WhatsApp backups created by the built-in backup option of the messaging client on Android are not encrypted when they are transferred to Google Drive.
WhatsApp users on Android can enable the application's automatic backup functionality to store backups on the device itself or upload backups to Google's Google Drive web storage service.
Backups are useful as they can be used to restore data on the device they were created on initially but also on new devices of the user so that media and messages become available on the new device as well.
While remote backups are quite useful when it comes to switching to a new device or installing WhatsApp anew on a reset device, WhatsApp users need to be aware that remote backups are not transferred using end-to-end encryption when they are stored on Google Drive. Backups are, however, encrypted so that anyone with access to the backup files still needs to find a way to decrypt them.
WhatsApp highlights this in the application itself and on a FAQ page on the official company website.
Important: Media and messages you back up aren't protected by WhatsApp end-to-end encryption while in Google Drive.
WhatsApp users on Android can verify the backup settings in the following way:
The page lists date and time of the last local backup and Google Drive backup if applicable. You can check the Google Drive settings to change WhatsApp's remote backup options.
A tap on Back up to Google Drive displays options to set the feature to never or to "only when I tap "Back up".
You can't delete existing backups from within the WhatsApp application, however. You need to delete the backup on Google Drive.
You can use the local backup to restore WhatsApp data on a new device but need to copy the backup to the new device to do so.
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