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PSA: WhatsApp backups won’t be free anymore on Android

Published Jan 2nd, 2024 8:36AM EST
WhatsApp for Android will look like iOS counterpart
Image: José Adorno for BGR

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Most people are still recovering after their New Year’s celebrations, but there is one piece of tech news you shouldn’t ignore in early 2024. If you back up your WhatsApp chats via Google Drive on Android, you should know that your storage space will no longer be free. Instead, the backups will count towards your Google Drive storage.

That’s not necessarily a problem if you’re a paying subscriber to one of the premium Google One cloud storage plans. But you’ll have to make changes if you’re still relying on the default 15GB of free Drive storage that comes with every Google account.

As GizmoChina reminds us, WhatsApp announced the backup change last month. As WhatsApp explained at the time, “In the coming months, if you choose to backup your WhatsApp chats on an Android device, your backup will start counting toward your Google Account storage limit.”

Going over that storage limit will mean backups no longer work until you free up space.

Of note, it’s not just Google Drive documents and WhatsApp chats that will take up storage space. Gmail and other Google properties might store data there. As a result, that 15GB of storage might fill up quickly.

You can find out exactly how much storage you have left at this link.

Also, go to your phone’s settings app and see exactly how much storage WhatsApp takes up on your phone. Then, you can take steps to reduce the backup footprint by deleting unnecessary media files from conversations. Not all the photos, images, and documents you share with family and friends should be saved in your backups.

Google One cloud service.
Google One cloud service. Image source: Google

WhatsApp said it’ll start testing the backup change with Beta users in December. It’ll then “slowly” roll out the feature to Android users in the first half of 2024. Before the change happens, you’ll get a notification. You’ll see the not some 30 days before the change via a banner that will show up in WhatsApp.

Still, if you’re on the free Google account plan, storage could soon become a problem. The simplest way to fix it is to increase the storage space by getting on Google’s One premium cloud storage plans. The cheapest one starts at $1.99 per month and gets you 100GB of storage. You can choose the one that fits your needs at this link.

You can also stop backing up chats to the cloud and use WhatsApp’s Chat Transfer feature to move chats to a new device when upgrading phones. You’ll lose access to those chats if your handset is lost or stolen.

Finally, you can choose text-only cloud backups for WhatsApp chats. You’ll lose photos and videos from those chats, but it’s a way to limit the amount of storage backups will use.

As you can see, you have some time until WhatsApp backups start counting towards your Google Drive storage. But you should start planning now if you think it might be a problem. WhatsApp’s Android backups FAQ update should come in handy.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.