One of the recent WhatsApp updates you should have received by now brought a new backup feature to Android devices. Now, you can backup your chat history and WhatsApp media files to your Google Drive and restore it, if needed, when you re-install your WhatsApp on a current device or install the app on a new device.
The benefit of this option, as opposed to the local backup on your SD card or internal storage is it’s in the cloud, and thus can not be wiped out when you do a factory reset of your device. Also, the backup stored on your internal storage is in crypt7 or crypt8 format and sometimes the not so savvy users might fail to find where those backups are located. Needless to say, migrating from one device to another would require a manual copying of the backup file. On the contrary, if you backup your chat history to Google Drive, it will get restored automatically when you install WhatsApp on a new device or reinstall it on your current device.
Note: you will not find the backup file in your Google Drive. It’s hidden by default for security and privacy reasons, a fact which can cause a lot of confusion. I will tell you where to find it and how to delete it below, if the need should arise. The file can be only accessed and read by WhatsApp – you can’t download or operate / edit it manually. When you wish to restore it, you will need to grant the messenger access to your Google Drive for the backup – the app will do the rest and prioritize the cloud stored backup over the local stored one.
Creating the Backup on Google Drive
Here is how it works. All you need is an up-to-date WhatsApp app version, a Google account and the working Google Play services. If you haven’t received the update where you can see the option to backup to Google Drive, you can download the latest WhatsApp apk from WhatsApp website.
Step 1. Go to WhatsApp Settings → Chats and Calls → Chat Backup.
Step 2. Choose Backup to Google Drive → choose the frequency from “Only when I tap Backup,” daily, weekly or monthly.
Step 3. Choose the Google account to which you wish to upload the backup file. You can choose the one associated with your device, or you can add another one. Just remember where you uploaded that backup. Tap OK.
Step 4. Grant WhatsApp the permission to access your Google Drive account → Give Permission.
Step 5. Manage how WhatsApp upload the backup – over the available Mobile data plan or Wi-Fi only.
Step 6. Tap Back Up to upload the first backup file to your Google Drive. Depending on its size (the sheer volume of your chat history) as well as whether you have chosen to include the media files in the backup, the first upload might be lengthy. So, make sure you have a stable connection and a charger handy in case it takes longer than expected. You will see the progress bar as the upload continues.
Note 1: if using the mobile data is an issue, and you wish to limit that usage, better restrain from choosing to perform the automated backups. You would need to make sure your device has a stable WiFi connection at the predefined time when WhatsApp does the backup. It seems that the manual backup “Only when I tap Back Up” is the best option to anyone limiting their mobile data usage.
Note 2: Make sure your Google Drive has enough free storage to allocate it to the backup file. Likewise, make sure your phone has enough storage to receive the backup when you restore it.
Restoring chat history from Google Drive
When restoring the backup on a new device, or after you have reinstalled WhatsApp messenger on a current device, you will need to grant WhatsApp permission to access your Google Drive to fetch the backup file. It will download the chat history first, and then the media files, if you have chosen to include them in the backup.
To restore the chat history, you will need to use the same phone number and the same Google account you used to create the backup.
Step 1. Add the Google account to your device.
Step 2. Verify the same phone number with WhatsApp.
Step 3. When prompted, grant WhatsApp permission to restore your messages and media from Google Drive.
Step 4. Wait while the download is in progress. When prompted, tap Next and see your chat history in the app. After that is complete, the app will download your media files.
Deleting the Backup file from Google Drive, or Checking if the Backup Was Successful
Even though the WhatsApp backup file is encrypted and hidden in your Google Drive, it can be hacked by brute force. If you have doubts, or simply no longer wish to store the backup on a particular Google account, you can delete the backup and revoke WhatsApp’s permission to access your Google Drive, effectively removing the two accounts association. Here is how.
It’s more convenient to do it from a desktop browser, but you can also do it from your mobile browser. By the way, check out PocketMeta’s list of the best browsers for Android.
Step 1. Launch your browser and go to www.google.com/settings/account. Log in with your credentials (the account that stores your backup).
Step 2. Navigate to Google Drive → find the Gear icon on the right. Gear → Settings → Manage Apps.
If you use the mobile browser, go to your account and find Connected apps and sites → Manage Apps.
Step 3. Scroll down, this is where WhatsApp Messenger resides (at the bottom of the list because it’s in the alphabetic order).
Step 4. If you simply wish to check whether you uploaded the backup or not, see the italicized small print under WhatsApp Messenger. If the backup was successful, you will be able to see the backup file size.
Step 5. Tap/click on the drop-down menu next to WhatsApp messenger. From there, you can choose to delete hidden app data and disconnect WhatsApp from Drive. If you perform the disconnect, the next time you re-install WhatsApp it will fetch the backup file from the internal storage, if you performed the backup.
Storing the backup of your WhatsApp messages and media files on Google Drive has quite a few advantages. First of all, you don’t need to mind that backup file on your internal storage in case you need to do a factory reset of your device, or when you install WhatsApp on a new device. Migrating is easier with Google Drive backup than the locally stored backup.
The fact that neither you, nor anyone else can see or access the backup file on your Google Drive is an obvious advantage privacy-wise, but it will trick only the non-techies.
Not much to list here, actually. If you need to limit your mobile data consumption, choose the manual backup over automated.
If you are reasonably paranoid, and would rather not keep anything as private as WhatsApp chat history on Google Drive, you know how to delete it and disconnect the two accounts. After all, it’s not rocket science to see if you are using Google Drive as abackup option if anyone should hack into your Google account. From there, it’s a matter of time and technique to decrypt the file. All in all, if you are concerned about the privacy of your communications, check out Telegram or Signal, and resort to self-destructing chats.
Hope this was helpful. What are your favorite WhatsApp features? Any know-how you would like to share? Leave your comments below!