How to: Backup and restore your text messages and call history | webOS Nation

How to: Backup and restore your text messages and call history 43

by Derek Kessler Tue, 13 Jul 2010 2:13 pm EDT

Text message backup... While we’re still waiting for our Palm Profiles to start backing up text messages and our call history, PreCentral reader Devon chimed in to let us know how to do it ourselves. Not only will this let you save your text messages for the potential of calamity - these backups can be used to transfer your messages and history to another webOS phone. The how-to of backing up and restoring is after the break.

Update: be sure to hit up the comments (especially volcom45's) on this post before attempting - this is definitely a power-user/at-your-own risk procedure.

To back-up:

  • Install Internalz from the Preware or WebOS Quick Install (you may have to perform a Luna restart to complete installation).
  • Open Internalz.
  • The SMS and call history database is located at /var/luna/data/dbdata/PalmDatabase.db3. In Internalz, navigate to this file (click on the “+” signs to open directories in Internalz, move back tapping the top entry in any directory).
  • Copy PalmDatabase.db3 by tapping on the file and selecting Copy.
  • Tap on the /media/internal in the “Copy to” scene and press select. /media/internal is the USB partition.
  • From here you can store the backed-up file on your device and/or copy it to your computer as with any other file from the USB partition.

Restoring works in reverse:

NOTE: Due to potential differences in the structure of the PalmDatabase.db3 file under different versions of webOS, you should only back-up from and restore-to the same version of webOS.

  • Install Internalz on your restored or new device.
  • If not already in /media/internal, copy the backed-up PalmDatabase.db3 file from your computer to the phone’s USB partition.
  • Open Internalz and navigate to /media/internal.
  • Tap on PalmDatabase.db3 and select Copy.
  • Copy the file to /var/luna/data.
  • Perform a Luna restart for good measure.

So there you have it, how to back up and restore your previous text messages and call history.

Thanks to Devon and MatthiasII in the forums!


This would have been useful circa several months ago. Definitely a good tip, though.

awesome, thank you!!

Hmmm, so how exactly is this different than what was published in this article 8 months ago: ?

To me the article published last November is better because you do not have to install any additional software (Internalz or Preware), you just straight use WOSQI.

I guess I don't mind a refresher for those who were not here back then, but maybe perchance at least a nod to the original article, and author Robert Werlinger, would have been worth it.

EDIT: LOL, I missed the link to the forums where this was originally discussed back on 6/18/2009 -- perhaps it was Robert Werlinger who should have given credit. ;-)


also it should be noted that member MatthiasII posted the command line instructions on 6/18/09 as well.

I'm just glad it was a little helpful to some people. I know the instructions are a little out of date now but hopefully still get the idea across.

I've been able to use the above method for two replacement phones and haven't had any issues yet. I know some people have said it causes them problems but not sure why.

Anyways, cheers and thanks everyone for the nod.

I agree. i've used this method multiple times with great sucess. Thanks for taking the time to write it up!

Unfortunately, this appears to work fine but causes other issues. I've done this exact process before on the same webos versions and while all my text messages are there, I can no longer send/receive MMS multimedia pics or videos. They just never do anything and stay gray. The only way to fix this was to do a webos doctor. So I'd caution anyone to not jump on this just yet.. this is why Save/Restore does not restore texts yet over reasons like this..

Hmm, I assume the best option would then be to backup the current Palm profile database before replacing it. That way if it borks your Pre (like you say), then replacing the original that was there prior to you replacing it should still work. No?

I've successfully restored my palm database without any issues regarding MMS or anything else for that matter. I don't know if this could be why but I put my phone in airplane mode and restart my phone before backing up/restoring the database to minimize the chance of something being written to the database or incomplete entries at the time of copying. As I said, I am only guessing this helps, and it may have just been luck that it worked for me and what I am doing is a waste of time.

I believe that "Pre Backup Utility" performs the same function (at least it's an option to backup messages). When I restored the backup, onto the same version, it messed up both my messages and contacts. When I would send a message it placed the message way up in the conversation, completely out of order. When I looked up an contact, it somehow changed the "master name" to another one in my contact list. However, I couldn't figure out how to fix this. So, I eventually Doctored my phone and restored the backup. I was very concerned that Palm would backup the corrupted contact DB, so I had to act quickly (the phone is backed up daily). Definitely USE AT YOUR OWN RISK!

