WhatsApp working on feature to decrease size of chat backups

WhatsApp is working on feature to limit what media to backup, hinting its ending unlimited backup space on Google Drive. — Reuters

WhatsApp is working on more granular controls for backups, so users can reduce the size of their uploaded chat history without deleting media from their chats.

Leaker site WABetaInfo reported that the new feature ‘Manage Backup Size’ enables Android users to exclude specific media from being backed up to Google Drive, ranging from photos and audio to videos and documents.

Currently, users will need to backup all elements in their chats. Users can only select which Google account to backup to, when to do so, and if they want to limit it so backups only happen over WiFi.

By specifying what needs to be backed up, the size of the library could be greatly reduced, as texts take up less space than other media files like videos.

The feature is still in development for Android users, so no release date has been set.

WABetaInfo said there may be another reason why the messaging service is developing this feature.

“Unfortunately, there is a good chance that WhatsApp backups on Google Drive will partially count again and WhatsApp is planning to offer some options to manage the backup size,” it said.

Starting in 2018, following an agreement between WhatsApp and Google, backups for the messaging service no longer took up space on Google Drive as it did not count towards users’ cloud storage quota.

WABetaInfo noted that Google might end unlimited storage for WhatsApp backups and instead change to a limited plan, such as 2,000MB of space per user. The leaker site added a disclaimer that this info was still thus far unsubstantiated.

“This new plan has not been announced yet and everything may change in the next weeks, but this is the idea around the new way to store WhatsApp backups on Google Drive,” it said.

It added that this was in line with the search giant cutting unlimited storage for Google Photos at end of 2020, where previously high quality compressed photos did not count towards the cloud storage quota.

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