Microsoft Kills Unlimited OneDrive Storage, Blames User Abuse - InformationWeek

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11/3/2015
01:06 PM
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Microsoft Kills Unlimited OneDrive Storage, Blames User Abuse

Microsoft claims abusers are forcing its hand and the company will dramatically reduce its free online storage offerings beginning next year.

Office 2016: 8 Enterprise-Worthy Features
Office 2016: 8 Enterprise-Worthy Features
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Microsoft said Monday it plans to cut free and paid OneDrive storage allotments due to abuse. The company is slashing storage totals across the board in a rare cloud crackdown.

This is why we can't have nice things.

Microsoft has offered unlimited OneDrive cloud storage to Office 365 consumer subscribers for about a year. The idea of "unlimited" storage apparently served as a dare to a handful of users, who decided to store literally every digital bit in their lives on Microsoft's servers.

"A small number of users backed up numerous PCs and stored entire movie collections and DVR recordings. In some instances, this exceeded 75TB per user or 14,000 times the average," said Microsoft in a blog post. This did not make Microsoft happy, and it decided to drop the hammer on everyone rather than ban those few who took advantage of Microsoft's generous offer.

(Image: Nicolas McComber/iStockphoto)

(Image: Nicolas McComber/iStockphoto)

Microsoft will now no longer offer unlimited storage to Office 365 Home, Personal, or University subscribers. These users will now be capped at 1TB of OneDrive storage. That's still a healthy amount, but 1TB can be filled quickly when media files are involved. Microsoft said customers who have more than 1TB already in storage will be able to keep the excess allotment for 12 months. Microsoft will issue prorated refunds to people who feel the changes make Office 365 unattractive.

The 100GB and 200GB paid plans are going away as an option moving forward, though people who already pay for them can keep them. From now on, the highest paid offering will be limited to 50GB and cost $1.99 per month. This change takes effect in early 2016.

[Read Outlook On iOS, Android Gets UI Revamp.]

Perhaps most painfully, free OneDrive storage will drop from 15GB to 5GB for all users, current and new. This includes the 15GB camera roll bonus (granted when people choose to auto-backup photos from smartphones). This change also takes place in early 2016. Those using more than the 5GB free allotment will also be able to keep their excess storage for 12 months. Moreover, Microsoft said customers will be able to redeem a free one-year Office 365 Personal subscription, which comes with 1TB of OneDrive storage.

The drop in free storage is severe, representing a 66% cut. Google Drive, by way of comparison, still offers 15GB of free online storage with a Google account.

"OneDrive has always been designed to be more than basic file storage and backup. These changes are needed to ensure that we can continue to deliver a collaborative, connected, and intelligent service. They will allow us to continue to innovate and make OneDrive the best option for people who want to be productive and do more," concluded Microsoft.

What do you think? Is this a measured response, or way too harsh?

Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio

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Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
11/7/2015 | 2:02:02 AM
Re: Microsoft Kills Unlimited OneDrive Storage, Blames User Abuse
This is really a dilemma. The abusers are bad guys but simply rolling back to old days will not solve the problem. Instead MS should think about how to build solution to ban abusers while still allow normal users to access.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
11/5/2015 | 9:18:46 PM
alternatives?
"... storage will drop from 15GB to 5GB,"

I'm way passed the 5GB-limit. I should be start looking for alternatives. Hello again Google Drive.
Banacek
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Banacek,
User Rank: Ninja
11/4/2015 | 2:33:46 PM
Marketing vs. business/tech
This is all a marketing issue. I'm sure it was the marketing folks who said "We should do this! It'll be a great selling point!" without asking the tech folks. Because I can't believe one tech person wouldn't have said "Um, you do realize that if you make it, people will abuse it".

Heck, years ago when Google started giving away unlimited email, or 1 GB of email space, developers worked up tools and software to figure out how to make the email system work like a pseudo offline file storage area so they could store stuff off-line easily (and not just email themselves a file).

