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Saturday, March 19, 2005
Saving SMS Messages

How hard can it be to extract an SMS message from your cellphone? Recently I've been attempting to solve this dilemna and transfer my saved SMS messages from a Samsung mobile r225m. Part of the problem is that I'm running out of memory space and since I've become addicted to this is getting chronic. Any chance to get a word definition or the latest weather forecast or movie showtimes and locations and I'm texting Google. I admit to being a communications hoarder and my desire extends even to SMS, in justification I don't keep everything.

As I've researched this issue I've learned lots of interesting things about my phone, including that SMS messages are saved in the phone memory and not on the SIM card, the limitations of my phone book and that T-Mobile doesn't provide any useful tools to help organize your mobile communications.

At the very least I wish wireless providers would make it easier for personal phone books to be backed-up. I dread the day when my phone stops working or is lost and I have to re-enter all my numbers into a new phone. The one useful service that T-Mobile offers is a place where you enter multiple phone numbers into a web-based form which then sends your phone an SMS message automatically populating your Phone Book. If only this list could be saved online and re-applied whenever needed. T-Mobile are you listening?

Other possible SMS Backup Solutions:

1. Forwarding messages to e-mail: This doesn't work for me because this phone model doesn't support editing an existing message to add the required address.
2. Save an e-mail address in the phone book and forward SMS's to this: Great idea if your phone supports this feature. My Samsung only lets phone #'s be saved.
3. Forwarding to another phone and resending: This works if the other phone allows editing of forwarded messages, but then you have to spend lots of time forwarding and editing. And you have to retype message header details.
4. Forwarding messages to a SmartPhone: This probably works, and with a Treo or similar wireless Palm device you can then easily extract the messages and beam to a PDA.
5. Retyping each message in a text editor: Yeah right! Maybe for those real important messages. But no chain of evidence exists if you want to keep the message for court battles.
6. Forward messages to fax: Could work, but my phone doesn't support sending faxes. And I can't find any online SMS/fax gateway services.
7. Connect a data cable/infrared and sync: Only works if your phone saves messages on the SIM card, and most sync software is designed to transfer address book details only.
8. Forward messages to a web-based SMS account: This should work as long as the service creates an numeric reply-to address. Create a test message on the website and send to your phone. Write down the sender/reply code, open up another message and then forward this to the reply code. Your message should show up on the website under "Your Messages." Some services even send you an automatic e-mail copy. Envelope details probably still need to be attached to the extracted messages.
9. Buy a new phone that allows SMS's to be transferred!! But I love this phone and I would be loath to give it up.

Option #8 ends up being my recommended choice, with a dash of #5 thrown in where necessary. Strangely enough I can't forward saved copies of my outgoing messages. But why are there no SMS-FAX services? I would think a market exists for this capability.

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