Note: While you will lose ongoing conversation when moving from WhatsApp to Signal, you can export a copy of your conversations and keep it as a reference in the chat with the same people. We have shown the steps in our guide linked above.
How to Back Up and Restore Signal Chats
Since Signal is incredibly high up on the security ladder, the app doesn’t back up any of your data by default. And, even when it does, backups are local on your device and not on Signal’s servers or on cloud services like Google Drive or iCloud. Both of those are good things.
In this article, we will walk you through how you can back up and restore your Signal chats on an Android device, and how you can manage your local backups. As always, you can use the table of contents below to skip over to any relevant section.
How to Enable Signal Chat Backup in Android
As mentioned above, by default, Signal keeps backups disabled on your phone. That means, if you want to backup your Signal chat to ensure you don’t lose your data, or if you’re switching to a new phone, you will first have to enable backups. Here’s how.
- Open the Signal app and tap on the ‘profile’ icon on the top left. Tap on ‘chats and media’.
- Scroll down and tap on ‘chat backups’ and then tap on ‘Turn on’.
- Signal will show you a passphrase on a pop up. Make sure you note this down because you will not be able to restore your backup without the codes. Tap on ‘enable backups’ once you’ve noted the passphrase.
- Now, you can tap on ‘Create backup’ to create new backups whenever you want. This will also show you when you created the last backup on your phone.
How to Restore Signal Backup in Android
Now that you have backups created on your phone, let’s take a look at how to restore these. There are two reasons you may want to restore a Signal backup on your phone.
Either you’re re-installing Signal on the same phone, or you’re moving to a new smartphone entirely. In both these cases, as long as you’re switching from Android to Android, you can easily restore your Signal backups. Let’s take a look at how you can do this.
Restore on Same Smartphone
If you’re restoring your Signal chat backup on the same Android phone, here’s what you need to do.
- First, you need to locate where the backup is stored. You can find this by going to ‘Settings -> chats and media -> chat backups’ and seeing what the backup folder is mentioned as. In my case it’s “/storage/emulated/0/Signal/Backups/”
- Use any file manager app and go to this location, and copy the file that has a name like “signal-year-month-date-time.backup”. Move this to a computer, or a storage device for safe-keeping.
- Now re-install Signal on your phone. Give it the required permissions and Signal will automatically detect the local backup on your phone. Simply tap on ‘restore backup’.
- Enter the passphrase you noted down when the backup was created and tap on ‘restore’.
Restore on New Smartphone
If you’re switching to a new smartphone, here’s what you need to do.
- Copy the Signal folder from your old phone into the /Internal Storage/ directory of the new phone.
- Next, install Signal on your new phone and give it the required permissions. It will automatically detect the backup.
- Tap on ‘restore backup’, enter the passphrase for your backup and tap on ‘restore’.
Q. Can I restore Signal backup without the passphrase?
No, the passphrase is like a key for the backup. If you forget or misplace this passphrase, you will not be able to restore the backup. Make sure you note down the passphrase somewhere before proceeding with enabling backups on your phone.
Q. Can I transfer Signal chats between Android and iPhone?
Signal chats can only be transferred between Android -> Android, iPhone -> iPhone, iPhone -> iPad, etc. You can’t transfer chats between Android and iPhone.
Q. Signal backup says ‘registered too often’ when restoring?
If Signal shows the ‘registered too often’ error when restoring backups, just wait for an hour or so and try restoring again.
Easily Backup and Restore Signal Chats
So that’s how you can back up and restore your Signal chats on an Android device. As mentioned before, Signal doesn’t back up your chats to the cloud, which is great for security. Moreover, chat backups are protected by an encrypted key which ensures that your backups can’t be read by anyone unless they have access to that key. So make sure that you keep the key in a safe place.
So, do you like making Signal chat backups on your phone? Let us know in the comments down below. Also, if you’re facing any issues, you can shoot your questions here as well and we will definitely try and help you out. Also, if you are still on the fence, check out our article on Signal vs Telegram vs WhatsApp, to see if the switch is worth the hassle or not.