Microsoft Slashes Free Onedrive Storage Capacity by 84%

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A year ago, Microsoft announced that unlimited storage was coming to Office 365 users. In a dramatic about-face, Microsoft today announced several drastic changes to their OneDrive storage options via the OneDrive blog today. These changes, which reduce the amount of storage space for Office 365 Home, Personal and University subscribers, also affects the free storage options available to users.

Excerpt from the OneDrive Blog:

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.

Here are the changes:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Let us compare the most popular cloud storage pricing options:

ONEDRIVE DROPBOX GOOGLE DRIVE BOX AMAZON CLOUD DRIVE COPY
File size restrictions? 10GB 10GB with website, none with Dropbox apps 5TB 250MB for free plan, 5GB for paid personal plan 2GB* None
Free storage? 15GB+15GB Camera Roll5GB 2GB 15GB 10GB No** 15GB
Can I earn extra free storage? Yes Yes No No No Yes
Paid plans $2/month for 100GB, $4/month for 200GB, $2/month for 50GB $7/month for 1TB (via Office365 Home) $10/month for 1TB $2/month 100GB, $10/month for 1TB $10/month for 100GB $12/year for unlimited photos, $60/year for unlimited files $5/month for 250GB, $10 for 1TB
OSes supported Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Windows Phone Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Kindle Fire Windows, Mac, Android, iOS Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Kindle Fire Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS
  • Table Source: Cnet
  • As you can see above, Microsoft has reduced the amount of free storage available to users from 15GB to just 5 GB. In addition, the 15GB Camera Roll option (which you got if you backed up your photos to OneDrive) is also eliminated. This is a reduction of 84%. Where as you could purchase $100GB for just $2 a month, that same amount will get you half the storage (50GB). The only way to get significant additional storage going forward is to buy an Office 365 subscription.
  • Though Office 365 Home, Personal and University Subscribers had been slated to receive unlimited storage from October 2014, Microsoft kept a soft limit of 1TB (evidenced by the OneDrive Storage dashboard). Thus this change does not greatly affect this cadre of users.
  • NOTE:
  1. Microsoft has offered ways to get additional free storage through referrals, but it is not clear if this will continue going forward.
  2. In the event that you go over the storage quota, you will not lose your online data, but will not be able to add to it. You will have to remove the excess data in order to have your OneDrive account functioning normally.
  • Why Did Microsoft Do This?
  • The reason for this change is given as abuse of the cloud storage system by users who had stored exceeded the average storage by a factor of 14,000. Although this is definitely a problem, it does not warrant such a drastic change. It could have been easily solved with a change in Terms and Conditions of using OneDrive, rather than punishing the overwhelming majority.
  • My Speculation for the real reason is this:
  • The rapid uptake of Windows 10 (at over 120 million users) is putting a strain on the OneDrive storage resources. As majority of these users are NOT subscribed to Office 365, they are using resources that are not generating revenue. Simply put, the demand of Online Storage is exceeding supply. As Data centers are an extraordinarily capital intensive project that take time to finish, the demand had to be cut in other ways. This is why the new pricing structure is so heavily tilted towards Office 365. It goes without saying that subscribing to Office 365 Home for KES 6900 a year does offer a great value. But in doing so, Microsoft is ignoring customers who have no need for Office 365  (perhaps they have standalone Office licenses, or simply have no use for Office365).
  • That last statement is very puzzling, considering the mission that is constantly espoused by CEO Satya Nadella of empowering everyone to achieve more. At the time when Microsoft is on-boarding new users with Windows 10 and epitomizing the benefits of cloud storage in the “mobility of experience“, the decision to severely limit this very experience is simply shortsighted and unfortunate.
  • I am not alone in hoping that Microsoft reverses this decision.
  • You can purchase Office 365 at the Kenyan online Microsoft Store.
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