Microsoft to Discontinue Unlimited OneDrive Storage Subscriptions

Will subscribers move their files to another cloud storage service?

Microsoft One Drive

If you use Microsoft’s OneDrive, your subscription is about to change. For the last year, along with their Office 365 subscription, users got unlimited storage on OneDrive for no additional cost. Not anymore. That sweet deal is gone. Microsoft explains the reason for the change on their OneDrive blog:

“Since starting to roll out unlimited cloud storage to Office 365 consumer subscribers, a small number of users backed up numerous PCs and stored entire movie collections and DVR recordings.

In some instances, this exceeded 75 TB per user or 14,000 times the average. Instead of focusing on extreme backup scenarios, we want to remain focused on delivering high-value productivity and collaboration experiences that benefit the majority of OneDrive users.”

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In other words, a few savvy – or selfish– users spoiled it for the rest of us. Users of Office 365 Home, Office 365 Personal and Office 365 University are now limited to 1 TB of storage on OneDrive. 1 TB is enough space to save approximately 1 million Office documents or 330,000 photos – more than enough for the average user. For Office 365 users who have exceeded that limit, Microsoft will allow them to keep their increased storage for “at least 12 months.”

Free OneDrive users who exceed the quote don’t get the benefit of the doubt though. After 90 days, their accounts become read-only. They can view and download their files, but they can’t add to them. After nine months over the quota, user accounts will be locked, and users can’t access their content until they take action – which probably means buying storage or moving their files. After a year, their content “maybe be deleted.” Ouch. But wait, there’s more. Starting in early 2016, Microsoft is making additional changes to its OneDrive cloud storage product, including:

  • 100 GB and 200 GB paid plans will not be available to new users. Instead, subscribers can get 50 GB for $1.99 a month.
  • Free OneDrive storage will decrease from 15 GB to 5 GB for all users, current and new.
  • The 15 GB camera roll storage bonus will be discontinued. [5B is about enough space to save 6,600 Office documents or 1,600 photos.]

OneDrive users will have the option to purchase an additional 50 GB of storage space for $1.99 per month.

Insider Take:

Microsoft isn’t the only game in town. It competes with Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon and others who offer online storage. The differentiating factors are ease of use, cost and features – the most of important of which is how much storage you get for your subscription dollars.

Dropbox, for example, offers 2 GB of free space, but users can refer friends to Dropbox to get up to 16 GB of free space. Dropbox Pro users can get 1 TB of space for $9.99 a month or $99 a year, or for $15 a month, Dropbox business subscribers can get unlimited storage for teams. Google Drive offers a variety of options, starting at 15 GB of storage for free, 100 GB for $1.99, 1 TB for $9.99, and so on, up to 30 TB for $299.99 a month.

Amazon Cloud Drive offers unlimited photos for $11.99 per year after a free 3-month trial and unlimited storage for $59.99 a year after the trial. Basically, Microsoft was offering a better deal than anyone else out there, and some folks took advantage of it. The company scaled back its offerings which could be interpreted as a smart move from a business perspective, but a less-than-friendly move from a consumer or PR standpoint. This isn’t the first time Microsoft has changed the rules midstream though.

Last November we reported about Microsoft making Office 365 available for free on mobile platforms. It was great for mobile users, but it had to appease Office 365 subscribers with refunds if they met certain conditions. We won’t second guess Microsoft’s business or pricing decisions, but we applaud them for their transparency. They explained the changes, the reasons for the changes, and the timing well in advance. Microsoft also clearly outlined the options for both subscribers and free users. Unhappy users have plenty of time to take their files and go home.