Microsoft’s OneDrive team put up a blog post today outlining some changes coming to OneDrive, and the news is not good for pretty much anyone using the service. Just barely a year after announcing that OneDrive would offer unlimited storage for subscribers to Office 365 consumer and business, the Redmond company has decided to back out on that commitment. Here are the changes.

First, subscribers to Office 365 consumer will have their storage allotment reduced from unlimited to 1 TB. This is clearly a significant downgrade, and any users who are using more than 1 TB will be notified, and their data will be kept for “over 12 months” before it is reduced. Microsoft is attributing this to some users gobbling up excessive storage, with an example given of a single user having 75 TB of cloud storage used up. The reduction will mean that Office 365 Personal will be 1 TB, and Office 365 Home will be 1 TB for up to five people, or 5 TB total. If you are over the 1 TB limit though, tough luck. Microsoft will not be offering tiers higher than 1 TB even at an increased cost.

The bad news doesn’t stop there though. The paid 100 GB and 200 GB tiers are now gone, and have been replaced with a single 50 GB offering for $1.99 per month. So you get half the storage now for the same price. Previously the 100 GB plan was $2 per month and the 200 GB option was $4 per month. This seriously reduces the number of tiers, and you now go from free, to 50 GB, to 1 TB, with no other options anywhere else.

And, they may as well sweeten the pot with even more reductions. The free tier, which originally started at 25 GB, and was then reduced to 5 GB, and increased again to 15 GB, is once again reduced to 5 GB. They are now in-line with what Apple offers with iCloud, but Google Drive is still 15 GB for free. This is a massive reduction, and to add more salt to the wound, anyone who had been using the extra 15 GB free for using the camera roll feature of OneDrive will also have that removed.

This makes the new OneDrive look like this:

Microsoft OneDrive
Storage Allotments Free Tier Paid Tier 1 Paid Tier 2 Office 365 Consumer
Current Allotment 15 GB + 15 GB Camera Roll 100 GB for $2/month 200 GB for $4/month Unlimited Storage
New Allotment 5 GB 50 GB for $2/month No second tier 1 TB

Clearly, this is a massive reduction in service for most users. Microsoft is trying to lay the blame on several users with excessive amounts of cloud storage use, but that is likely not the motivating factor. They could easily have dealt with these users on an individual basis without the massive reductions in service, and paid users abusing the paid system should not affect the free system.

There is more information in the blog post which I would guess was posted accidentally. Microsoft says that the 75 TB user was using “14,000 times the average” which means that the average allotment of OneDrive use is just 5 GB of storage, despite paying for unlimited.

So there are a lot of use cases to be addressed. As I already mentioned, if you are over 1 TB of OneDrive, you will be notified and your data will be kept for at least 12 months before it is cleared out. If OneDrive is no longer what you want to use, you can apply for a pro-rated refund of your subscription. If you are currently subscribing to the 100 GB and 200 GB plans, there are no changes, and any changes will only affect new subscribers. If you are using the free tier, and are over the 5 GB limit that will be imposed, you will receive a free year of Office 365 personal and the 1 TB allotment that comes with it, assuming you provide a credit card. If you don’t want to provide a credit card, your data will be kept for at least 12 months as well.

Microsoft is going to implement these changes in early 2016. OneDrive is still one of the best prices for 1 TB, but these kinds of wholesale changes to the product are going to have ripple effects for some time to come. If you were using just the free tier, there are certainly other solutions which offer more storage at no cost now.

