WhatsApp Starts Testing Secure Cloud Backups on Android

Disabled shortly after due to 'connection issues'

The popular messaging app, WhatsApp, has begun testing secure cloud backups for Android users, starting with the latest beta version of the app.

WhatsApp has started offering secure cloud backups within WhatsApp beta for Android version 2.21.15.5, according to Engadget. The option to enable secure backups was first discovered by WABetaInfo, and users can opt in to have their conversation history uploaded to the cloud.

Illustration of phone backing up to cloud

Francesco Carta fotografo / Getty

WhatsApp still offers its signature end-to-end encryption on the backups, a mainstay in the app for several years now. The app developer just started rolling out the feature to the beta last week. Unfortunately, WhatsApp disabled encrypted backups in version 2.21.25.7, a day later, citing "connection issues" as the main cause. It's unclear when the company plans to reenable it.

It isn’t unusual for companies to start testing unannounced features in their beta versions, but that looks to be the case here. According to WABetaInfo, the feature could be enabled from the app’s settings on Android devices that have received it. When enabled, WhatsApp would automatically back up any conversations you have to the cloud using end-to-end encryption. 

The system appears to use cloud services like Google Drive to back up the data, and users have to use a separate password from their standard WhatsApp password to encrypt it. If you lose the password, you won’t be able to access your backups anymore. Alternatively, the backup system also allows the use of a 64-digit encryption key instead of a password.

A person holding a phone with WhatsApp opened

Christian Wiediger / Unsplash

No official release date has been shared just yet, and WhatsApp hasn't shared any details on when it plans to reenable the feature in future beta versions.

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