Anyone know if recent acquisition of MotionBox & 2005 acquisition of Snapfish will impact Palm/WEBos? For video and cloud picture storage etc..

I'm pretty sure it was determined that this is NOT a safe way to transfer data between mobile devices.

I agree. I am very surprised this made the main page. I would almost advise to take this article down at the risk of people screwing up their phones. At least when the information was only in the forums, it was a little more hidden.

There have been multiple people that have had issues when copying over the database to a new device. This should not be recommended. Just my two cents.

What if Palm comes up with an update that will break the sqlite db structure one has backed up - it could cause a mess.
But still a good method I sometimes use it :)

skip this.. it works but takes a lot of work. I found out the easiest way to backup your phone is using 2 apps

1. save/restore
2. Pre backup utility (in preware)

save/restore has gotten a lot of publicity but pre backup utility hasn't.. i don't get why? its pretty simple to use.. and backs up pretty much everything on your phone, uncluding text and call history.

all you have to do is the following

download the pre backup utility app
open it up, and select backup
select everything you want to be backed up
it takes a while but it'll back it up as .gz file
take this out of the phone.

to backup
on the new phone put the .gz file in USB portion on the phone
set up your phone then go to the "backup" app and make it so it your stuff isn't backed up to palm and deletes everything on their servers.
open up pre backup utility and click restore, wait for it to finish and reboot

you should have everything back to the way your old pre was.
(worked for me, and my brother's pre)

I've been using this way, and it works perfectly.

PreCentral has yet to cover the Pre Backup Utility to my knowledge.

they covered it last week along with other backup methods.

Per my post above, I have used Pre Backup Utility and made several different backups (to try all of the options). So far I've had great luck with the Applications backup (no Settings). However, the messaging/call history/etc caused messaging to mess up and corrupted my contact DB. I recommend great caution while using this portion of the app. It's a great idea, however, I can't have it causing trouble with my contacts, I can sacrifice my messages...


I downloaded the Pre Backup utility and I launch it - but it just seems to be hanging - nothing happens for 6-7 h. I have a PRE2 v2.2.4.
Is there some steps I'm missing?


Thanks for the tip!

I've used the old WOSQI way multiple times, but I've never restored the files back to my phone bc of the problems I've read there any way to combine those files (even though they're across different versions) so that I can put them all back on my phone?...not a big deal but something i'd been wondering about before i keep collecting old db3 files.


I did this several times but I kept having problems with my Palm profile (last time it logged me out of my profile mid-day and it erased everything on my Pre).

Use with caution, and please, don't use te across different webOS versions.

I'm curious what exactly the point of backing up this info is. Do people really need all their texts and call history from 6 months or a year ago? There's value in backing up documents and emails, especially for those of us who use our phones for business. I can also see the value in backing up data from games. But backing up texts or call history? I just don't see the point.

Text comunication is valuable legal evidence. I don't know how many times I have watched People's Court and individuals claimed someone threatened them in a text message, yet was unable to produce the evidence because their phone only kept the last 300 messages. Records are records. They all have value. Also, I agree with earlier comments about the Pre-Backup Utility. When I used it all my texts were restored after doctoring.


I have six years of SMS storage in my Treo, that have the begin of my life with my Wife, our life and; now, messages about my little princess (with 01 year and six months).

ALL this SMS are VERY important to me, believe.

I REALLY wanna to transfer my SMS from Treo 680 to WebOS... but; until now, I have no sucess... :(

Best Regards...

That is a excellent reason, but if that is truly the case I would not just carry them around as SMS messages on my phone!

I would store them in a more stable media -- a document, or something. Remember what this is about is move SMS messages that can be read by the messaging application, not about archiving SMS messages.

EDIT: I guess you could read it as archiving. If that is the case, just having the DB3 datafile is not good enough, you will also need a tool to be able to read that -- like the sqlite plugin for FireFox, or something similar.

Wouldn't you restore the db file to " /var/luna/data/dbdata", as that is where it was copied from?

LOL, this article is borked all the way around. ;-)

Perhaps it was staged to be published and hadn't quite got all the "approvals" yet and slipped out before that happened.

Isn't all we really nead is a sqlite script that will read the data out of one .db3 file and insert it into another?

That would leave the remainder of the PalmDatabase.db3 file intact and not prone to corruption?

is this better than save/restore program in the HB?

