My Messages Database Must Be Corrupted - How Do I Retrieve/Backup My Texts?

thingreen

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Help! I'm in the process of activating a new Android phone (current phone is a HTC 10). So I was making sure my data is all backed up via Google when I noticed that my SMS messages backup showed 'No data backed up' which was odd. I've been using Google Messages for awhile and have a huge amount of texts stored. On this phone I also have the native HTC messages app which I haven't used in awhile as well as the Verizon Messages+ app (which I had never used).

So as I was trying to figure out why my texts were showing fine on my Google Messages yet couldn't be backed up, I tried a few typical things. I cleared cache, restarted the phone, force stop, etc. I then also tried to switch my SMS app from Google Messages back to the original HTC messages app just to see if that would do anything. That was when things started going bad. HTC messages app could see the messages but couldn't access any of them, and the app was 'locked up'. I then tried using SMS Backup & Restore but it didn't see any messages to backup which I guess was consistent with why Google didn't see any SMS messages to back up. So I couldn't understand why Google Messages could access all my messages yet none of them were showing up to be backed up.

At some point of trying various things like rebooting/cursing/clearing cache, something happened and now neither of these message apps showed my messages anymore. Everything had disappeared. I checked the storage User data and noticed that the HTC message app user data was very small (7 MB) -- I fear that somehow I may have pressed 'Clear User Data' accidentally. I know I didn't do it intentionally. However, when I checked Google Messages, the User data storage was much larger (~64 MB). But both apps seem to be accessing the same database which now was showing no messages in it. So what happened?

It gets weirder. Out of desperation, I setup the Verizon Messages+ app as the default app and guess what? It sees ALL the messages in it but I can't access them. I can search for text within the threads and it will find the content but when I try to open any messages, it spins forever and gets stuck. AND, once I try accessing a thread, if I go back to the message list, it's stuck too. I can only see the list of messages by closing the app and reopening it. I was only able to randomly access one thread's messages ONCE and I have not idea why it worked that one time. I haven't been able to repeat that since. When I checked the Verizon Messages+ User data storage size it was even larger, 134 MB. So would that make sense since it's the only one that can 'see' all of my old messages while the other two don't?

It seems like something is corrupted with the message database. The Google/HTC message apps are seeing a blank database essentially while the Verizon message+ app is seeing all of the messages but it can't access them. I then tried to install another app, Textra, as a test and when it synced up, it also saw the same blank message list. What database is the Verizon messages+ app referencing?

What can I do at this point to back up my old messages to transfer to my new phone? I'm stuck and am not sure if I have any options? Can I repair/extract the database that the Verizon messages+ app is accessing and move it to my new phone?

Sorry for the long post but I tried to include the details I can remember and would really appreciate any tips. Thanks!

Shawn
 

B. Diddy

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Welcome to Android Central! It seems that SMS is only backed up to Google Drive for Pixel phones: https://support.google.com/drive/answer/6305834?hl=en&co=GENIE.Platform=Android

The messages themselves aren't actually stored as app data in the messaging apps themselves -- they're in a system app called Phone and Messaging Storage. To find it, go to Settings>Apps, then tap Menu>Show System.

You're saying you already tried clearing the app cache/data for the Google Messages app, force stopped it, then opened it again? Is this with the SIM card still in the older phone?
 

thingreen

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Yes, I cleared the Google Messages cache first, force stopped it, rebooted the phone. I have Verizon. Yes, I haven't activated the new phone yet. All this is happening with my old phone which has the SIM card in it. The messages are in a SQLite database right? But then why is the Verizon message+ app seeing all the messages but all the others don't if they're all accessing the same database?

I tried going to apps and show system apps but didn't see 'Phone and Messaging Storage'?
 

B. Diddy

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It might be called something different, since it's an older phone. Look through the system apps for anything along the lines of "Messaging Storage."

Can you clarify what you mean that the Verizon Messages+ app can see the messages but it can't access them? Do you mean that you can see who the messages are from and the first line of the most recent message, but you can't actually open the thread?

Full disclosure here, I probably won't have a solution for you, but just trying to see if I can tease out any more details in case someone smarter can figure something out.:-\
 

thingreen

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Sure, I'm hoping that someone might be able to piece the clues together and help. I'm happy to provide as many details that I can.

Short summary of my long original post:
- Google Messages, HTC message, and Textra (which I installed last to test out my theory) all see a very limited list of messages. It's a random assortment of a handful of messages which don't appear to have any pattern (dates, senders, etc). So when I meant see 'blank' list of messages, it's not completely blank just basically a few out of thousands of messages I had stored.
- Verizon Message+ app shows ALL the messages I had in the list. Yes, I can scroll down and see the sender and preview for all the threads. But then if I choose any thread and click on it, it just spins forever. The thread can't load -- the screen is blank with a spinning icon. I've let it go for awhile and nothing happens. Also, once I try to access any message, if I hit the back button to the list of messages, it then is blank where the list of messages no longer shows like it initially did. In order to see the list of messages again, I have to exit the app and close it. Then, when I open it up again, it has no problem showing the full list of messages again. Now, while I'm in any particular thread and it's spinning, I can enter a search term and it will actually pull up ALL of the messages in that thread with that search term in it, telling me that the content is still there. The search also works from the blank message list screen -- it will find any thread with that search term. But again, if I try to actually load any of these found result threads, it just spins.

So I'm puzzled why Verizon message+ is able to do this while the other ones seem to be accessing the same database that's not showing much of anything? I thought somehow the Verizon app is linking to a different version of the database while the others are now linked to some 'altered' copy? Is that even possible?
 

thingreen

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And I'm sort of basing my 'altered' version of the database question loosely on experience with Office 365 where time stamp issues or some other error can cause two different versions of the file to be created with different edits going forward. For example, what does the Android system do if it thinks that the original message database got deleted and can't find it? Does it create a new blank message database file? Meanwhile, the original one would still be there but somehow it's corrupted where the system doesn't recognize it's still there?
 

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