I went deeper down the rabbit hole of Signal's lack of message backups on iOS, and discovered the Signal Desktop app works differently to WhatsApp - it does not require any connection to the phone, instead it syncs directly from the server. Using the desktop app you can achieve proper backups, however it requires near 24/7 uptime if you are a heavy user, as only the 1000 newest messages are cached on the server. Any messages beyond the buffer of 1000 while the desktop client is offline will never sync to it.
If you have a 24/7 non-headless machine with any OS, you have things way easier and you don't need this guide. (Just install Signal as normal and leave it running all the time.) I only have headless Linux servers running 24/7, so if that is you then read on.(more…)