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How To Recover Deleted Facebook Messages

So you had this great Facebook conversation but accidentally deleted the messages, thankfully there are several ways to recover the deleted messages, even if they are permanently gone!
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Your Facebook conversation is going great, you’re really hitting it off. Next thing you know, the other person it’s who you thought they were and you find yourself, in a moment of frustration, deleting the entire Facebook message thread.

Thankfully, there are 4 different options we have to recover those messages, we’ll cover them below with an increasing amount of work and potential embarrassment 😳.

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4 Ways To Recover Your Deleted Facebook Messages

The truth is these four methods have worked for us in the past. In addition, we’ve tested out each method several times to make sure it will actually work for you. While we can’t 100% guarantee you can recover the messages, these offer a very good solution.

The faster you act the better, don’t wait months after deleting your conversation and then try to recover it, it will be significantly harder and less likely.

1. Recover Facebook Messages Using Archive

The first method we’ll use to recover your Facebook messages is through using the not so well known archive feature. Facebook has an intermediate location where messages go (depending on how you deleted the conversation) and can be recovered. Let’s check!

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 Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to access your archived messages on the Messenger app itself so we recommend either using Facebook on a computer or using the Facebook MBasic site here if you’re on your iPhone.
  1. Head over to your Facebook Messenger Thread here.
  2. Click on the little gear icon at the top left.
  3. Select Archived Chats.
  4. Look for the messages that you thought you may have deleted.

Keep in mind, this method only works if you specifically selected to archive a conversation and didn’t select to delete a conversation. If you did, in fact permanently delete it then let’s go through your next options to recover the messages. You should remember to always archive and not delete your messages. Follow Facebook’s archive guide here.

If you put the messages in archive instead of deleted them then method 1 works to recover archived messages.

2. Recover Facebook Messages By Asking Your Friend!

We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone. -- Orson Welles

The next step we recommend taking is simple but can be embarrassing if you had a rough patch with your friendship and you’re not in the best spot.

We recommend, if appropriate, asking the friend who you were having the conversation with to send you the conversation considering they didn’t delete it as well!

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There are a couple of issues with this option. Namely, you have to admit to the person you were chatting with that you deleted the conversation. Secondly, there’s no way for that friend to automatically “insert” the messages back into your Messenger.

The best they can do is take a screenshot of your recent messages and send that to you. Alternatively, they could also just copy and paste the entire message thread and send it to you as a text file. If this doesn’t seem like a good option you do have 2 more options! So head below!

If you’re in good enough relations with the friend you were chatting with, you could ask them to copy the entire message thread and send it to you as a backup.

3. Recover Facebook Messages By Checking Your Email

This next option is to look through your emails to make sure you didn’t get the conversation emailed to you, which is a setting in Facebook. Depending on your current notifications settings you could have it so that Facebook will email you with new messages.

Keep in mind, this won’t have the entire Facebook conversation thread in one email but just an email with the latest message that was sent to you. So you won’t have a copy of the entire thread.

But, for example, you need proof someone said something this could be a perfect option. To check your Facebook notification settings follow these steps

We recommend following the steps below to turn on notifications if you don’t already, that way you won’t lose a conversation that you accidentally deleted in the future!

  1. Open Facebook.com on a desktop browser.
  2. Tap the down arrow at the top right.
  3. Click Settings.
  4. On the lefthand column select Notifications.
  5. Scroll down to Email under “How You Get Notifications.”
  6. Select Email and see if “All notifications, except the ones you turn off” is selected. It should be toggled on to get emails about conversations. If it is, you’re in luck!
  7. Next, head over to your email and type in the friend’s name who you were having a conversation with. You may want to search in the trash folder and the spam folder to make sure you’re not missing the email hiding somewhere.
This recovery method works only if you have email notifications turned on for Facebook conversations but if you do, you have a record of the message in your email!

4. Recover Facebook Messages By Downloading Your Facebook Data

Here we go, the last and most labor-intensive option. BUT, it does work where all others fail! This is a great option and really doesn’t take all that much effort, just a bit of time and sorting through a list of files to find the deleted messages.

What you will do here is download your Facebook data and hope that the deleted conversation is still retained in the Facebook database. If it is, you can open it and see the conversation in full. Facebook, unfortunately, doesn’t publicize how often they update their database so we can’t be sure when exactly it will be deleted from the database.

What’s clear is that even though you delete it from Facebook.com it can still be on the Facebook databases until it gets permanently purged. At that point, the conversation is gone with no way to recover it beyond using method 2 above and asking your friend for a copy of the conversation.

Let’s dive into how you go about this recovery method!

download facebook data
  1. Head over to Facebook.com.
  2. Click the little drop-down arrow at the top right.
  3. Click on Settings.
  4. At the top left go to “Your Facebook Information”
  5. Find “Download Your Information -- Download a copy of your information to keep, or to transfer to another service.” and click view next to it.
  6. Select “Deselect All” at the top right since we only want your messages. If you select everything that will be more files you have to sort through and it will take longer to prepare the download file.
  7. Scroll down and toggle on the “Messages” box.
  8. Scroll up and click “Create File”
  9. Now, you will have to wait about 5 min for Facebook to prepare the download file. See the steps below on how to download and navigate the folder files to find the conversation.

