Currently, WhatsApp backups do not count towards a user’s Google Drive capacity limit. However, a snippet of code from the latest WhatsApp beta accessed by WABetaInfo suggests this may not be the case for much longer.
The screenshot appears to show that Google Drive will begin to serve up alerts when a user is nearing their WhatsApp backup size limit, but does not indicate what this limit might be. TechRadar Pro has asked Google for confirmation of both the policy change and the capacity limit.
The move to cut off unlimited WhatsApp backups in Google Drive is not entirely unexpected. Given the size of some WhatsApp chats and the quantity of multimedia content people share, providing unlimited backup has surely been costing Google a significant sum.
Some have also described the offering as a loophole in the Google Drive system, because it effectively allows people to store as many photos and videos as they like (as well as chats), simply by sending them to a contact over WhatsApp.
Another factor is that Google has recently placed greater emphasis on drawing users towards its paid Google One subscription, which bundles cloud storage, phone backup, Android VPN and other benefits.
By limiting the quantity of WhatsApp data users are allowed to store for free in Google Drive, the company is giving people yet another reason to make the shift to a paid service plan.
A cynic might even suggest that this has been Google’s plan all along. Once someone is tied into a product or ecosystem (in this instance, WhatsApp backup with Google Drive), they become increasingly reluctant to switch and more likely to pay out in order to maintain a current level of service.
We will update this article with further information from Google, if any is forthcoming.
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Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.