Microsoft Announces OneDrive Storage Plan Downgrades

From the word go, it was pretty obvious that the “unlimited storage” deal couldn’t last forever …

Microsoft announced yesterday that it will make changes to the storage plans of its online file hosting and synchronization service OneDrive and to OneDrive storage given to Office 365 subscribers. The changes affect existing users of the service as well as future users. Several of the plans provided by OneDrive or other Microsoft services that provide access to OneDrive as a bonus are downgraded.

These changes are necessary according to Microsoft because the system has been abused by a small number of users who used more than 14,000 times the average quote.

In particular, the following changes affect existing OneDrive users:

  1. Office 365 Home, Personal and University customers are limited to 1 TB of OneDrive storage instead of unlimited storage.
  2. The 100GB and 200GB OneDrive plans are discontinued. They are replaced by a 50GB plan for $1.99 per month in early 2016.
  3. Free storage will be reduced from 15GB to 5GB for all free users.
  4. The camera roll bonus of 15GB will be discontinued.

Many of the changes announced affect existing users as well as new users. Existing users may run into situations where they use more OneDrive storage than their new limits allow them to.

onedrive storage

Microsoft notes that it is aware of that, and that it tries to make the transition “as easy as possible for customers”.

What does that mean?

  1. Office 365 customers who use more than 1TB of storage will be notified that 1TB is the new limit. They have “at least 12 months” in which they can stay on the status quo.
  2. Office 365 subscribers may request a refund because of the service change.
  3. Free users who use more than 5 Gigabyte of storage do have 12 months as well. They get a free one-year Office 365 personal subscription offer.
  4. Customers who use OneDrive standalone storage plans are not affected by the change.

What happens if you don’t reduce excess storage during the grace period?

  1. Microsoft plans to inform OneDrive users about the change 90 days in advance.
  2. If users don’t react in that time period, the account will be set to read-only. Files can still be viewed and downloaded, but new files cannot be added and existing files cannot be edited anymore.
  3. The account will be locked after 9 months. Users may no longer access the content on OneDrive unless they take action.
  4. If there is still excess storage after 1 year, the content may be deleted.

For Office 365 subscribers, the following applies:

  1. Office 365 customers are notified about the change. They have at least 12 months starting on November 2 to make changes to the account.
  2. The account becomes read-only after that period. Access to the files is granted for at least 6 months afterwards.
  3. The account will be locked after the six month grace period.
  4. If there is still excess storage after 1 year, the content may be deleted.

OneDrive users have two options to comply with the new storage quotes. They may remove files to get below the quota, or, sign-up for the new 50GB plan or Office 365 and get 1TB of storage.

Office 365 subscribers who use more than 1TB of storage can remove files only to comply with the new terms.

OneDrive or Office 365 subscribers may check the status of their storage on this page.

Some questions remain unanswered. For instance, how do locked or deleted accounts affect Windows 10 users?

The new storage quotas pale against what company’s like Google offer. Google users can increase storage by 100GB for $1.99 or by 1TB for D9.99 per month. Unlike Microsoft customers, Google customers may sign-up for larger storage options as well.

The free OneDrive offering gets less attractive because of the change as well. Google users get 15GB of free storage while Microsoft customers only 5GB.

Closing Words

I’m puzzled by Microsoft’s reasoning for the change. While I can understand that it is not in the best interest of the company to allow users to store unlimited data on company servers, it should have been clear right from the start that this can happen.

What is particularly unclear to me is why the change is affecting free users of the service as the reason Microsoft gives for making the change does not mention free accounts at all.

The change puts Microsoft at a severe disadvantage. Especially the lack of storage plans, the only one being 50GB or an Office 365 subscription to get 1TB, and the lack of options to buy extra storage, need to be mentioned in this regard.

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