Why keep old SMSs?

Steve Litchfield asks over at Tommi's S60 blog:

Why would anyone want to keep old SMS? Surely they're small, time-specific messages? By all means copy and paste some important snippet into a Note or similar, but I've seen customer smartphones with 1000 SMS stored on them and the RAM and flash memory hit is immense.

To me SMSs carry both emotional and informational content. I hated, hated, hated it when I lost my first SMS messages from Outi due to the fact that I was not able to backup the SMSs from my Nokia 3650 when I needed to empty the entire memory to run some work-related stuff on it. I've received (and sent) many emotion-packed text messages over the year. Some of them were worth storing; some of them were definitely not; and some of them... well, it probably would've have been better never to send them in the first place.

The nature of the text message is - as Steve points out - time specific. I would even characterize it as being mood-, situation-, location-, and context-specific, too. I guess the argument is that when those things cease to exist or be valid, the SMS loses its meaning, too. But you can reverse the argument as well - the SMS can be the thing that still ties you to that specific mood, situation, location or time. It can be a memory, as much as anything.

Then again, I store all my email, too.

How do you store your text messages? Do you write the most important down in a booklet (I know some people do)? Do you use folders (most Nokia phonse allow that these days)? Do you perhaps not care at all?


I used to store my text messages, when the devices had internal memory for a couple of dozed of them. But then the bastards increased the amount of memory. I stopped cleaning up my inbox, and the emotionally important messages drowned among thowsands of unimportant ones.

Then one day I ran out of memory.

And I noticed that the accumulated SMS messages took a huge chunk.

I pressed delete-all.

I felt a distant cry inside me. I think it was my heart.

--Tommi Vilkamo, 22-Mar-2006

For me SMSs are like a chewing gum. After a while it's good to throw them away and not chew them for too long... At least most of mine are like "will be there in 10 mins" or "I'm late". Nothing really mind blowing.

Then again, I store all my emails. For me emails are like a computer log. Need to keep, just in case! ;-)

--Sami Suomalainen, 22-Mar-2006

I save the really sweet, important ones in a text file on my pc. Not the safest way but beats having them in my cellphone. :-)

--Outi, 22-Mar-2006

I save the ones that have any important info - I'd remember the info itself without keeping the message, but I would probably not remember the time/date, unless I was able to check it from the original message. Whenever I have over twenty saved messages on the phone, I'll grab the info to a text file on my PC and clear the messages on the phone. With other messages, I usually delete them as soon as I send/receive them, cause otherwise they'd only build up..

--Stello, 22-Mar-2006

Many of the cheaper phones in the market have a very limited SMS capability. I guess that also contributes to the habits that people have...

--JanneJalkanen, 23-Mar-2006

Try mabber at http://www.mabber.com - it's a web and it's a mobile application - it's good and free.

--Olli, 25-Mar-2006

Nokia's LifeBlog saves everything you need (pictures taken, sms sent and received..etc.) from your phone to your Pc. You can then follow diary-like presentation of your life's events from there.

Great tool!


--Henrikki, 25-Mar-2006

I use gmail, and I treat my SMS inbox in exactly the same way - I don't delete anything. Why should I bother? I sync my phone with my PC and use desktop searching tools to index them. To me, SMS, IM and email are all part of a single conversation thread.

FWIW, my SMS inbox current contains 1,063 messages. I may run out of memory soon (900k left on the phone, bu 30MB left on the card) but at that point I'll just check that they're backed up properly on my PC and then wipe them all from my phone.

--PhilWilson, 28-Mar-2006

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