Microsoft Nixes Unlimited OneDrive Cloud Storage for Consumers

Too much of a good thing? Microsoft reverses its decision to offer unlimited OneDrive storage on Office 365 consumer accounts after some users put a little too much of their digital lives on the service.


During the ever-escalating cloud storage war last year, Microsoft bundled unlimited OneDrive storage with Office 365 Home, Personal and University plans. At the time, Chris Jones, corporate vice president of Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint, described the move as a "small part of our broader promise to deliver a single experience across work and life that helps people store, sync, share, and collaborate on all the files that are important to them."

Today, a few bad apples ruined things for everyone, claims Microsoft.

"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," claimed Microsoft's OneDrive group in a late Monday blog post. "In some instances, this exceeded 75 TB [terabytes] per user or 14,000 times the average."

So Microsoft is taking OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) somewhat back to its file storage, sync and share roots. "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."

Previously unlimited OneDrive storage for Office 365 consumer subscriptions—defined as Home, Personal and University plans—is being knocked down to 1TB of storage, effective immediately. Current subscribers with more than 1TB of data in their OneDrive accounts will be notified of the overage and will have 12 months to remove the excess data from the service.

Microsoft is offering prorated refunds to current subscribers for whom unlimited OneDrive storage was a make-or-break factor in purchasing an Office 365 plan. Free, non-Office 365 OneDrive accounts are being downgraded from 15GB to 5GB early next year. The 15GB camera roll storage bonus, a perk for users who backed up images taken on their mobile phones, is being discontinued, the company added.

Also in early 2016, a 50GB plan for $1.99 per month will replace the 100GB and 200GB paid plans. Current paid stand-alone OneDrive plans will remain unaffected by the changes.

According to David Lavenda, vice president of product strategy at, a mobile collaboration software specialist, the move indicates that Microsoft misjudged the market.

While OneDrive will remain competitive with rival offerings after the changes take hold, consumers may remain leery. "What comes into play is a pricing faux pas known as the 'framing effect,' which is a well-known cognitive bias. The framing effect shows that people will react to the same pricing choices differently based on how they are presented, and this is where Microsoft fell down," Lavenda told eWEEK in an email today.

"Even though the new offering is strong—especially when compared to Google and Dropbox—it will be seen as a weaker offering by consumers because it is presented as a downgrade from the original plan," he concluded.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...