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If you were planning to take advantage of Microsoft's unlimited cloud storage, well, we've got bad news. That storage is getting much more limited. OneDrive, Microsoft's cloud storage service, used to offer absolutely unlimited storage to paid Office 365 subscribers. For under $10 a month, you could upload terabyte after terabyte of archived files, backed up computers, or funny cat videos. As of Monday, those days are over.
Could this mark the end of endless cloud storage?
From Unlimited to Still a Lot of Storage
Just over a year ago, Microsoft announced that it would give unlimited OneDrive cloud storage to consumer Office 365 subscribers. Starting at just $6.99 a month, OneDrive was suddenly one of the most competitive cloud storage options on the 'net. The move put Microsoft ahead of Google Drive, Dropbox, and Apple's iCloud, none of which offered unlimited storage. It was "the latest salvo in the cloud price wars," as ZDNet described it at the time.
It was also a mistake. Unsurprisingly, certain users actually took "unlimited" seriously. "A small number of users backed up numerous PCs and stored entire movie collections and DVR recordings," Microsoft explained when it announced the change. Some stored more than 75 terabytes, or 14,000 times the average of 5.36 gigabytes. According to Arstechnica, 75TB is about $1,800 dollars of raw disk capacity. That means Microsoft was spending a relatively large amount of money on a comparatively small amount of digital hoarders. They ratcheted the cap back to just 1 terabyte, about what you'd get on Google Drive for a similar price.
The End of an Era?
If Microsoft was trying to set a trend back in 2014, other storage providers didn't follow. Cheap, expansive storage is common. Cheap, unlimited storage never quite caught on. Even Google, king of free everything, charges $300 a month for 30 terabytes of cloud storage. You'd need to pay around $750 a month to get the 75 TB that OneDrive power users were getting for under $7. So instead of leading the pack into the brave new world of virtually free, actually endless storage, Microsoft is joining the rest of the herd.
But, there might be hope for OneDrive business users. The changes announced on Monday specifically address only consumer accounts. If you or your firm had a OneDrive for Business account, you didn't get the unlimited storage consumer accounts did last year -- but you still might in the future. In September, Microsoft told ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley that it was still "working towards" unlimited storage for business. The company hasn't announced if those plans are still going forward.