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Backup backflip: Microsoft cuts OneDrive storage across the board

Microsoft says the "extreme backup" habits of a small number of users have given it no option but to axe unlimited OneDrive storage, and cut limits across its other plans.

Claire Reilly Former Principal Video Producer
Claire Reilly was a video host, journalist and producer covering all things space, futurism, science and culture. Whether she's covering breaking news, explaining complex science topics or exploring the weirder sides of tech culture, Claire gets to the heart of why technology matters to everyone. She's been a regular commentator on broadcast news, and in her spare time, she's a cabaret enthusiast, Simpsons aficionado and closet country music lover. She originally hails from Sydney but now calls San Francisco home.
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  • Webby Award Winner (Best Video Host, 2021), Webby Nominee (Podcasts, 2021), Gold Telly (Documentary Series, 2021), Silver Telly (Video Writing, 2021), W3 Award (Best Host, 2020), Australian IT Journalism Awards (Best Journalist, Best News Journalist 2017)
Claire Reilly
3 min read

Microsoft has announced a major overhaul of its OneDrive storage plans, blaming a "small number" of over-enthusiastic users for exceeding reasonable use for its unlimited storage service.

As a result, Microsoft will not only axe its unlimited storage offering for Office 365 Home, Personal and University subscribers from early 2016, but it will also cut back storage limits on all other plans.

Microsoft's answer to cloud storage rivals such as Dropbox, Google Drive and the Apple-centric iCloud, OneDrive allows users to store files in the cloud to be accessed anywhere. While OneDrive can be used on Mac, Android and iOS through an app download, the service is largely targeted at Windows users and has been baked into the operating system since Windows 8.

As the name suggests, Microsoft has looked to make its cloud storage product the one destination for users wanting to store all their photos, videos and files. And just like its rivals, the company has attempted to bring customers into the fold by offering free bonuses and offering unlimited storage allowances.

However, that is set to change with Microsoft curtailing storage for customers across the board. While the company said the changes were being made "in pursuit of productivity and collaboration," the announcement also chastised the "extreme" usage habits of a core of OneDrive customers.

"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," the statement from the OneDrive Team said.

"In some instances, this exceeded 75 TB per user or 14,000 times the average."

While the company insisted it was not focused on "extreme backup scenarios," these have led to a major backflip on its unlimited offering.

The company confirmed it will no longer offer unlimited storage to Office 365 Home, Personal or University subscribers, and would now offer 1TB of storage to those OneDrive customers.

The 100 GB and 200 GB paid plans, currently on offer for $1.99 and $2.99 respectively, will also no longer be available from "early 2016". Instead, new subscribers will be able to pay $1.99 for 50GB -- the same price for half the storage.

Finally, Microsoft has nixed its 15GB camera roll storage bonus and decreased Free OneDrive storage allowances from 15 GB to 5 GB "for all users, current and new" from early 2016.

While today's statement assured customers on "standalone OneDrive storage plans," such as the 100 or 200GB plans, that they were not affected by these changes, the company is set to "transition" other OneDrive users.

Those who have gone over their limits as defined by the new scheme, such as Office 365 consumers with more than 1TB of files or customers using more than 5GB of free storage, will be notified of the changes. Microsoft says these users will be able to keep their old storage limits "for at least 12 months." Users on the free plan will also be able to redeem a free one-year Office 365 subscription with 1TB of OneDrive storage, but will need a credit card to do so.

As a final note, Microsoft reiterated that "OneDrive has always been designed to be more than basic file storage and backup." However, from early next year, some customers may find the service to be more basic than what they're accustomed to.