen thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 11, 2016
    #12
    It shows the time of the last backup in iCloud settings, but is there any way to see the history of backups beyond this?
     
  13. dave006 macrumors 68030

    dave006

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    Jul 3, 2008
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    Just West of East
    #13
    Not a quick way to check. Using Apple's solution the only way is to attempt a restore from iCloud and then it will show you the backups available for restore. Again here is the Apple supported way: https://support.apple.com/kb/ph12521?locale=en_US

    The other option is to use one of the third party tools, here are a couple of names you can search for in Google or Bing:
    1. FonePaw - iPhone data recovery
    2. Reincubate - iPhone Backup Extractor
    Note: I don't support any Apple or third party tool or method of data recovery, use at your own risk.

    Dave
     
  14. electronicsguy macrumors 6502a

    electronicsguy

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    Oct 12, 2015
    Location:
    Pune, India
    #14
    that is rubbish. it doesn't work like this. There's no inbuilt way to recover deleted imessages.
     
  15. Aditya_S macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2016
    #15
    Actually, I just realized this but I think the only reason it worked for me was because I had that same conversation on an iPhone and my iPad because both were signed into the same Apple ID and iCloud with Handoff and Continuity enabled. I deleted the conversation on the iPad but not on the iPhone, however later, I started a new conversation on my iPad with the same person and it probably showed my previous texts since they were still on my iPhone and I think Continuity saved them.
     
  16. koolmagicguy macrumors 6502

    koolmagicguy

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    Feb 19, 2012
    Location:
    New York
    #16
    You must be thinking of when you go to contacts, send a text and then the messages become merged.
     
  17. orbital~debris macrumors 6502a

    orbital~debris

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    Mar 3, 2004
    Location:
    England, UK, Europe
    #17
    I'd recommend using Phone View. I'm pretty sure you can deselect options so it only extracts iMessage / SMS text conversations. You can export as a PDF, I recall, with each message depicted in a separate message bubble.
     
  18. okthen thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2016
    #18
    Yes I found this app after I deleted the conversation. It does do what you say - except the quality of the photos on the PDF export is not too good, and it doesn't keep the videos, just a picture of them (you can't actually play the videos). But this would be a lot better than what I have now, ie, nothing.

    If I download her iPhone onto my Mac using PhoneView I will get everything in the original condition/quality. This would be ideal. But I don't see a way to only download this one conversation. It appears I would need to download her entire iPhone.

    In regard to the iCloud backup approach, I am reticent to erase my iPhone on the hope that there is a backup from 17 days ago. From what I understand, it has probably been overwritten by now. So PhoneView may be my best option.
     

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