Allow exporting a backup from Signal Desktop #522

strugee opened this Issue Dec 16, 2015 · 14 comments


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6 participants

strugee commented Dec 16, 2015

It would be great if you could export backups from Signal Desktop in the same way you can export them from Signal for Android. I've just lost a huge amount of conversations and private keys because of WhisperSystems/Signal-Android#4577, and I'd like to at least partially restore my data from my desktop install.


Would really like this too. My phone died, meaning all my messages will be lost even though I can see them in Signal Desktop still...

pabloferz commented Sep 20, 2016 edited

Yeah, this would really be a life saver.

nomeata commented Oct 25, 2016

I have systematic backups of my messages in Facebook, jabber, ICQ, Telegram. A good backup of my signal messages (including pictures) is direly needed!

strugee commented Oct 25, 2016

@nomeata please don't bump issues.

Besides, you can already backup Signal messages from mobile. At least, you can in the Android app. It doesn't include pictures but I believe someone's working on that too.


Actually, this depends on your use case for signal desktop. If you swap phones often (different SIMs for different countries), then your phone is the only source of truth for your message history, as signal desktop blows away your history every time you re-register a device. Being able to make a backup and restore from the desktop client would mitigate that when you return from travel. I would find it really useful, as I found it surprising the desktop deleted my history the first time I did that.


The reality is mobile devices are lost, stolen, break etc. far more often than desktop computers which means messages will be lost, but remain on the desktop version. Not being able to export/backup from Signal Desktop means it's impossible to get them back in the mobile version.

Aside from exporting and being able to merge backups from the mobile/desktop versions, a way around this would be an option to auto-backup the encrypted message database to a cloud account or send to an email account. That way messages can be recovered when a device is lost etc.

iflowfor8hours commented Nov 3, 2016 edited

This is my point exactly. I lose and change devices constantly, and would like to have a canonical source of truth of messaging, which lives on my desktop. In the current case, I can't have that without backing up my device regularly and then syncing to a cloud service somewhere and using that as my history. I think we're in agreement here.
How can I help?

nomeata commented Dec 27, 2016

I have started implementing a feature for the Desktop client that would create a zip file consisting of all messages of (for now one) conversation, together with all media files. Let’s see how far I get (tomorrow).

@nomeata nomeata added a commit to nomeata/Signal-Desktop that referenced this issue Dec 28, 2016
@nomeata nomeata Prelimary backup support (#522)
=== What works:

Exporting text and media files of the currently visible conversation to
a zip file containing an HTML file with the text, including links to the
media files, as well as the media files. The Signal Desktop CSS file is
included to achieve the same styling as in the app (but without any
controls, which do not make sense in a static settings).


=== What does not work:

It does not yet load all messages back to the beginning of history.

The fonts are not included in the zip file, for even more proper

The conversation avatar (if present) is not included.

The code is far from being in good shape.

=== Note to reviewers

I know that the code is not a shape to be merged, but it works for me.
I am interested in cleaning it up to be mergable if the general
functionaliy is desired (i.e. I will not fix code cosmetics if in the
end the pull request is reject because the feature is not wanted.)
nomeata commented Dec 28, 2016

I noticed that this is issue more about an data export (that can be imported) than a archive export (which is meant to be readable independent of Signal), so I created a separate issue for that at #1013.


In issue #1017 it is mentioned that Signal Desktop stores unencrypted messages locally. Is this true? Does anyone know where these messages are stored?

My situation is as described by @ThoughtPhotography, my phone broke irreparably and I wasn't able to backup my conversations. I still have my Desktop client, with all the history. I would like to be able to download and save all my messages before I try installing signal on my new phone and linking desktop. It looks as though I'll have to uninstall/reinstall desktop to sync new phone's Signal, and I doubt my history will carry over.

strugee commented Feb 17, 2017

@jessebett you don't have to reinstall. You can relink Signal Desktop in its settings and your history will stay.


@strugee I don't want to stray too far from the thread issue, but can I relink in Desktop if I wasn't able to unlink first from Mobile? I don't see any option for that in my Desktop settings.

strugee commented Feb 17, 2017

@jessebett yes, you can.

nomeata commented Feb 17, 2017

In issue #1017 it is mentioned that Signal Desktop stores unencrypted messages locally. Is this true? >Does anyone know where these messages are stored?

Stored unencryptedly in Chrome’s IndexdDB.

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