Ask LH: Will Google Hangouts Back Up My SMS Messages?

Dear Lifehacker, I have a Nexus 5 and I have started using the Google Hangouts app for SMS my friends. But I’m wondering: are the SMS messages also backed up into Google? Thanks, Nexus Newbie

Dear NN,

The use of Hangouts rather than the standard Android SMS app is one of the major changes in Android KitKat, and the Nexus 5 uses this option by default. You can also choose to use Hangouts on any Android device running 4.0 or a subsequent version.

Given that most Google services are accessed via Google’s own servers, you might easily assume that SMS messages accessed through Hangouts also fall into this category and are backed up — but you’d be wrong.

Google’s own support page explaining how Hangouts works as an SMS client make this quite clear:

Google does not upload your texts or back them up so they won’t show up on other Hangouts apps if you log in with that same account on another device or computer.

In this respect, Hangouts behaves the same way as older versions of Android — SMS messages remain resident on the device and aren’t synced, unlike email messages, bookmarks or app downloads. If you want SMS backup into the cloud, you’ll need to use a separate app.


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