Digital Life

Microsoft backflips on OneDrive cloud storage cut

Microsoft giveth, Microsoft taketh away, everyone complains so Microsoft giveth back.

In a world where free online storage is pretty much taken for granted, Microsoft made the surprising move last month of scaling back the storage it offers to OneDrive users. The unlimited cloud storage offered to Office 365 subscribers was wound back to a more manageable 1TB, with the change set to take place next year. Meanwhile the 15GB allowance for free accounts was slashed to 5GB and the camera roll upload allowance scrapped.

Microsoft is giving back the 10GB of free only storage it took away from users last month.
Microsoft is giving back the 10GB of free only storage it took away from users last month. Photo: Michael Nakamura

After a major outcry from users, Microsoft has backflipped on one of these decisions. The 1TB limit for Office 365 subscribers still stands, which is understandable considering that it was always going to be abused – there was always going to be someone who uploaded 75TB worth of movies and spoiled it for everyone. Instead Microsoft has reinstated the 15GB allowance for free accounts, along with another 15GB for camera roll uploads.

This puts OneDrive back on par with the 15GB of free storage offered by Google Drive, except that you're entitled to unlimited image storage via Google Photos. Meanwhile you get 5GB for free from Apple's iCloud or 2GB from Dropbox, which boosts you storage allowance if you use the photo import tools. All of these services offer extra storage if you throw a few dollars at them.

The exemptions for online photo storage are handy but approach these features with caution. If you're automatically uploading images from your mobile devices then you need to keep a close eye on your 3G/4G mobile data usage. Check for the option to only upload images when you're on Wi-Fi.

To get your free 15GB back from Microsoft you have to opt-in to the new deal, which sounds reasonable but is bit of a sneaky tactic which will ensure that many people don't get the full storage they're entitled to. If Microsoft really was as sorry as it claims to be then the change would automatically be applied to every account.

Can you make do with free online storage limits or do you hand over a few bucks? Which cloud storage service wins your business?

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