When we canvased some of the best hard drive and cloud solutions for archiving your images in June (subscriber link) we singled out Microsoft’s OneDrive for praise, noting that it was one of the best deals around. For the price of a Microsoft Office 365 subscription ($99/year), you could enjoy unlimited file storage on the OneDrive cloud.
Well, evidently the folks in Redmond have had a change of heart about that “unlimited” thing.
According to a company blog post, Microsoft is reneging on its offer of unlimited storage for Microsoft 365 subscribers because some users were storing a lot of files on OneDrive:
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.
This serves as a useful reminder that not only is Microsoft limiting your storage, they’re peering into the contents of your cloud drive, too. (They’ve made no secret that they do this.)
Microsoft is doing more than just capping storage limits for Office 365 subscribers, they’re also dramatically scaling back their free storage tier. Here’s what you can expect:
- Starting now, Microsoft 365 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 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.
While it’s certainly understandable from a financial aspect, any photographer or videographer who took Microsoft at their word is now faced with the unpleasant prospect of paying more than they anticipated or migrating their files to another cloud server.
This is also cautionary tale about the perils of cloud storage. Files stored on a third party’s servers are ultimately subject to that party’s terms of service and as Microsoft has just usefully demonstrated, those terms can change to your detriment. Cloud storage has many benefits and can be a useful option for your files. Until it isn’t.