WhatsApp backups on Google Drive will be free starting November 2018

How do you usually backup all your WhatsApp messages?

I can’t speak for everyone else but I am very attached to a lot of the communication I do on just about any platform I am in (including phone calls). As such, those communications, be they in the form of emails, SMS or, like in this case, WhatsApp, are usually stored somewhere so that I either don’t lose them in the event I am no longer in control of the device I use to send and receive them or when I willingly substitute such a device for another. More often, because I review various devices here, the latter is what usually happens.

For a long time, I used various workarounds to back up my WhatsApp messages. They included using third-party (paid) apps to constantly sync the WhatsApp folder on my phone with its mirror on a cloud storage service as well as directly copying the contents of the WhatsApp folder and pasting them on either an external storage medium like a flash drive or microSD card or on a computer. Then, 3 years ago, after much testing, WhatsApp introduced the ability to back up our precious chats and media content on Google Drive, Google’s own cloud storage solution that is usually tied to a Google account, which most users, by virtue of using Android, already have.

So, since 2015, I have been very happy using Google Drive to backup and restore my chats. The process is fairly easy and, after the initial setup process, you never have to do a thing as everything happens automatically.

The only problem, though, has been that for those of us who happen to be very active on the popular messaging app, things can easily get out of hand if you’re not constantly monitoring them.  The problem with WhatsApp over the years, and what sets it apart from other messenger apps, has been the way it works: it downloads media content to one’s local storage thus filling it up real quick (I am just from deleting a couple of videos and photos on the WhatsApp folder on the Huawei Y5 Prime 2018).

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Who’s got the time to be always deleting the many videos they receive every day, anyway? Since the automatic Google Drive backup process usually just syncs everything between the local WhatsApp folder and the remote one so that they are exact copies, that means that everything that is held locally is also stored online. And that is how the 15 GB of free storage that Google offers users for all its products (Google Drive, Gmail, Google Photos – photos and videos that are uncompressed and of higher than HD quality) disappears pretty quickly. So far, there’s been no way to circumvent that other than deciding which content that is backed up is worth keeping and which one needs to go.

That ends in November when the contents of the WhatsApp backup folder on Google Drive will no longer be taken into account when computing the amount of storage that one has used on their Google account.

However, in order for your chats to stay backed up on Google Drive, one will need to ensure that the backup files are pretty recent as backups that haven’t been updated in a year will be deleted, according to WhatsApp. That shouldn’t be something of concern to those of us who do the sync process daily but it should concern anyone who’s used WhatsApp-Google Drive backup process before and hasn’t done so in the recent past since they risk losing that data.

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