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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  • Bob Todd - Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - link

    If you just need lots of cloud storage and aren't focused on the streaming aspect, Backblaze is only $5/month for unlimited and has a lot of features that folks wary of 'the cloud' may find very desirable (e.g. encryption). Reply
  • n3m4c - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    My issue with these small cloud services that offer super great deals is that one day I am going to wake up and all my data is gone because they went bankrupt. I have been using big players like Google and Microsoft for that reason, although perhaps Microsoft is even less reliable. I only have 9 GB on my free OneDrive account but I have slow upload speed and it took me 2 years to accumulate that, so this is very bad for me since I have to switch services and it's gonna take me for ever to do that Reply
  • pt376 - Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - link

    Having been a user since the Live Mesh days and using multiple Windows Phones since Wimo7, I have gotten about 45GB of "permanent" space. With this new policy, it is pretty much all gone. I have multiples of 5GBs just for photos alone. Apparently this is how MS treat their loyal customers. First they cripple the app, then they choke you out. Reply
  • silverblue - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    It's certainly a kick in the teeth to Lumia 1020 owners. 11MB a photo at 38MP and those photos quickly mount up. Are we having to back off to 5MP? The only setting in-between is the 16:9 ratio 34MP, and that's a small decrease.

    They only just announced the 950 series as well; along with backups plus the vaunted ability to "use your phone as a PC", snap-happy people are going to run out of that 5GB pretty sharpish. Their store still lists "up to 30GB" of OneDrive storage on both the 950 and 950 XL; shouldn't they be changing this?

    I am due an upgrade by Christmas. Either I opt for an alternative storage medium, or I ditch MS altogether. Groove gives 100GB, but that totally depends on whether you actually want to pay £9 a month (there isn't any mention as to how Groove is affected, either).
    Reply
  • Bob Todd - Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - link

    Dick move Microsoft. You had been doing so much right lately too. I'm not denying that the $70 Office 365 option with 1TB is still a good deal if you want office and need a generous amount of online storage. And the 5x1TB you get for $100 for the Home subscription is even better. But even though I'm unlikely to use more than 1TB, the "unlimited" bit pushed me over the edge when I was considering subscribing for the early access to the beta OS X Office apps. I will likely cancel my subscription. Backblaze here I come. Reply
  • npz - Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - link

    Hah! I had already predicted this in the last post about so-called "unlimited" storage on the Anandtech article. I had already stated there was absolutely no way it was actually unlimited. Because if you look at everyone else who is offfering "unlimited" storage -- such as Backblaze or Acronis -- you will that there are some severe restrictions and limits put in at their discretion in the terms.

    The 1TB cap and the reduction in tiers is because the lack of competition in that space. They put themselves out there, everyone took advantage of it and they were paying the price. However, I bet it'll creep up if everyone in the online storage space also ups the storage too.

    On the other hand, all this could've been a clever ploy to get lots of people to sign up.

    Now, if this were something like an actual contract -- and not TOS that Microsoft could change at any time as per usual-- I bet you absolutely would not have seen unlimited storage advertised at the beginning.
    Reply
  • Gigaplex - Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - link

    When does this take effect? My account still says I've got the 15+15 allotment for my free account. If I quickly upload ~5GB of data right now to get over the 5GB threshold, does that mean I'll get the 1 year free offer for Office 365? Reply
  • tygrus - Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - link

    If they don't want users to use it without limits then they should have told the users there is a limit when they sign up. You can't market an offer as "unlimited" and then complain that users were using too much. They could have had several price tiers and then double the GB for each every 1 or 2 years. Users know what they are paying for, they know what the limits are, users get better deal over time as the $/GB comes down and they continue to use and add to their storage. Reply
  • 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. Reply
  • 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.
    Reply

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