Source: OneDrive Blog

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  • titanmiller - Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - link

    I'm currently using 1.12TB. I feel like a hard cap at something like 5TB would be more reasonable to weed out the abusers. If most people are using 5GB or less then the business case should work out.
  • amdwilliam1985 - Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - link

    Luckily this announcement comes after the introduction of Google Photos.
    I've been using free dropbox(15GB+) and free OneDrive(30GB) over the past couple years to mainly backup my photos/camera roll, Google Drive(17GB) is for my file backups. Looks like I'll be clearing out my free OneDrive account soon.

    ps: I know some of you are afraid of Google's free services, but for me, I am okay with the risks, I like the idea of free photos backup for life. Thanks in advance for those of you who will try to warn me that Google will steal all my info, photos, email, map, docs, spreadsheets and other stuff... I know the risk and I chose to stick with Google, because I believe it is the lesser evil of the BIG 3(Microsoft, Apple, Google). You guys can pick your own poison, lol, I've picked mine.
  • Michael Bay - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    Nothing is free. If you`re not _afraid_ that google is selling you to advertisers wholesale, sure, go ahead.
  • webdoctors - Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - link

    Have you guys looked into other free online storage providers?

    Tencent gives you free 10 TB of online storage! And Baidu gives you 2 TB. I tested it myself and seems legit. I didn't put any private info because I'm a bit wary of online Chinese companies, but the market of free storage providers is growing.

    In terms of Office docs, are you really going to use 1 TB worth of Office docs? In the last 10 years I dont think I've even amassed 10 GBs of Office docs (Excel/Word/PowerPoint). Maybe if someone had a business and some massive MS-Access databases, but that's not their target for this service right?
  • Gigaplex - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    "In terms of Office docs, are you really going to use 1 TB worth of Office docs?"

    Of course not. OneDrive is used for a lot more than Office docs. Windows 8 and 10 both try to get you to sync ALL your personal files such as photos through OneDrive.
  • JDG1980 - Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - link

    This move is not only incredibly consumer-hostile, it also seems to contradict the whole push for "cloud-first, mobile-first" that CEO Nadella has been spearheading. I think it's likely that it wasn't directly approved at the CEO level, but instead was the brain-fart of some middle manager who was upset his division wasn't as profitable as he wanted (and thus got a lower bonus). Never mind the long-term strategic damage to the Windows ecosystem; that's not his department. This kind of siloing is said to be common at Microsoft.

    I honestly wouldn't be too surprised to see Nadella walk this back, at least in part, a couple days down the road.
  • atcronin - Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - link

    As strange as it may seem, I think we are going to have to get used to paying for services on the internet.
    As for providers offering unlimited data I wonder what bandwidth they offer, what good is it being able to store 10TB if you get less than 5mbit/s uploads?
    Storing Music in the cloud so you can listen to it on your phone just seems unbelievably wasteful of precious mobile bandwidth. But that could just be my warped sense from living in Aus and dealing with pitiful quotas.
  • Samus - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    Wow, that's bullshit they're ditching the 15GB camera roll.

    The only reason I had a lot of iPhones setup for OneDrive is because iCloud Photo Roll is only 5GB, but now so is this. Basically no reason to use it now for many people because iCloud gives the same amount of free space, and its integrated into the OS so works slightly better.

    Overall they're really shooting themselves in the foot by screwing over the free tier. 5GB isn't competitive.

    All the other changes are reasonable. I think we all suspected when they announced last year "unlimited" storage that it wasn't sustainable. There's always some asshole that is going to put 75GB of segmented ZIP's or something worthless up their, when he could have just used Backblaze for $50/year without all the run-arounds.

    I'm really disappointed Microsoft is doing it this way. Just capping the top tiers would solve the problem, but nickeling and diming free users into paying $2/month to get more than 5GB of space is just ridiculous.

    Google Drive, DropBox, Copy, and Box marketing teams are going to have a ball slamming this announcement. And with the new prices and restrictions, Amazon S3 is substantially cheaper, and virtually free if you are a Prime member.

    I fear this is a sign of things to come from MS. Just wait until they get everyone on Windows 10 and start charging for Windows as a Service to get "improvements" that used to be free in Service Packs.
  • just4U - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    hmm.. not much I can say really.. I store my data locally.. and only use online storage for the odd file I need viewed by others. For me these services have literally no effect what so ever.
  • LuxZg - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    I think this is beyond bad, it's such a huge step back I can't even explain!
    But I think we can fight this, OneDrive Uservoice site already has a top #1 spot with this issue:
    "Give us back our storage"

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