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May 23, 2024

WhatsApp Ends Free Google Drive Backups for Android Users

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Jan 2, 2024

WhatsApp has announced that starting January 1, 2024, unlimited free backups to Google Drive will no longer be available for Android users. Backups will now count towards a user’s total Google Drive storage quota.

WhatsApp Announces Paid Cloud Storage Model

In a statement released on January 1st, 2024, WhatsApp revealed that it is shifting to a paid model for cloud backups to “help support” cloud storage on Google Drive.

“We are announcing changes to our cloud storage program. Starting January 1, 2024, WhatsApp will no longer provide unlimited free backups for Android device users via Google Drive, and backups will start counting toward your Google Drive storage quota,” the statement said.

With over 2 billion monthly active users globally, WhatsApp is one of the most widely-used messaging platforms in the world. The app has until now offered free unlimited backups to Android users’ phones and media via Google Drive integration.

Backlash from Android Users

The abrupt announcement caught many Android users by surprise, with outrage spreading on social media platforms. Many users felt betrayed that a previously free and unlimited service was suddenly being revoked.

“This sucks. I rely on WhatsApp backups to store my data, and now they want me to pay? Give me a break,” tweeted @whatsappuser1234.

“No more free backup from 2024! Terrible news,” posted Instagram user @androider2021.

Several users started hashtag campaigns like #BoycottWhatsAppBackups and #BringBackFreeWhatsAppBackups to voice their displeasure.

How Backup Storage Works on WhatsApp

WhatsApp offers its users the ability to schedule regular backups of their message history and media to the cloud. This acts as a recovery mechanism in case a user loses their phone or switches devices.

Here is an overview of how WhatsApp backup storage works:

Storage Location Description
Google Drive Backups for Android users are stored in the user’s Google Drive account
iCloud Backups for iPhone users are stored in the user’s iCloud account
Local Storage Users can also configure local backups to their device’s storage

By default, backups occur daily, weekly, or monthly, with media files being included or excluded as per the user’s settings.

Backup Size Restrictions

With the latest changes, Android users’ backups will now start eating into their default 15GB Google Drive storage quota.

WhatsApp currently allows each user to store up to 12,000 chat conversations and media files like photos and videos in their backup. The backup size upper limit is increased in a tiered manner based on the length of time the user has been on WhatsApp:

WhatsApp Account Age Maximum Backup Size
Up to 1 year 2GB
1-2 years 5GB
2-4 years 10GB
4+ years Unlimited

So users with older WhatsApp accounts will get some leeway with larger backup allowances. However, once the limit is reached, users will need to start paying for extra storage.

WhatsApp’s Reasoning Behind the Change

With over 1 billion users in India alone, WhatsApp is trying to find ways to monetize its massive user base. Parent company Meta has been struggling financially, with its stock price plunging 60% last year.

In a statement, WhatsApp said:

“We are implementing backup limits to help support Google’s existing free storage policies for Drive. We believe Drive should be focused on serving the storage needs for Google’s first-party consumer and enterprise services, rather than the needs of our messaging service.”

Essentially, WhatsApp is offloading the storage costs to Google Drive users rather than continuing to bear that financial load themselves.

How Much Could Extra Storage Cost?

Google Drive’s paid plans start at $1.99 per month for 100GB of storage. Assuming the average WhatsApp backup size is 2GB, users could end up paying $24 per year for backup storage if they exceed the free 15GB quota.

Additionally, Google offers discounted annual plans, which brings down the effective monthly cost. Overall though, users are still looking at an extra recurring expense that didn’t previously exist.

WhatsApp Alternatives Gain Traction

On the heels of the backup storage announcement, rival messaging apps like Telegram and Signal have seen a noticeable uptick in new Android signups. Both Telegram and Signal offer free unlimited cloud backups on their platforms.

Other messaging platforms like iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and Line provide free user backups without storage caps. This could lead to further erosion of WhatsApp’s market share in 2024 if unsatisfied users continue migrating to alternative options en masse.

How Users Can Manage Backups

To avoid getting charged for overages, WhatsApp suggests users proactively manage their backup sizes.

Here are some tips to reduce backup size:

  • Exclude media from backups: This will prevent large photos/videos from being backed up.
  • Delete old chats/messages: Removing unused/unwanted conversations will reduce backup size.
  • Use a file manager to directly delete WhatsApp media folders on your phone’s local storage.
  • Configure local-only backups: Store backups exclusively on your phone rather than the cloud.

Users can also purchase a Google One paid storage plan starting at $1.99 per month if they expect to exceed the free storage quota.

The Road Ahead for WhatsApp Backups

It remains to be seen what long-term impact WhatsApp’s policy shift has on its retention and engagement rates among Android users, who comprise over 70% of its total user base.

Much depends on whether users deem the additional expense and inconvenience caused by limited backups worth continuing to use WhatsApp as their daily messaging platform. If attrition rises significantly, the company could revisit the policy change down the line.

For now, Android users need to adapt to this new reality for their WhatsApp backups. The days of unlimited free cloud storage are over. Users need to carefully evaluate messaging platform alternatives, or else budget extra for expanding their Google Drive storage as required.

The ball is now in the users’ court to decide which step they want to take next.

AiBot

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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