WhatsApp urges Android users to manually backup their chats

The good news for Android users: WhatsApp chats, photos and videos are no longer going to eat into your precious Google Drive storage limit. Starting 12 November, your quota won’t budge due to that particular backup bucket.

The catch: if you want to save your old WhatsApp content, you better back it all up before 12 November. That’s when WhatsApp will sweep out dusty old backups that haven’t been updated in more than a year, it said on its FAQ page.

On Monday, the Independent reported that Google emailed users to let them know that the move comes out of a new agreement between itself and WhatsApp. The change in how the instant messaging app backs up data is reportedly being done to make backup more accessible and seamless.

From the email:

Due to a new agreement between WhatsApp and Google, WhatsApp backups will no longer count against Google Drive storage quota.

However, any WhatsApp backups that have not been updated in more than a year will automatically be removed from storage.

How do I preserve my precious WhatsAppery?

Fortunately, backing up your old stuff is easy-peasy. But first, you need a few things: a Google account that’s activated on your phone, as well as Google Play services and enough space for the backup. WhatsApp notes on its FAQ that Google Play services are only available for Android 2.3.4 and higher.

How to create a Google Drive WhatsApp backup:

  1. Open WhatsApp.
  2. Tap Menu > Settings > Chats > Chat backup.
  3. Tap Back up to Google Drive and select a backup frequency other than Never.
  4. Select a Google account that you’ll back up your chat history to. If you don’t have a Google account, tap Add account when prompted and enter your login credentials. WhatsApp suggests that you please do remember the Google account you’re using for the backup – you’ll need that to get back into the backup.
  5. Tap Back up over to choose the network you want to use for backup. Note that this could cost you: backing up over a cellular data network might result in additional data charges.

Then again, you can manually back up your WhatsApp account to Google Drive at any point:

How to manually backup your WhatsApp chats to Google Drive

  1. Open WhatsApp.
  2. Tap Menu > Settings > Chats > Chat backup.
  3. Tap BACK UP to begin your Google Drive backup. The process might take a while, depending on how much data you need to back up.

To get at your new backup, you’ll need to go through the same Google account that you used in the first place. If you need to install or reinstall WhatsApp on your phone, the app will prompt you to restore the backup.

You can check out the WhatsApp FAQ for instructions on how to restore a backup, but bear in mind that you’re best off doing it over a Wi-Fi connection to avoid the data charges you’ll get stuck with if you do it over your cellular network.

Finally, it’s extremely important to keep in mind, given that WhatsApp is encrypted end to end, that the Google drive backups are not. From WhatsApp’s FAQ:

Important: Media and messages you back up aren’t protected by WhatsApp end-to-end encryption while in Google Drive.