When backing up Whatsapp History to iCloud, Whatsapp required nearly the same amount of free space as the total backup. i.e If Whatsapp need to back up 1.8 GB of data to iCloud it will need 1.8GB of free space on the iPhone.

Is there anyway to get around that? I simply dont constantly have 1.8GB of free space.


2 Answers 2


I would be more worried if the backup of my data takes less space than the data itself. If you want to reduce the size of the backup (and the data), start with deleting videos and pictures contained in WhatsApp conversations.

  • Well that's because I already have most of it backed up previously. Assuming a Total Backup of 1.8GB, I am pretty sure at least 1.6GB of those are the same as my previous backup. The WhatsApp iPhone version requires lots of free space for this to work.
    – Ksec
    Sep 17, 2015 at 3:07
  • The iCloud backup of WhatsApp is a 1:1 copy of the data available in the app on your phone, it will always have the same size as the app data. Are you more worried about the size of the backup or about the data volume transferred during backup?
    – nohillside
    Sep 17, 2015 at 3:18
  • WhatsApp will compress the data before sending to iCloud. The compression ratio is around 80% of original size.
    – Raptor
    Mar 10, 2016 at 9:05
  • @raptor The compression ratio depends on the number of images in your WhatsApp chats...
    – nohillside
    Mar 10, 2016 at 9:42
  • @patrix agree. texts have better compression than images.
    – Raptor
    Mar 10, 2016 at 9:54

Go to WhatsApp - Settings - Chats - Backup, and see how much space Whatsapp is trying to upload (you can choose to not include videos to reduce most of the size)

Now, there are 2 Whatsapp backup switches to handle, they are both on by default, hence, by default, WhatsApp is an odd and inconvenient outlier since (compared to iCloud Photo library) it literally duplicates the space required if both switches are on, let me explain:

1st switch: iPhone Settings app > Tap your name in the top > iCloud > scroll down to see the switch (this switch creates a live backup that allows for an independent backup, meaning you don't need to restore your whole iphone to restore this backup, you can delete Whatsapp Only and said backup will be detected when you reinstall Whatsapp). You get to pick your frequency

2nd switch: iPhone Settings app > Tap your name in the top > iCloud > Manage Storage > click "Backcup" green icon row > Click your device > here you have a list of your TOTAL apps, each might save a tiny bit of settings info for each app (not the app itself), this is a packaged backup that also saves your downloaded app list (no matter if you switch off every app). So, Here you see WhatsApp too (2nd switch) <- if on, Whatsapp backup will take 2x space of your total iCloud space. As I understand, this backup can only be accessed if you restore the whole iPhone (whole package see).

Post-context: for years, I've turned off the 2nd switch with no problems. But ever since iOS 13, background activity is a mess for Whatsapp, and even though I have more than enough space, auto-daily Whatsapp backup is not happening. I now have the question if I can invert the switches, and still be able to access WhatsApp backup by only deleting and reinstalling the whatsapp app, not the whole iPhone. This question arises since the packaged backup (2nd switch) for the rest of the apps (including WhatsApp) works flawlessly, daily, perfectly fine.

TIP:: It doesn't matter if you have iCloud Photo library on on both sections, Apple is smart about this and only backcups once (only takes space one time), that's why I say WhatsApp is an inconvenient-odd outlier when it comes to both switches management.

With all this, maybe your backup is stuck since you have a 2.5Gb Whatsapp backup to be uploaded, which (if both switches on) requires 5Gb of free space. <- but in my case, not even having the double free space does the trick, auto-backup is not happening.

  • The question is from 2015, not sure how iOS 13 plays a role here
    – nohillside
    Feb 27, 2020 at 16:37
  • It does .. it's just a clarification, but it does in the sense that the mechanism is still the same.
    – Kagio
    Mar 12, 2020 at 16:15

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