I have iMessages in iCloud disabled. However, when I bring new devices online, my message history is still synced to those devices.

How can I prevent this, and how long are messages retained by the server? Is there any documentation on how long Apple retains messages so that my message history isn’t pulled down to all of my devices?

E.g. I brought a laptop online that had been turned off for a month, and hundreds of iMessages were synced to the computer despite iMessage for iCloud being off on all of my devices.

  • If you open up iCloud storage, do you see "Messages" taking up space?
    – Ezekiel
    Commented Feb 15, 2022 at 14:56
  • @Ezekiel no, I don’t. In fact, Messages doesn’t even appear on the list of items that are taking up space. Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 16:05
  • I've just posted an answer - since your device was not a new device, it makes sense. The time that messages are retained when undelivered is 30 days.
    – Ezekiel
    Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 16:32
  • New devices would not have received these messages, since they're sent directly to devices not to the account itself. When delivered I believe they are discarded. I included a link in my answer to apple's website on this.
    – Ezekiel
    Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 16:32

2 Answers 2


Apple keeps messages for up to 30 days when it is unable to deliver them before discarding them. If the device is turned on before this timer elapses, then all messages are delivered.


Enabling Messages in iCloud allows any of your devices to store messages in iCloud. This means that so long as you have a device that's received the iMessage, all your devices will see it when turned on, no matter how long it's been. Messages in iCloud purely affects the post-delivery experience.

New devices that have never been on your iMessage before can only get message history when Messages in iCloud is enabled. If they were not previously registered, no undelivered messages exist for them when powered on.

If you were to go back you would find a gap between the oldest message before you turned your device off and the most recent ones that just appeared.

  • More than comprehensive. Thank you! Commented Feb 17, 2022 at 17:13

On your settings go to your contact settings and change your default account to on this iPhone thank me later

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