WhatsApp users on Android are waking up to changes in their Google Drive storage dynamics. Since 2018, WhatsApp backups were exempt from counting against Google account storage quotas, providing users with a valuable benefit. However, Meta’s recent announcement in November 2023 has signaled the end of this free storage ride, as WhatsApp backups will now contribute to your Drive storage. This change is slowly rolling out on the stable channel and is expected to reach all WhatsApp Android users in the first half of 2024.
Despite WhatsApp’s support page promising a 30-day advance notice through a banner in chat backup settings, some users are reporting a lack of such notifications on their devices. The anticipation of this change has created a buzz among users who are now finding a new WhatsApp backup entry under the “Other” section of their Google account storage. Tapping on this entry leads to the app’s “Manage Storage” page, allowing users to review and manage the space occupied by various conversations and files.
Managing Your WhatsApp Storage
For users facing the prospect of increased storage demands, the “Manage Storage” page becomes a crucial tool. It enables users to identify and delete large media and documents, thereby reducing the space consumed by WhatsApp chat backups. This proactive approach ensures users can better navigate the impending changes without compromising their Google Drive storage limits.
Rollout and Outlook
The change is still in its initial stages, with reports suggesting that it is only visible for some Google accounts so far. WhatsApp’s support page assures users that the rollout will continue throughout the first half of 2024. Additionally, Google might introduce promotional offers on Google One subscription plans, providing users with additional storage space and potentially easing the transition for those who rely heavily on WhatsApp for communication.
WhatsApp Beta Users
Users on WhatsApp’s beta channel have been grappling with the storage impact since December 2023, as chat backups to Drive started counting against their storage quotas earlier than anticipated. Given the app’s popularity, the storage requirements for WhatsApp backups could pose challenges for users who are already close to exhausting their 15GB Google account space due to other services like Google Photos backup and Drive files.
Google Workspace Users Remain Unaffected
A silver lining exists for Google Workspace users who obtained their accounts through work or school, as they remain unaffected by the recent changes. This exemption provides a sense of relief for professionals and students who rely on WhatsApp for both personal and professional communication.
Trip Down Memory Lane
Before 2018, WhatsApp backups did count against Google Drive’s storage quota, marking a reversal of the free storage offer initially provided by Google. The signs of reconsideration and the end of the free space offer first surfaced in early 2022 during a WhatsApp beta release, hinting at the shifting dynamics between the two tech giants.
For users reluctant to pay for additional Google Drive storage, WhatsApp offers an alternative in the form of local transfer for chat backups between devices. By turning off Drive backups, users can store their chats locally on their devices, providing a workaround for those who prefer not to incur additional costs for storage.