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No more unlimited storage for Office 365, OneDrive free storage cut to 5GB

Today Microsoft has announced some rather important changes to its OneDrive cloud storage platform. A new cost structure will be introduced among other details.

Published onNovember 3, 2015


Cloud storage has, for many users, become a ubiquitous part of their digital lives: everything from media to memories can be saved to a server somewhere far, far away and then retrieved “locally” later. Some individuals are a bit too cloud-friendly however, at least according to Microsoft. Earlier today, Redmond announced major changes to its OneDrive storage plan citing advantageous users as part of the problem. Specifically, Microsoft states that:

Since we started 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.

While one can only guess as to what kind of figure “numerous users” refers to, the problem speaks for itself. Much as how some took heavy advantage of unlimited mobile data plans, so too do some make liberal use of online storage. To this end, the following changes are being introduced to the OneDrive system. Says Microsoft:

  • We’re no longer planning to offer unlimited storage to Office 365 Home, Personal, or University subscribers. Starting now, those subscriptions will include 1 TB of OneDrive storage.
  • 100 GB and 200 GB paid plans are going away as an option for new users and will be replaced with a 50 GB plan for $1.99 per month in early 2016.
  • 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 also be discontinued. These changes will start rolling out in early 2016.

For those that will and shall be affected, Microsoft is seeking to ease any possible problems that may present themselves during this transition. Specifically it is taking the following steps to make the transition as easy as possible:

  • If you are an Office 365 consumer subscriber and have stored in excess of 1 TB, you will be notified of this change and will be able to keep your increased storage for at least 12 months.
  • If you are an Office 365 consumer subscriber and find that Office 365 no longer meets your needs, a pro-rated refund will be given. To learn more visit the FAQ.
  • If you are using more than 5 GB of free storage, you will continue to have access to all files for at least 12 months after these changes go into effect in early 2016. In addition, you can redeem a free one-year Office 365 Personal subscription (credit card required), which includes 1 TB of OneDrive storage.
  • Current customers of standalone OneDrive storage plans (such as a 100 or 200 GB plans) are not affected by these changes.

The company has reaffirmed the role of its platform however, concluding the piece with the following:

OneDrive has always been designed to be more than basic file storage and backup. These changes are needed to ensure that we can continue to deliver a collaborative, connected, and intelligent service. They will allow us to continue to innovate and make OneDrive the best option for people who want to be productive and do more.

A sign of things to come?

While Microsoft may have arguably caused some of the problem detailed above with the generous inclusion of unlimited storage, the real question is what will now happen in the fall out of this major change. Will users take to other alternatives? If so, will those companies also feel compelled to revise their pricing structures?

Given that the internet itself has “expanded” exponentially even in the past few years, everything we do draws more and more data and command new pricing initiatives. Even Google itself has had to confront this in its recent decision to raise the maximum price ceiling on the Play Store.

It will be very interesting to see what comes out of this news to say the least. For now however, we want to hear what you, our readers, think. Is Microsoft justified for revising OneDrive, or could there be alternative reasons for the sudden change of heart? Let us know below!

For reference, additional information related to the OneDrive changes can be found at Microsoft’s FAQ.