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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  • nils_ - Thursday, November 5, 2015 - link

    Would you feel the same way about your e-mail?
  • melgross - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    Why do they have to know? Because they say they need to? What difference does it make what kind of file is being backed up?
  • Mushkins - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    They need to know because in certain areas of the world they are legally liable for what is being stored/shared from their service. If someone is distributing illegal content or using their service to commit crimes, Microsoft can either shut them down or potentially be considered an accomplice to the activity.
  • Notmyusualid - Monday, November 9, 2015 - link

    Nope - you can't, by definition, abuse unlimited.
  • melgross - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    Sorry but, you're wrong. It's BS for them to need to investigate people's files. What purpose does that really serve? Does it matter what's being backed up? And what does the type of file matter? A backup does just that, it backs up whatever the user needs. It doesn't have to know what the file type is.
  • CoreLogicCom - Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - link

    I'm sorry, what? You don't think sys admins don't have a right to monitor server storage for unapproved usage? We can run reports on file types, sizes and quantities stored and make judgment calls for the good of the organization and not just put individual users first and let the wild west run wild. Anything on shared storage is subject to review, everyone should know this by now. It doesn't matter whether this is a physical file server or one in the cloud.
  • Lerianis - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    CoreLogicCom, this was NOT unapproved usage. Microsoft HAD to have known that some people were going to use this service as a backup everything service in the real world.
  • melgross - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    This is different. This isn't people putting files in the corporate system. This is backup, pure and simple. It doesn't matter what that backup is. Microsoft has no legal responsibility regarding what files are being backed up any more than Amazon does, in their own quest to know what users are doing.
  • nils_ - Thursday, November 5, 2015 - link

    Don't have a right? It depends on the contract, but there is no special privilege that applies to system admins. That is why we use quotas in the first place. In my country it would be considered a crime if I looked at a users files and I think that's a good policy since I don't want anyone else to look - of course I don't use "the cloud" and encrypt most everywhere.
  • damianrobertjones - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    Yeah, okay, I'm gathering that no other service does this then. /s

    P.s. I'd rather they check..l. you know... to CATCH and detain naughty picture/video distributers

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