Last Thursday on September 1st, I got an email from Google titled: Important information about the upgrade from Google Hangouts to Google Chat.
It’s a fairly lengthy message, the full text at the bottom if desired, but here is the relevant part:
We are emailing you because some of your conversations or portions of conversations won’t automatically migrate from Hangouts to Chat. If you wish to keep your Hangouts conversations, we strongly encourage you to use Google Takeout and download your data before January 1, 2023 when Hangouts data will be deleted.
The answer page has been updated and now includes, “As part of the migration of conversations from Hangouts to Google Chat, some conversations or portions of conversations won’t automatically migrate from Hangouts to Chat. We will email impacted users with more information around September 2022.”
A reminder that back when they stated the original limitations it read, “Message history from before June 2020 will be available in Google Chat later.”
After some review, I found that most (perhaps all) of my Hangouts conversation history seems to have been fully migrated, going back to 2013. However, not all of it seems to be searchable. For example, group chats from 2013 can be brought up and browsed, but searching for phrases displayed in the conversation results in no results. In another example with direct messages to one contact, I can’t search for anything with them past August 16, 2020, yet I was still able to scroll up to at least May 24th, 2020 (this was a tedious process and I gave up there).
Using Google Takeout as Google suggested, I exported both the Hangouts and Chat history to do a comparison. The JSON-encoded message history for each product is significantly different (and the Hangouts file has a lot of extra metadata), so for the time being, I only eyeballed the files instead of writing an entire parser to compare. I found:
- Conversation history seem to be intact (based on size, start/end dates, and checking random parts
- Call history is missing in Chat
- Pictures/videos/other media from Hangouts (before Chat was connected) is missing
Here’s a size/file comparison of the two Takeout archives:
|JSON (messages)||514 MB (1 file)||117 MB (85 files)|
|Media||384 MB (324 files)||9 MB (49 files)|
|184 MB (150 files)||9 MB (49 files)|
|Total||899 MB||126 MB|
|Takeout zip archive||407 MB||23.5 MB|
At the very least, I would suspect that anyone who has ever sent an image on Hangouts will get the email I received. Hopefully the search situation will be remedied.
Lastly, for several years, Google Takeout for Hangouts would always fail on my account, and it took over a year to convince someone at Google to fix it, which could be a problem for those with similar problems with only four months to download the data before it gets deleted.
Full e-mail text
Earlier this year, we announced that all Hangouts users would be upgraded to Google Chat. As the last step of the upgrade, starting November 1, 2022, Hangouts on the web will be upgraded to Chat on the web. We are emailing you because some of your conversations or portions of conversations won’t automatically migrate from Hangouts to Chat.
If you wish to keep your Hangouts conversations, we strongly encourage you to use Google Takeout and download your data before January 1, 2023 when Hangouts data will be deleted.
Rest assured that Hangouts on the web and your conversations there will remain accessible in Hangouts until November 1, 2022.
Why are users being upgraded?
Google Chat offers closer integration with other Google Workspace products and modern features like a gif picker and Spaces, a dedicated place for topic-based collaboration. In-product notifications about this change have been visible in Hangouts since last year and many users have already made the upgrade to Google Chat. For more information about the upgrade to Google Chat, please visit the Help Center.
How do I download my data?
Starting November 1, 2022, Hangouts on the web will no longer be available. If you wish to keep your Hangouts data, we strongly encourage you to use Google Takeout and download a copy before January 1, 2023. You can find step by step instructions for Takeout here.
What happens if I delete a conversation in Hangouts?
Deleting conversations from Google Hangouts may delete the corresponding content in Google Chat, so don’t delete any conversations you wish to keep.
What if I don’t want to move to Chat?
If you would prefer not to move to Chat, you can stop using it at any time. You can also delete conversations in Chat or delete your Google account entirely. Please note that deleting your Google account will result in deletion of all the data and content in that account, like emails, files, calendars, photos, etc.
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You have received this mandatory email service announcement to update you about important changes to your Google Hangouts & Google Chat account.