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RapidShare scraps unlimited storage with short notice

Even customers who paid in advance for long-term unlimited storage at RapidShare will see it disappear on March 20. The company says its terms of service permit such abrupt changes.

RapidShare logo

Online storage provider RapidShare is expanding what it offers for its free service -- but it's also scrapped its earlier unlimited plan, even for customers who paid in advance for a longer-term period.

The Swiss company, with more than 50 employees, more than a thousand servers, and the capacity to store several petabytes of user data, announced the change March 12. Paying customers get a choice between a 250GB plan costing 10 euros ($12.96) a month and a 500GB plan costing 20 euros a month. The previous unlimited-storage option vanishes Wednesday.

The change reflects a reality for cloud computing customers: When you don't own and control your own hardware and software, your computing life is in others' hands. Plenty of benefits come with the approach -- most people don't enjoy being sysadmins, for example -- but it's not a free lunch.

One customer who contacted CNET is incensed about RapidShare's change, because he's got more than 5 terabytes of data stored at the service. RapidShare offered him a customized option -- more than 700 euros per month. That's a huge increase over the 199 euros he paid for the two-year plan. He's still got six months left on that plan.

And the company is making the change abruptly. Paying customers must decide what plan to choose by March 20.

In contrast, when Mozy scrapped its unlimited storage plan in 2011, it honored the arrangements it had made with customers through the ends of the terms they'd paid for.

RapidShare said in a statement to CNET that it may change its plans at any time: "According to our terms of use we are entitled to change the contents of RapidPro services. Customers who don't like the new terms can cancel with 30 days' notice and receive reimbursement proportional to the length of their remaining term."

RapidShare made the change after deciding to extend its RapidDrive software, which links the service to the Windows file system, to free-account users.