How to Backup Signal Messages
Have you just got a new phone and want to backup your old Signal messages and files? If so, you’re in luck – the app supports backup and restoral features. However, if you’ve cleared your phone, don’t have an old device, or have changed your number, you might not be so fortunate. But don’t worry. We are here to help.
In this article, we’ll show you how to backup messages and files depending on your phone’s operating system. Plus, we’ll answer all additional questions you might have related to Signal backups.
How to Backup Signal to a New iOS Device
To back up the Signal app to your new iPhone, follow the instructions outlined below.
Important note: You can only transfer data from other Apple devices.
- Update both devices to the latest Signal and iOS versions.
- Enable Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and the Local Network permission in the settings of both devices.
- Disable the Low Power Mode in the settings of both devices.
- Make sure the registration of your new iPhone or iPad is complete.
- Install Signal on your new device and register.
- During the registration, select “Transfer from iOS device”, then “Next”
- Click “Next” on your old device and scan the QR code that appeared on your new device.
- Double-check the backup by sending a message from your new device.
How to Backup Signal to a New Android Device
You can transfer Signal data between any Android devices by doing the following:
- To enable a backup on your old device, click your profile icon and select “Signal Settings”, “Chats and media”, then “Chat backups”, and press “Turn on”.
- A 30-digit passcode will appear. Copy it.
- Click “Enable backups”.
- To move the folder containing your Signal data, use a cable to connect your old phone to the new phone. Some phones provide instructions in the storage settings.
- Install Signal on your new device.
- Click “Restore backup” or “Continue”. Accept the permissions.
- Choose the backup folder (“Signal”) and file.
- Enter the 30-digit passcode.
How to Backup Signal to the Desktop
You may want to move your Signal messages to a new computer. To do so, follow the steps below, depending on your OS:
- Quit Desktop version on the old device.
- Unlink the Desktop version. Click your profile picture, then select “Linked devices” > “Edit” > “Remove” for the desktop device > “Unlink”.
- Install and open the Desktop version on your new PC.
- Open Signal app on your phone, click on your profile picture, and select “Signal Settings”, then “Linked devices”.
- Click “Link New Device” for iOS or the plus icon for Android.
- Scan the QR code that appeared on your desktop with your phone.
- Name the linked device and click “Finish”.
- To remove the Signal data from your old computer, find the “Uninstall Signal.exe” file in C:\Users\ <YourName>\AppData\Local\Programs\signal-desktop and remove C:\Users\<YourName>\AppData\Roaming\Signal for Windows.
For macOS, remove the Signal.app file from the application directory, then remove local data from Library/Application Support/Signal.
For Linux, use the “apt-get remove signal-desktop” and remove the “~/.config/Signal”.
How to Decrypt Signal Data
All Signal messages are encrypted, meaning that no one, including the app, can read them, other than the people in conversation. This can sometimes cause issues with backups, as Signal doesn’t save your data to cloud storage. There is no official tool to decrypt your Signal data. However, it is possible with the help of GitHub.
- Visit the “Releases” page and download a binary file depending on your operating system.
- Run this link.
- Copy a backup file from the old device to the new device.
- Run this link to export messages.
- Run this link to export media.
If you own an iPhone, another method is to use the Elcomsoft Phone Viewer. The Elcomsoft iOS Forensic Toolkit can extract keychain items from your iOS device. The item is necessary for decryption.
- Install and launch the Elcomsoft app. Find the Signal file system image and open it through the app.
- Select the Signal icon, then choose the keychain file. The app will decrypt your data automatically.
Where can I find the Signal backup file on an Android phone?
The Signal backup file can be found in the backup folder. To access it, click on your profile picture, then select “Chats and media” > “Chat backups” > “Backup folder”.
What to do if I lost the 30-digit backup passcode?
The backup is impossible without the passcode, and the code can’t be restored. Therefore, to process the data transfer, you will have to start a new backup.
I have trouble transferring my data to an iOS device. What is the reason?
Several issues related to backing up Signal on iOS can arise.
The most common reason is that you have been registering too often. To solve it, wait for about an hour and try again.
If the QR code doesn’t scan, try increasing the screen brightness and holding the camera as close as you can.
Is the “Wrong Device” alert showing up after scanning the QR code? If so, your devices are likely not linked. Check the “Linked devices” settings that can be accessed by clicking on your profile picture and selecting “Signal Settings”.
Make sure you don’t exceed the limit of five linked devices. If you are using VPN or Firewall, allow the *.signal.org, *.whispersystems.org, and TCP port 443.
What to do if I have a new phone number?
If you have changed your number, you won’t be able to do a backup. To prevent missing messages, you may want to remove your old Signal account. Leave all your Signal groups from the old phone. Unregister the old phone number in the Signal app and download Signal to a new device. Re-link the Signal Desktop, if you were using one.
How to manage Signal permissions on my device?
If the app permissions are disabled, you may not be able to transfer your data.
To enable permissions on devices with Android, open the Settings app and navigate to Apps and Notifications. Then, find the Signal app icon, click on it and select “App Permissions”.
If you own an iOS device, open the iPhone Settings app and navigate to “Signal” or “Privacy”. Through the “Privacy” settings, you can manage particular permissions for each app. For example, allow only the use of a microphone or location for all apps. In Signal settings, you can manage all permissions only for the Signal app.
The permissions requested by Signal are:
Location – enables GPS to identify your location.
Contacts – necessary for the backup function. Gives the app access to all contacts on your phone.
Photos – gives Signal access to your gallery. You have to enable this permission to backup media.
Local Network – Signal uses this permission only to transfer data to your new device. By default, it will be disabled until you switch it on.
Microphone – allows the use of voice messages.
Background App Refresh and Cellular Data – this permission is necessary for receiving and sending messages with no delays.
Why does my device show that there were no backups?
If your last backup information says “Never”, you have to make sure that app permissions and backups are enabled. To do that, visit your phone’s settings, locate the Signal app permissions and turn all of them on. Try freeing up some space on your device and remove your SD card so that the backup can be saved to the device’s internal memory instead.
Keeping in Touch
Backups are necessary for saving your contacts, information, and memories stored in the app. Your data should now be transferred to a new device, whether you own an Android or iOS device, or are using a computer. If you have lost your number or are still experiencing issues, try your device’s support. This can normally be found on the official website or in settings.
Have you ever had any issues with backup on Signal? How did you get around the problem? Let us know in the comments section below.