Q: How can I restore text messages from iCloud to my iPhone?
— Mr. John
A: Although iCloud does not directly store your text messages or iMessage history, your text message database, like any other data on your iPhone, should be included in your iCloud backups. This means you can restore your text message history as it was on your iPhone when your iCloud backup was created, but you won’t be able to view anything you deleted before that backup. However, iCloud keeps the three most recent backups of your device, so you should be able to go back at least a few days if you need to.
Unfortunately, there is no straightforward way to retrieve only specific information from an iCloud backup—in order to access anything in it, you must restore the full backup to your iPhone or another iOS device. This will necessitate wiping your device and starting over, at which time you will be given the option of logging into your iCloud account and restoring your backup from there.
You can restore an iCloud backup to any target iOS device, regardless of which device the backup originated from. For example, you can restore an iPhone backup to an iPod touch. However, you’ll need an iPhone to retrieve text messages because the iPad and iPod touch don’t support SMS text messaging.
While erasing your device and restoring it from a backup can be a time-consuming operation, it may be worthwhile if you desperately need your data back. The easiest approach to deal with this is to use iTunes to build a new backup of your device before deleting it and restoring it from iCloud. Once you’ve restored the iCloud backup and recovered any information you need from it, you’ll be able to return to your present state. It’s worth noting that backing up to iTunes rather than iCloud is preferable in this scenario, as you don’t want to delete the oldest iCloud backup in case it contains the information you’re looking for.
Even if you’re using iCloud as your usual backup destination, you may do a manual backup to iTunes by connecting your iPhone to your Mac or PC and selecting “Back Up Now” from the device Summary screen that displays in iTunes.
After you’ve restored your iPhone from an older iCloud backup, use a third-party tool like eCamm’s PhoneView ($30) for Mac users or CopyTrans Contacts ($15) for Windows users to extract any text messages you want to keep.