It's what geeks do. They like to see if they can get something to do what they want it to do. And they tend to be cheap.  So if they can use something for free, it's perfect! And they tend to have way too much time on their hands, for who has the time to rip your entire DVD collection, let alone the time it takes to copy all those files off site.
Banacek
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Banacek,
User Rank: Ninja
11/4/2015 | 2:27:15 PM
Re: Microsoft fails again....
It doesn't matter what merriam webster defines 'unlimited' as. Phone companies used to have 'unlimited' data plans, but that applied to what services you could access. Or perhaps you could access only port 80 and port 25, but use as much as you want.

Not to mention when you sign up for the service you agree to terms and conditions which, undoubtedly, give MS the option to change the terms and conditions at any time. As do most companies that do this sort of thing.

And you say you have no problem with them changing or improve their product. Well, that's what they did. Who says they got 'mad' at the users. They can just say that the lack of restrictions was causing issues with the majority of their users, due to clogged bandwidth or the like.

But its nice to know you like MS enough that you would find them guilty on any legal case that came before you, regardless of what it was.
jwlittle5
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jwlittle5,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/4/2015 | 12:23:31 PM
Re: Microsoft Kills Unlimited OneDrive Storage, Blames User Abuse
@msims20701 That sounds ludicrous, measuring a user's current disk space consumption by totalling past upload activity.  If the OS doesn't provide a way to query file properties by originating user/web account, then MS needs to use a server app to record disk usage in a databae.  What will they do when a user terminates their account, leave files on disk indefinitely?  

I'm not a MS hater, but they should have foreseen that an "unlimited" offer would lead to some type of abuse and prepared a more focussed response that wouldn't annoy conscientious customers. These cutbacks sound out of proportion to the abuse.  It may be a cover for a shift in their business model that was wanted for other reasons.  The bigger question:  Did MS actually promise something they couldn't deliver?
msims20701
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msims20701,
User Rank: Strategist
11/4/2015 | 10:19:03 AM
Re: Microsoft Kills Unlimited OneDrive Storage, Blames User Abuse
 I can understand but it would be very diffcult to pinpoint the actual abusers on a huge cloud-based storage system it's much like finding a bunch of needles in a haystack. The net admins would have to go and analyze how much bandwidth each supposed abuser was using during peak hours of say either 4am-6am when some people do either their backups before work or 6pm-12pm after work.

Then they have to identify which user accounts are using most of that shared bandwidth and track down the group of IP addresses that are attached to the cloud servers. It's no easy task as would any net admin would tell you in the nature of the beast that is called Cyber Forensics.

The only thing that Microsolf could do was to cut back on the storage and cap it at a limit. I know backing up your DVR and other videos to an external 2+ TB drive is one thing but backing up your entire DVR and video collection to the cloud where 75TB per user is rediculous.

Considering the average prices of 4TB external drives being on average under $150 USD a pop is affordable of which now the 6 TB units are going for under $300.00 which isn't bad at all either. I use my 4TB Segate external USB 3.0 e-SATA drive to backup all of my DVR, videos and pictures and have oly used up 2 TB of the total storage and I have a feeling that the remaining storage will be used up fast in a few months.

Cloud storage is good for storing only media that you really want to share with someone and collaborate with which are the other productive uses that Microsoft is refering to not to hoard data like a pack rat for months and years. Other people need the space to do the same. The abusers never take these things into account when they think that all of that storage space will be theirs forever.     
SheltonG691
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SheltonG691,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/4/2015 | 9:19:43 AM
Microsoft fails again....
merriam-webster dictionary defines unlimited as:

1. Lacking any controls

2. boundless, infinite

 

Well it appears that Microsoft lied about the intent of their product.  I can tell you this much if I was sitting on a jury and a leagal case came to me Microsoft would be 100% at fault.  If Microsoft didn't want users to store whatever they wanted then then should have put limits and maxes on their product.  

 

I have no problem with them wanting to change and or improve their product.  That is their choice but to get mad at users for using what they were allowed is purely stupid.
tag4001
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tag4001,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/4/2015 | 4:21:54 AM
Microsoft Kills Unlimited OneDrive Storage, Blames User Abuse
What's new?  It's always the case of a few bad apples that ends up screwing it all up for the rest of the population.

Abusers are outright disrespectful and selfish.

It would've been great, had MSFT just targeted the abusers, but the clean up work is potentially more challenging than doing a global policy.  Or once again, the few bad apples, creates opportunities for MSFT to have an excuse to rollback a strategy that has gone ill.
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