Welcome back to Lifehacker’s weekly tech-advice column. This week, we’re tackling a tougher reader question — more for its subject matter than its difficulty. I felt compelled to answer this one, though, because it’s something that all of us might have to face at some point in our lives.
Lifehacker reader “Captain Quack” writes:
My brother-in-law recently passed away and my mother-in-law wants to save his last voice mail message. Her ancient Nokia (we think) is dying and we are going to get her something comparable but newer. She’s not really comfortable with change but she’s not been very happy with her current carrier. Is there a way to move that voice mail to a new carrier?
First off, I’m sorry for your loss, and I’m glad that you at least have some audio memories that you can access.
I can’t recall the last time I used a Nokia phone — it’s been that long for me, too — but my initial thought is that the best way to preserve this voicemail is to simply record it using another device. Find something that has a solid microphone — a standalone handheld device, a podcasting microphone, your smartphone, or possibly even your laptop — and use that to record the message as it plays back from your phone. If your Nokia has some kind of speakerphone, perfect. If not, you’ll want to get that microphone as close to the phone’s earpiece as possible.
You’ll probably have to make a few recordings to get something you’re satisfied with, and you’ll also want to make sure you’re giving yourself the best environment to take one — no background noise, if possible. You can then pull the file up in an audio-editing app like Audacity, one of our favourites, and adjust the audio’s volume and EQ. You can also play around with other filters to try and increase the clarity of the recording which, even in a pristine condition, is still going to be a great recording of voicemail-quality speech.
As for moving a voicemail from one carrier to another, that’s not going to work if said voicemail is stored on the carrier’s servers. There’s no mechanism for porting a voicemail from one carrier's service to another.
You didn’t mention what kind of Nokia phone we’re talking about, but I’m assuming “ancient” means “not running Android” — it’s some kind of old-school T9 device, or a “feature phone” as it’s commonly known.
If I’m wrong, and your Nokia device does run Android, you have even more options to save that voicemail on your device and transfer it to a connected computer. You’ll have to go digging through your Android’s file system for the saved voicemail, but it should be easy to find. (I believe you’d be looking for the “VVM” folder on your device, short for “visual voicemail.”)
You could also record the audio from your phone directly to your computer, if your Android-powered Nokia has a 3.5mm headphone jack. No matter what solution you pick, I’d investigate this sooner than later. If your voicemail is saved on your carrier’s servers, they might delete it without warning once it’s a certain number of days old — usually 30, but this can vary by carrier.