WhatsApp is already a synonym for communication between mobile phones. Almost at the same level as MSN Messenger was in its day to talk between computers, although now the dimension is much greater due to the volume of smartphones that circulate throughout the planet. His competition tries to get closer but it is very difficult to compete with his figures, hence that each change they apply from WhatsApp is of special relevance. And when it comes to getting your foot out of the door and allowing more megabytes to be sent at once, things get complicated.
Sending large files from one mobile to another is something that can be done in many ways. We have had email for eons, we have websites like WeTransfer that take care of temporarily storing the files that are sent from point A to point B. And of course, we have messaging apps. But the architecture of WhatsApp is the one that plays against it here. Or rather, it plays against phones with little storage. The architecture of WhatsApp, let’s remember.
WhatsApp does not store, it only collects and delivers
WhatsApp currently only allows you to send files up to 100MB. 100 megabytes, one tenth of a gigabyte. Approximately, of course. That means they would have to send us 10 files of the maximum of their capacity to occupy a gigabyte of the storage of our mobile phone. Because as we said before in the introduction, WhatsApp’s architecture works against us when we talk about transporting files from point A to point B.
And that is precisely because these files are literally transported from point A to point B. And point B is the internal memory of our mobile phone. Because WhatsApp does not have storage servers, it only uses them as temporary messengers. That means that we send a file of any type and that file is hosted on a WhatsApp server only and exclusively for the time it needs to be delivered to the other side. Nothing stays on their servers.
WhatsApp decided to work like this since its inception, just as it chose Signal encryption when enforcing end-to-end message protection. If we compare it with Telegram or with Facebook Messenger, for example, two of the most used messaging platforms, in these two there is storage on a server. You can log in from any device with your account and your files are there. Precisely because they are on the server. So what they send you by Telegram is not on your mobile if you don’t want it. Or you can download it, view it, modify it, or delete it. And it will remain on Telegram until you expressly delete it from the chat (and therefore, from the server).
So, How everything sent to you through WhatsApp automatically falls into your phone’s storage, if your phone has low memory you may have a serious problem. “You can” and not “You will have” because in these cases you can never say that it will happen, because perhaps your contacts are prudent when it comes to sending you things, or because perhaps you are in groups that I am not very prolific in terms of sending files heavy. But they may not be wise, and you may be in prolific groups with large files.
‘Kamikaze’ users and copies that go off
Role play: what will happen when the largest files try to reach the reduced memory of an older phone
Let’s take an extreme example, to situate ourselves. A contact of yours decides to send you a movie in MKV format that has a weight of 1.9 gigabytes. The film falls directly on your phone, and if you don’t have enough gigabytes that can be a serious problem. It was an extreme case, remember, just as an example. Because also, if your phone is filled with heavy files your WhatsApp backup can be firedAnd that’s where you run into another stumbling block.
Because if you have an Android mobile, Google Drive can offer you up to 15GB of data to make your backup and you would more or less get by except for the inconvenience of uploading it to the cloud. But if you have an iPhone, be aware that the 5GB of iCloud can fly, because the chat messages, without dressing or parsley, already take up a lot. Currently mobile phones usually arrive with at least 64GB of space and some brands bet on 128GB. But that is quite recent. There are many mobiles with 32GB in circulation and many mobiles with 16GB in circulation.
So when WhatsApp decides to end its pilot test and raise the size limit of files sent from 100 megabytes to 2 gigabytes, it could be a very big deal. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen and WhatsApp develops a new system that allows you to keep files online without having to download them by default, but this may take time to happen or never happen. As long as your servers are simply a postal worker carrying letters from one place to another, you better have a very big mailbox.