Most of us use our cellular phones or mobile device as more than purely just a phone for calls. That convenient miniature hand-held computer makes it easy to communicate through texts, messenger apps, e-mail, and social media.
With all of those words floating around in cyberspace, where are our conversations and messages to people stored? Are text messages stored on SIM cards? If we change phones, do we lose our texts?
Let’s talk about SIM cards and what role they play in storing text messages.
Are Text Messages Stored on SIM Cards?
Generally speaking, the default setting for a phone is to store text messages to the phone itself and not on the SIM card. There are, of course, always exceptions to every rule. There are some phones that allow you to store a limited amount of SMS messages on your SIM card.
Text messages are sometimes referred to as SMS Short Message Service data. However, there is a difference between an SMS and an MMS Multimedia Messaging Service text. SMS is only text, whereas MMS allows you to transfer pictures and multimedia. Even if your phone allows you to save texts to the SIM card, it will only save SMS messages and not pictures or videos.
SIM cards contain memory storage space of up to 128 kb to store data such as contacts, phone numbers, data usage, and billing information or personal identification numbers PINs. Some are able to store SMS text messages. Depending on your phone or how you choose to store your data, it’s very likely that at least some of your text messages will save to the SIM card either temporarily or permanently.
If your phone is an Apple product, your iPhone does not support storing any data on the SIM card. Your iPhone will also not allow you to import text messages or view texts messages that were stored on a SIM card on another phone. Apple products store texts directly to the device. If you back up your texts to the iCloud drive or iTunes, it will be helpful in restoring lost data.
OK, then where are text messages stored?
An Android and an iPhone handle data storage differently when it comes to saving texts. Here is how to store your texts and how to retrieve them. There is also third-party app software that helps to backup data.
On an iPhone, texts are stored directly to the actual phone and to its iPhone backups. Apple does not make it easy to export your texts to save externally. It’s not easy to access the file that contains your text messages in the iCloud backup. However, there are some workarounds.
If you back up your phone’s data to an Apple computer, you can look for the file by going to
- Library->Application Support->MobileSync->Backup
Within the backup, there should be several files, each with a very long file name that ends with .mddata, .mdbackup, or possibly no extension at all. This is where your texts are stored.
On Windows, find the file under C:\Users[username]\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup[user id]\_ _. But, you will need an SQLite editor or another third-party viewer to see the contents.
On Android, texts are stored directly to the device that can be backed up to Google Drive or Google Drive Samsung Cloud for a Samsung device. Some phones allow you to save texts to the SIM card memory at least temporarily for the purpose of transferring cards between phones.
I’m switching carriers, how do I make sure my text messages are safe?
To uphold privacy, cell phone carriers do not store text message content for an extended length of time. Cell phone companies like AT&T, for instance, generally save texts for up to 72 hours. Verizon keeps them for up to 10 days.
If you have an unlocked phone and switch phone companies by simply switching out the SIM card, your messages should remain intact on your phone. If your text messages are not stored on your SIM card, then your messages could be lost when you change out the SIM card unless you first backed them up or saved them to your phone or elsewhere. Before swapping out the SIM card, make sure you have followed the specific backup process for your type of phone.
If you switch carriers of your mobile phones and swap out your SIM card, your text messages will remain on the original phone even after the SIM card has been removed. If you receive messages through your SIM card, the text message will be stored on our SIM card.
To make sure your text messages are safe, back up your texts before swapping out the SIM card. One of the easiest ways to back up texts is to use a cloud service. For Android phones, Google Android is easy to use for a backup process with texts that have been stored to your Android phone memory. For iPhone, you will back up through iCloud or iTunes.
So, what is stored on a SIM card – what does it do?
If you own a smartphone, you probably already know that the small plastic card that slots into the side of your phone is called a SIM card. The three-lettered acronym of a SIM card simply stands for Subscriber Identity Module.
Think of the SIM card as more of a driver’s license or ID. Without a SIM card, your phone will not be able to connect to a wireless carrier, and you will not have an internet signal without WiFi. It is mainly there to digitally prove who has access to the phone and who is responsible for paying the bill.
It essentially identifies that the device is approved to use the carrier through a Mobile Subscriber Identification Number. It is not an SD memory storage card and actually has limited space for memory at all.
These little cards are computer chips that hold information and help you to connect with your network. This tiny chip allows you to make calls, send SMS text messages, and connect to the internet. It also stores your Personal Identification Number PIN or cell phone PIN code to make it more difficult to hack into.
What part does this SIM card play in storing texts?
The SIM card makes it easy to swap out and insert into a new phone or device to quickly change between devices and retain data on your cell phone provider’s network. Each SIM card has an identification number that matches the one on your wireless account. The cards are designed to store important information that is used primarily to identify your phone number.
Originally, the cards only stored identifying phone numbers and billing information as well as some that stored additional data such as your contacts. Eventually, SIM cards were improved for some to be able to store more information including some pictures and text messages. Apple products don’t store pictures, text messages, or even contacts on SIM cards.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the different types of SIM cards?
SIM cards come in two main varieties: Micro-SIM and Nano-SIM. MSIM cards are smaller than NSIM cards but can still fit inside most smartphones. They are typically found in older models like iPhones and Blackberry handsets while newer ones may require a nano-SIM.
Is a sim card and a memory card the same thing?
No! A SIM Card is a type of smartcard that contains its unique identifier and other relevant information about the subscriber. Memory Cards contain digital content such as music files, photos, videos, etc.
Can a phone work without a SIM card?
Some new model phones have e-Sim technology built into them so they can operate without a physical SIM card installed.