Microsoft OneDrive price hike could push consumers to cloud rivals

Microsoft is putting the squeeze on its OneDrive users by cutting storage limits and raising prices, at a time when many other cloud vendors offer more affordable consumer storage options.

microsoft cloud

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks at a Microsoft event in San Francisco

Credit: REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

What's with companies that promise consumers "unlimited" use of their products and then get bent out of shape when people take them up on the offer? So-called "data hogs" get their download speeds throttled if they consume too much data on their mobile devices, and now Microsoft is inveighing against users who store too much data on its supposedly unlimited OneDrive storage service.

As if Microsoft's decision to crack down on the tiny percentage of users who, well, use too much storage space wasn't bad enough, it's also cutting storage and raising prices for everybody who subscribes to OneDrive.

Microsoft no longer plans to offer unlimited storage for Office 365 Home, Personal, or University subscribers; instead, those people now get 1TB of storage for their money. Starting in 2016, Microsoft will replace its $2-a-month 100GB and $4-a-month 200GB plans for new users on OneDrive with a 50GB plan that costs $2 per month, according to a company blog post that announced the changes on Monday night. Free OneDrive storage is also being scaled down from 15GB to 5GB for current and new users. The company's 15GB camera roll storage bonus will also be discontinued.

No excuse for Microsoft's flip flopping on 'unlimited' storage

Microsoft isn't messing around, either. Users who fail to heed warnings that they are over quota, and who do not pay for the extra storage, will have their accounts locked after nine months and possibly deleted after a year.

Although reneging on unlimited offers seems sleazy, it's not hard to understand why some companies do it. Wireless carriers, for example, sometimes have legitimate network management and capacity issues that call for a bit of pressure on ultra-heavy downloaders. But Microsoft has no such excuse. Storage is really cheap these days, and managing huge data stores is something enterprises do all the time.

At the same time, modern consumers collect more data, particularly photos and videos, than ever before — but the new computers they store it all on are equipped with smaller hard drives than in the past. Older electro-mechanical drives are being phased out in favor of faster, less fragile, solid-state drives, which tend to be smaller and more expensive on a per-GB basis.

If your new computer has only 125GB of internal storage, chances are you'll be moving lots of stuff to the cloud, via a service like OneDrive.

Mad at Microsoft? Vote with your wallet

If you're a OneDrive user, and you want to express your dissatisfaction with the move, check out the competition. As Microsoft cuts back, Google, Apple, and Amazon.com are making their cloud storage options more affordable.

Here are some other options, along with pricing details, from Microsoft's cloud rivals:

  • Google Drive offers 15GB of free storage; 100 GB costs $2 a month; a 1TB goes for $10 a month; and 10TB cost $100 monthly.
  • Apple iCloud includes 5GB of free space; 50GB goes for $1 a month; 200GB costs $3; and 1TB goes for $10 monthly.
  • Amazon Cloud Drive includes unlimited photo storage, plus 5GB for videos and files, for $12 a year; and "unlimited everything" costs $60 a year.
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