Texts You Should Back Up (And Texts You Should Delete Forever)

Photo via Damn You Auto Correct

Losing your phone is a nightmare for numerous reasons: The risk of identity theft, dealing with the insurance company (you have insurance, right?), scoring a replacement device, hounding heads for their digits, the list goes on. Plus, if you haven’t backed up your data, there’s another emotional toll: All your text messages are gone.

Maybe that’s no big loss, if those texts were just emoticons or “b there soon.” And maybe some of ‘em were kinda embarrassing. But what if some were emotional keepsakes? Or, even more tragic, sexy communiques from long lost hotties?

Text messages are traded so quickly that it’s sometimes hard to know just how permanent you’d like them to be. Here’s a rundown on the texts you should savor (and back up ASAP) and the ones you need to let go.

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1. KEEP: High-Value Information

Your friend sends you his address while you’re visiting from out of town. Your parents send you the combination to the safe. Your girlfriend sends you her bra size or mentions your anniversary date. You’ll never otherwise remember this stuff–especially the anniversary date–so make damn sure you have backups to the backups.

2. DELETE: Potential Evidence

You don’t want incriminating information on your phone. If a thief steals it, you’ve got a potential blackmail situation. If a cop confiscates it during an arrest, you’re going to jail for sure. (Of course, deleting evidence to impede an investigation can get you hit with a conspiracy charge. But, you know, every little bit helps.) Oh, it’s coded, you say? Nobody can crack it, you say? Newsflash, Robert Langdon: Your codes are straight up elementary.

3. KEEP: Sexts

For better or worse, these are the love letters of our time. Those filthy notes (and filthier photos) might not be a source of romantic nostalgia, but they can certainly provide erotic nostalgia–especially for when you’re suffering through a drought in the action department.

4. DELETE: Moments Of Shame

Some sexts could qualify, but we’re really talking about the radioactive messages (responses to drunken rants, ill-advised professions of love, etc.) that punch you in the gut and burn your cheeks. These are the ones that you don’t want to read, can’t read, still haven’t read. Probably never will.

5. KEEP: Heart-Swellers

Your grandmother probably texts now. If you have a soul, keep those messages. Cherish them. (And don’t accidentally send her a dong shot.)

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Michael McGrath (@marcomcgrath) is a freelance writer living in Connecticut.