WhatsApp has recently revised its terms of service, indicating a significant change for Android users: chat backups on Google Drive will no longer be free and will count towards your Google account storage quota. This policy will come into effect for WhatsApp beta users starting next month and will be gradually extended to all Android users starting early next year.
Traditionally, Android users have enjoyed a separate storage arrangement for WhatsApp chat history and media backups, which did not consume their Google account’s cloud storage. However, this luxury is coming to an end as Google and WhatsApp have announced that WhatsApp backups will now be counted against the standard Google Account cloud storage limit.
Every Google account currently offers 15 GB of free storage, shared across Google Drive, Google Photos, and Gmail. Consequently, users who rely heavily on WhatsApp might find themselves needing a Google One subscription to adequately back up their chats and media files.
The move aligns Android’s backup policy with that of iOS, where chat backups have long been limited by the iCloud storage quota. Furthermore, this decision is in line with Google’s broader strategy to promote its Google One Cloud service. In the past, the tech giant ended the offering of free unlimited storage for Google Photos, a move that nudged many towards subscribing to Google One for their photo and video backups.
For those wondering how to continue backing up their WhatsApp data without incurring additional costs, there are a few options. Users can manage their existing 15 GB quota on Google Drive to accommodate their WhatsApp backups. This can be achieved by either deleting unnecessary content from their Google account or by opting to back up only text messages on WhatsApp, excluding media files to save space. Additionally, WhatsApp facilitates chat transfers between phones without cloud backup, a handy feature for those frequently switching devices. Another alternative is to subscribe to the most affordable Google One plan, which offers 100 GB of storage for Rs 130 a month or Rs 1300 a year in India.
The change in policy brings WhatsApp in line with Apple’s approach, where iOS users have always had their WhatsApp backups count towards their iCloud storage, capped at a free tier of 5GB.
Google has also hinted at offering one-time Google One promotions to eligible users and currently offers discounted prices for both its Basic and Standard plans. It’s important to note, however, that these changes will apply only to personal Google accounts, with Google Workspace accounts remaining unaffected for the time being.