WhatsApp Change May Hit Google Storage

John Lister's picture

WhatsApp users on Android could hit storage limits thanks to a change in Google policy. However, claims it could mean a "shock new fee" are misleading at best.

Users of the popular messaging app can have their messages, including videos and images, automatically backed up from an Android device. However, WhatsApp itself does not handle the backup or store the data. Instead the backup is on Google Drive.

Because WhatsApp doesn't hold backups itself, the Google Drive backup may be the only way to restore data when moving to a new phone, particularly when the old handset is broken or unavailable.

Since 2018, a deal between Google and WhatsApp meant any data backed up this way didn't count towards the user's ordinary Google Drive storage limit that's available to anyone with a Google account.

Video Attachments May Eat Up Storage

However, Google has now reversed that policy. Existing WhatsApp backups will continue, but will now count towards the limit like any other files. Google also notes that if the user hits their storage limit on Google Drive, WhatsApp will be unable to backup and may experience other glitches.

The actual impact of this on most users may be minimal given the limit on the free Google Drive account is 15GB. WhatsApp backups will usually only use a significant amount of data if they have a lot of high-resolution images or, particularly, videos.

It's also worth remembering that the 15GB limit is for all data backed up to Google, which for many people will include their entire Gmail history, often including attached files. The WhatsApp policy change is more likely to unexpectedly tip somebody over the 15GB limit rather than the WhatsApp backup use up the allowance by itself.

No Hidden Fees

Some of the reporting of the story has been overblown with suggestions of financial costs such as unexpected fees. These appear to be spurious references to the option to pay a monthly charge to Google to raise the Drive storage limit. Despite the implication of some reports, nobody in this scenario will be forced to pay that charge or have it applied without their consent. (Source: mirror.co.uk)

Google notes that WhatsApp users can go into the storage section of the app's settings menu and remove data from backups. Filtering options including selecting and removing all attachments over 5MB and all messages that have been "forwarded many times."

The change in policy could also be a good time for users to check through their Google Drive and remove any large files they no longer need. (Source: google.com)

What's Your Opinion?

If you use WhatsApp on Android, did you know it was backed up to Google Drive? If you use Google Drive, do you know how much space you have left? Is paying for online storage ever worth it?

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Focused100's picture

I didn't know Whatsapp stores it's data on google drive but i don't care because I have enough room. I pay 2 buck a month for 200 gig between my wife and I. I have had a gmail account since 2004 so I can use the extra storage for pics and emails