Deleted an SMS? Don’t hope to retrieve itPost your comments online at straitstimes.comIF YOU have deleted an important text message, don’t expect your cellphone company to have a magical backup server that will bail you out.One Singapore man recently found that out the hard way when he tried to recover messages that he had trashed nine months ago.Mr Huang Yongliang wrote to The Straits Times Forum this week asking about the possibility of retrieving the long-since-deleted texts.“I got curious about the policies on retrieving SMSes when I accidentally deleted mine,” said Mr Huang.The 27-year-old said he wanted the texts for “personal reasons”, but declined to elaborate.Telecom companies, though, said customers can practically kiss the messages goodbye once they hit the delete button. The companies handle billions of messages annually and deleted SMSes are expunged from servers almost immediately, they say.SingTel, for example, said it processes 20 million text messages a day. That adds up to around seven billion a year.“It is therefore not economically or physically viable to store SMSes in our system for retrieval purposes,” said its corporate communications manager Cheam Tze Hui in a statement.There are a few exceptions. Logs that record the phone number, date and time of an SMS are captured and stored. StarHub and M1 keep these records for seven years and one year respectively. It is understood that these logs serve as verification when customers dispute SMS charges on their bills.Meanwhile, telecom companies say they also face privacy concerns when it comes to releasing text messages. Even if they are still on a backup server, SingTel said it will not release them – not even to someone who wants to retrieve his own message.Telecom companies will, however, release the information to the police and the courts. The former have the right to such information when they are investigating a crime.In 2001, police probing fake bomb threats sent via SMS traced the texts to a 20-year-old national serviceman. They tracked him using help from the telcos, which would not specifically reveal the method. But the telcos suggested that it involved SMS logs.In civil lawsuits, a judge can order companies to release messages if they are relevant to the case, according to Mr P. Padman, a partner in law firm Tito Isaac & Co. He has encountered this in defamation and divorce cases in the past. However, telcos are obliged to give the courts only information which they still possess.The only way to be certain of retaining the SMSes for one’s own use is to keep them in phones, according to service providers.
Two telcos – M1 and StarHub – said SMSes are purged from their systems as soon as they are delivered. SingTel would only say that while this is not done daily, it is fairly regular.
There’s tons of application including free bundled ones ranging from Sony Erricson, Nokia to of course Windows Mobile phones. I personally uses Windows Mobile phone exclusively since my O2 Mini days and since then, from O2 Mini to Dopod 838 to O2 Zinc to my current Samsung Blackjack, I’ve used Jeyo’s offerings from my early days and they have served me well. I was using the integrated SMS support from Jeyo, Jeyo Mobile Extender, that integrate into Outlook. A perfect, easy to use and anyone using Windows Mobile phones will have already acquainted themselves with Outlook a long time ago, scheduling their days, managing contacts and tasks and all. Now I uses a smaller and nimble application from Jeyo for my Samsung i600 aka the Blackjack, Jeyo Mobile Companion. Mobile Extender does not really work as well with my Samsung for god knows reasons but well, Companion works perfectly. I can send and receive sms to and from my phone via the PC whenever the phone is plugged in. The best part is of course the backing up which is what I am still wondering why when and if an SMS is so important, people are actually depending on Telcos to retrieve for them?!
SMS backup with Companion is done with a few clicks and is in the all roundly accepted XML format! How cool is that? File size are darn small at 98kb for a backup I have of 2033 SMSes.
Do yourself a favour today. NOW. Install whatever CD/ DVD bundled software that has come with your phone and find out of SMS backup is bundled. Windows Mobile users, visit Jeyo… unless you love the hassle of going through Telcos like how Mr Huang from the article may just love doing or with too much free time i his hands with his “personal reasons” SMS that he wish to retrieve aka mushy lovey SMS from some ex maybe?