Now, the second part of this process will be to download and open the zipped file and search for the deleted conversation. So, give it about 5 minutes and wait for the notification that Facebook has completed your file and when it is, see below for the steps on navigating through the files.

Ok, so you got a notification that the download file is ready! Here’s what to do next.

  1. You’ll get a little notification on Facebook.com saying your download is ready.
  2. Click on “Your Facebook information file is ready to download.”
  3. It will take you to a screen that looks like the screenshot above.
  4. Click Download next to the file you want to download.
  5. This will download a zipped file to your downloads or desktop folder.
  6. Unzip the file and open the folder.
  7. Click on messages and scroll down to the Facebook conversation you accidentally deleted. *Note, it will be in the inbox folder if it was most recently in inbox. Alternatively, you can look in the “Archived_threads” folder.
  8. Once you find the conversation, open the folder and click on “message_1.html” to open the archive copy of the deleted messages.
You can recover messages as long as there hasn’t been much time between deleting them and downloading the archive of your personal data from Facebook.

That’s it, hopefully, you see the deleted conversation in the downloaded archive data. If so, you now have a permanent copy of the conversation so be sure to keep it in a safe place and backup the file if need be!

How To Prevent Losing Facebook Messages In The Future

Now that we’re at this point in the guide we hope that you’ve safely recovered your messages and you’re happy as a clam! But, now we recommend taking some steps so that this won’t happen again. Namely, we want to make sure you’re aware of how to manage your messages and have backups regularly!

Here are some tips that we use ourselves to make sure you don’t lose any messages in the future. While it’s a bit of a dry read, we recommend skimming through Facebook’s data policy as well.

  1. First and foremost, it’s important to backup what you care about on your personal computer. Backing up your Facebook data is relatively easy. Just follow the steps above in method 4 and place the entire folder in a “Facebook backup” folder on your computer. You may never need it but if you do need it you’ll be happy you have it!
  2. If someone said something you think is important, take a quick screenshot of the conversation or copy the text. From there, put it in an email and email it to yourself so that you have a record that someone said something. Ever had an agreement gone sour on Facebook? Well, this would provide proof that the person said what they said and you can use that!
  3. Lastly, remember to always hit “Archive” on message threads that you don’t want anymore instead of hitting “delete” that way they are simply archived for you to access later on.

Do Facebook Message Recovery Services Work?

You may find yourself in a dire situation, you absolutely need a message back and the 4 methods above didn’t work! You may be tempted to look for some of the recovery services that promise to get those conversations back.

DON’T TRUST MESSAGES LIKE THIS ONE!

WARNING: Do not trust any person or company that claims they can recover your messages.

Why? Well, first of all, the only way that someone would be able to get your messages is one of two ways. To either hack into your phone or hack into Facebook. The second one we can rule out that likely some random person or company can’t hack into one of the largest companies in the world with the sole purpose of getting your messages back. Let alone the illegality of it!

So, these hackers are basically trying to dig into your phone or computer’s internal files and get any saved cache of the message. You should NOT trust any hacker with full access to your iPhone, Mac, etc. The potential for them to cause more harm than good is so much higher than the likelihood that they will actually get your messages back!

You can report a Facebook malicious user or someone pretending to be a hacker here.

Can / Will Facebook Recover My Messages If I Ask?

The short answer, unfortunately, is no. Facebook won’t do anything if you permanently delete your messages and want them to go digging through Facebook’s backups to see if they have your message stored in a database somewhere.

It simply isn’t a good use of their time, from their perspective, since it could potentially take hours for them to find a message and multiply that out to their billion-plus users!

***However, there may be a situation where Facebook will help you!

If you have a legal reason to recover messages and have a lawyer or law enforcement on your side you may be able to get these messages back.

You’ll want to head over to this page: https://www.facebook.com/safety/groups/law/guidelines/

From there, pay special attention to the text that states:

A search warrant issued under the procedures described in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure or equivalent state warrant procedures upon a showing of probable cause is required to compel the disclosure of the stored contents of any account, which may include messages, photos, videos, timeline posts, and location information

Therefore, if you have a warrant or if the messages are part of a legal case you may have the ability to request Facebook for the messages even if they were deleted!

Of course, this rules out the cases where you’re simply mad at your ex-boyfriend and then makeup but it does provide options where someone is scammed out of money on Facebook or if there is a stalker or harassment case.

Best of luck!

Trevor Nace

Trevor Nace is the founder of How-To Apps. He has a PhD from Duke University and has been in the tech space and writing about tech for a number of years. He previously started and ran an app website and his articles on apps have been read millions of times around the globe. You can find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

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