This copy replace method is not safe. It causes at least one known issue that gets posted quite a lot. I wouldn't be surprised if the palm profile logged me out issue and related issues are caused by this as well. But this is only speculation until it can be confirmed. My point it recommending this method even with a warning of do at your own risk is not a good idea. Also the reason pre backup utility doesn't get much publicity is because of this sort of copy replace method used in it. While for certain types of files that is ok, but with complex databases with linkage and complexity that gets altered in the replacement is a bad thing. Also unlike the old palmOS days it is not necessary to backup every file. Only user data and cookies for the apps. Palm profile and preware handles the rest by reinstalling all the apps that were installed. Save/restore handles the process for the user data and cookies and a few other things like launcher icons and positions. As for a script to get messaging and anything else in palmdatabase that isn't covered by palm backup webos-internals needs one or more devs who know how to safely insert the data back into the database. Plus devs to figure out ways to automate the process of supporting apps and possibly other aspects. Currently it extracts data to an html file for external viewing of messaging. So I encourage everyone to help find dev(s) to make it happen so we have a safe way of getting a backup and restore of the stuff yet covered by palm backup. Also I encourage everyone to get involed in getting their apps supported by it. The more people invlolved the better it will get.

Actually, I think you are (thankfully) no longer correct. The lastest versions of Pre Backup are using sql statements to only pull specific things out of the palm database. The comment thread is huge for the app, but there are some gems in there. DrewPre is doing a great job of working on this app, especially with little programming background previously.

One thing I don't see mentioned above anywhere - the txts sections of the db can point off to data in the /var/luna/data/attachments directory - just copying the Palm Database without all of the associated files is asking for trouble.

Your point of the linkages between files, dbs, etc is well-taken -- a true backup strategy should really be coming from Palm directly, since they're probably the only ones who know all the linkages for sure...

I did this a while back, but it caused an error that shifted all of my calendar events by 19 hours. I lived with it for a while before realizing it was the db3 file. I tried fixing I by doctoring and kept using the same db3 file, but the error kept coming back until I abandoned my old texts.

Is the folder /var/luna/data/dbdata/ OR /var/luna/data/ ?

(former mentioned in 'backup' while latter in 'restore'.)

Sounds good and worked - but now about half of the contact images are broken/blank :-\

Bad experience with 1.4.5 on the german O2 Pre.

made me go back to palm profile so i wouldn't recommend this to anyone. not a clue if it'll atleast not need to be re-doctored as it obviously is reloading my palm profile. However sucks. While I don't blame precentral at all for this, most of us homebrewers who know what we are doing normally do do the stuff that says try at your own risk and maybe this should not have been posted quite yet? Anyway it's cool wish i would have worked though :)

It just worked perfectly for me - moved from a pre to a pre plus and all sms moved across - no photos either but I think that's just because facebook hasn't synced yet.

Thanks for posting!

mdthomas - that nearly caught me - its /var/luna/data/dbdata/ BOTH times.

These apps/programs all sound great, but what I need is a way to export/extract my Text Message Threads with Name, Date, and Timestamp intact.

Any suggestions, besides the scary, and unstable Internalz?

Thanks a million!

I totally agree. I think Android has a program that can backup txt messages to your google account. Maybe someone can find something to do this for WebOS, not necessarily for Google backup, but some backup that truly lets you backup/restore your sms when moving to another phone.

can i get some step by step help? i dont understand how to do this..

Thank you for this. I spent about 2 weeks researching the options for backing up SMS/Text messages. My Pre was usable, but really required a Doctor as some features were not working. Interestingly, I could not copy the .Db3 BACK onto the newly doctored Pre with WOSQI. However, after re-installing Preware and Internalz, replacing the file worked perfectly. I also backed up all attachments so that helped as well. I was using the same PP+ on Verizon, WebOS ver 1.4.5

Help! So...I did a complete backup of my old Palm Pre Plus onto a computer via USB, and when I tried to look at the directory structure of my new Palm Pre Plus, found out that my old Palm was essentially slicked other than the little bit of information that was stored on my Palm Profile.

How can I "rebuild" my Palm Pre...preferably the new one? Can I just copy back the whole directory structure, and magic happens? Or...what? ...and if there's a "what", could someone please post step-by-step instructions? I want my Calendar back as well as the SMS/MMS. The call log is not that important. HELP???


This doesn't seem to apply on my PRE2 v2.2.4?!

Where do I find it on this device and version?


Where is the db-file located on a veer?