The TextRar Text Recovery Project

The project for recovering deleted text messages came about after I dropped my old phone and broke it. It was pretty destroyed actually but that led to the TextRar project.

retrieve deleted text messagesI wanted something which could access the phone memory and scan for deleted text messages without actually having access to use of the phone. Whether it was to retrieve deleted emails, videos or text messages we wanted an all in one solution – but it all started with me wanting my text message back.
So the goal was to figure out how to retrieve deleted text messages without a SIM card or working screen. We decided to rule out going through the providers (i.e tmobile, Sprint or AT&T) and keep it on the purely software side of things. I can’t say it was our easiest project but eventually we worked something together for the Android and the whole thing became a bit of our Brainchild from there.
We eventually worked in iPhone support for Apple users which turns out is a lot easier to do than Android. The main issue we came across when it came to retrieving deleted text messages was the USB isn’t granted enough access to the memory. With an iPhone you can click a few buttons but an Android needs to have the debug developer mode enabled for it to work properly. It can still get some details but if you really want a full scan of all the deleted text messages you need to enable that.

We’ve been trying to work on a workaround for this but so far it’s pretty limiting. If you happen to program with the Android SDK then the likelihood is you’re rarely out of debug mode so your fine. For the rest of us if your phone screen breaks you’d need to replace it before you can recover deleted data properly. It still happens if you hit the phone hard enough the screen can break and take out the software side of things. If your phone is forced to factory reset then you can still use the new screen (they can be fairly cheap on Amazon if you install them yourself).
The full functionality is still being worked on. But it’s purpose has gone beyond just recovering data from a phone with a broken screen. This can be used to retrieve deleted texts which have been removed from user error or software going crazy. Ideally we should all be making backups, this is true. But we know fine well that real life rarely follows the ideal and people lose deleted text messages all the time. Phone apps rarely have enough power to properly scan a phone to retrieve anything so there has to be a third party solution. Oddly enough there wasn’t when we started this, though in today’s society the SMS is kind and we rely on it pretty heavily.

I won’t get into the full coding side of things here just now as I’m still working on the report and it’s all pretty rough at the moment (my code is always bad looking. Sorry Mike i still don’t comment enough). But for a basic understanding on how you can recover deleted texts we put together this video for the project (sorry about the cheese):

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