A little known feature on WhatsApp can help you identify your most frequent contacts. This function can also help you keep track of your data usage and save money by limiting the drain messaging can cause to your phone bill.
The feature, which is appropriately called “storage function,” is hidden deep within WhatsApp, and a lot of people do not know about it. According to the tech press, the feature is little known because WhatsApp and its parent Facebook have deliberately failed to publicize it for reasons that are unclear.
Storage function was introduced in June 2015 as part of WhatsApp update 2.12.3, according to Telegraph tech writer Rhionnon Williams . The idea behind the feature is to track the kind of messages that people send and receive.
One possible reason for this feature is to let WhatsApp’s engineers see how the app is actually used so they can make changes to future versions. At some point, it might also be used for advertising or for some sort of integration with Facebook.
What Storage Usage Can Do
Some of the data collected by Storage Usage seems to include:
- The total number of messages.
- The number of messages from each contact.
- A ranking of the contacts so you can see who your most frequent correspondents are.
- The size of the messages.
- The amount of data each message is taking up.
By looking over this information, you should be able to tell you who texts you the most and how much time you spend chatting with them. This could reveal a lot about you, such as the identity of your friends or lover or what is important to you. A person that spends a lot of time texting his or her boss or clients could be identified as a workaholic for example.
Not surprisingly, this raises some security concerns. The data contained in storage function could be used to track you or at least identify your friends and family. Some messages, such as pictures and videos, might even tell more about you.
This is why it is always a very good idea to keep your smartphone secure. A person that steals it or hacks it could learn almost everything about you, including how to target your friends and family for scams.
How to Access Storage Usage
Even though it is hidden and somewhat obscure, Storage Usage is actually rather easy to access and use.
To open storage, follow these simple instructions:
- Go to settings on the right side of WhatsApp’s main tool bar.
- Select Account.
- Select Storage Usage.
- You should see all the data displayed and ranked once it is open.
Currently, Storage Usage only seems to be available on WhatsApp for Apple products that use the iOS operating system. It is not known whether it is available for the more popular Android yet or not. That means it could be something that Apple requires.
Nor is it clear if Storage Usage has been added to WhatsApp Web yet or not. WhatsApp Web is the app that lets you access the popular messaging service through desktop and laptop computers and tablets.
Still, it wouldn’t hurt to check Android, Windows, and other devices to see if it is installed. Even if you are not curious about the identity of your most frequent WhatsApp friends, you probably still want to know exactly what data your phone is collecting about you and why.
How to Cut Your Data Usage and Save Money
You could at least see why your phone bill is so high and why you never have any data left on your phone. That way you will be in a better position to cut your data usage in order to save money.
One way to avoid using far too much data is to try accessing the solution through WhatsApp Web. Another is to use a Wi-Fi connection rather than a phone signal when you log on to WhatsApp Web.
If you want, you could only contact those whom you spend the most time texting when you are using Wi-Fi or WhatsApp Web. You could also try to get them to contact you at times when you are most likely to be using a cheaper connection to the Internet.
You can also contact some people and tell them to stop sending you data-hogging messages such as videos and photographs. This may not always work, but you can at least try. Remember, if they are actually your friends, they will want to help you cut your phone bill.
Some Ways to Keep Your WhatsApp Data Secure
Not surprisingly, a lot of people will want to know how to keep their WhatsApp data secure after seeing how much information is contained in features such as Storage Usage.
Here are a few ways to keep your WhatsApp messages and data secure:
- Deactivate WhatsApp as soon as possible if your phone gets lost or stolen. The best way to do this is to simply reactivate your WhatsApp account on another phone number.
- Make sure you delete your WhatsApp Account whenever you change phones or numbers. You can delete WhatsApp by opening WhatsApp through WhatsApp Web or another device and going to Menu Button>Settings>Account>Delete My Account. All you have to do is type in your phone number.
- Lock WhatsApp. Unfortunately, there is no password encryption built into WhatsApp, but there are a large number of security apps for the solution, including Lock for WhatsApp, Messenger and Chat Lock and Secure Chat. Some of these are free, and many of them are available through Google Play and the App Store.
- Periodically wipe your WhatsApp Data with a cleanup solution such as Whats Cleaner. These apps will go through your data and get rid of everything that you do not want.
- Be careful what you say and send on WhatsApp. A good rule of thumb is if you want something to stay confidential or secret, do not say or send it through a messaging application such as WhatsApp. There is no such thing as perfect security. All it takes for the bad guys to get their hands on your data is one lapse.
- There are some other great security suggestions in this article from our friends at The Indian Express.
Everybody should keep track of his or her WhatsApp usage and be aware of the data this app is collecting. Understanding how features like Storage Usage work can make life safer and easier.