WhatsApp is one of the most popular chat messaging apps in the world, and for good reason. It’s easy to use, works on most smartphones, it’s secure – but best of all it’s free. But that is about to change for some WhatsApp users following an announcement from Google.
From early next year, WhatsApp backups will count towards your personal Google account’s cloud storage limit on Android phones. Backups are copies of your chat history of all messages, images, and videos so you can restore all your chats if you lose your phone or get a new one.
On Android, you have to backup your WhatsApp chats in the app by linking your personal Gmail account. The backups live in Google cloud storage, but do not count towards your personal account’s limit, which is at least 15GB for all Google account holders. Under the change, backups will count towards your storage – so if this tips you over the 15GB free cloud storage limit, you’ll have to pay Google for more storage.
A quick glance at our phone at Express.co.uk shows us with more than 4GB of data in our WhatsApp backup. That’s nearly a third of the free storage Google offers customers. The next storage tier up from 15GB is 200GB – a lot more – but it costs £2.49 per month. Many WhatsApp users on Android can expect to have to pay this charge when the change comes into effect.
In a blog post, Google said the change will first roll out in December 2023 to anyone on the beta version of WhatsApp, with everyone else seeing it come to their phones in early 2024.
“WhatsApp backups on Android will continue to work, as long as you have available space within your Google Account storage,” a Google community manager said. “If you hit your storage limit, you’ll need to free up space to resume backups by removing items you do not need.
“If you have a personal Google Account, our storage management tools can help you do things like removing large files or photos. You can also delete items directly from WhatsApp. Deleting items from WhatsApp deletes them from your cloud storage, reducing storage used by your next WhatsApp backup. You also have the option to get more storage with Google One.”
You can view all the pricing for extra Google cloud storage here. WhatsApp users on iPhone have long had to have their backup count against their iCloud storage, of which Apple only gives everyone 5GB for free. Google is reversing a decision it made in 2018 to offer backups for free, reverting to the original situation that Android WhatsAppers will again find themselves back in come 2024.
It’s a good idea to backup your WhatsApp chats. They have become full of personal and private data, from messages to loved ones, to family photos, to addresses, to bank account details. If you lose your phone and have not backed up your chats to your Google account, you cannot recover them and those precious memories will be lost forever.