WhatsApp Chats Backed Up To Google Drive Will Soon Count Towards Your Storage Cap
WhatsApp is one of the most popular communication platforms in the world, and it reached that lofty position before it even had a backup solution. Beginning in 2015, the Facebook-owned app added support for Google Drive backup and restore. Google and WhatsApp inked a deal that ensured those backups would not count against the Drive storage quota, but the free ride is over. Starting in December, your WhatsApp backups no longer get special treatment on Google's servers.
WhatsApp lets you back up the entirety of your chats, along with the media you've sent and received. That makes restoring your data to a new device a snap, but the size of the backup can balloon to many gigabytes for people who've been using WhatsApp for years. That's why Google Drive's unlimited backup was such a nice deal.
Come next month, WhatsApp users on the beta release will see their backups again count against the Google Drive storage quota. You can forestall the inevitable by using the non-beta version, but the change will eventually roll out to all WhatsApp users. That should happen in the opening months of 2024.
For some, this change might not be a problem. Free Google drive accounts come with 15GB of space, three times more than Apple's free iCloud allotment. That could be plenty if you don't use Drive for anything else and are thrifty with your WhatsApp backups. However, it might also immediately put you over your storage limit.
In its announcement of the change, Google says that its storage management tools can help clear space to accommodate your WhatsApp backups. You can also delete content from the app itself, which will remove it from the cloud backup. Although, what Google probably wants is for heavy WhatsApp users to start paying for more storage. For $2 per month, Google will provide 100GB of Drive storage, which should be enough for even the heaviest WhatsApp users.
There's a small chance of a reprieve, though. Google says it will provide a one-time Google Drive promotion for eligible users to ease the transition—more on that to come. That could at least save you some money on a storage upgrade. You're potentially in the clear if your Google account is tied to a paid Workspace profile. Google says these accounts are not losing free WhatsApp storage "at this time." That's a bit ominous, but we'll take what we can get.