Free Cloud Drives for Data Backup

computer servers
Cloud storage obviously relies on hardware, not a cumulonimbus.

In the week that Microsoft announces plans to cut its free cloud storage limit, Alex Viall from Mustard IT looks at the implications and suggests some affordable alternatives.

Bucking the Trend

In recent years, there has been an almost universal trend for companies to raise their cloud storage to satisfy the ever-increasing consumer demand for downloading movies, music, and uploading more pixel-heavy photos. However, Microsoft appears to have bucked this trend.

Why is Microsoft reducing its free cloud storage?

In the autumn of 2015, Microsoft announced that it would be reducing its free cloud storage from 15GB to just 5GB in its Office 365 platform, despite originally promising ‘Unlimited Storage’. The company has revealed that a minority of customers were taking advantage of this unlimited storage by storing large movies and other very data-heavy files. Microsoft revealed that, in some cases, users were holding more than 75TB of data on their OneDrive accounts, which was more than 14,000 times the average memory storage.

Microsoft still offering free storage for up to 5GB

The company will now limit OneDrive storage to 5GB, down from the original limit of 15GB, and storage for Home, Personal and University subscribers will be capped at 1TB. However, users who have exceeded this limit will have 12 months to move their data elsewhere, after which it will be deleted.

Changes will ‘benefit the majority of OneDrive users’

In a blog post in November 2015, Microsoft said it would make sure the transition is as smooth as possible, adding that its goal was to deliver high-value productivity so that the majority of OneDrive users can benefit. It’s important to remember that most customers won’t be negatively impacted by the new data limit, because most OneDrive customers won’t go anywhere near the 1TB limit, let alone 75TB.

Taking Effect in 2016

The changes don’t even take effect until early 2016, so users should have plenty of time to make the necessary provisions to ensure they don’t lose their data. On a more positive note, customers with 100GB or 200GB plans will be unaffected by the change.

If you’re using the 50GB option, however, Microsoft will begin charging $1.99 per month in 2016, although this is unlikely to cause too much uproar. In fact, users will even have the opportunity to sign up for a one-year Office 365 Personal subscription free of charge, which will have 1GB of storage.

Alternative Cloud Storage

The Apple iCloud drive provides free storage for up to 5GB, while Box offers up to 10G of free storage with a 250MB upload limit per file. Meanwhile, ADrive offers up to 50GB of free cloud storage, and up to 100GB for just $2.50 per month.

Don’t forget – it’s not just Microsoft that’s reducing its data storage limits

Although this might seem like a blow for Microsoft’s reputation, excessive memory usage – or rather ‘exploitation’ of unlimited data options – is a problem facing other brands, too. Dropbox has also cut its free storage from 5GB to 2GB, and Amazon Cloud Drive recently discontinued its free cloud storage service. You might also wish to consider investing in larger hard drive (i.e. 4TB or 8TB) to store all your photos and movies.

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