Office 365’s unlimited cloud

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Microsoft has really made Office 365 more compelling by raising their online OneDrive storage from 1 Terabyte to Unlimited for Office 365 subscribers.

If you have Office 365 Personal, Home, University or Business account, the OneDrive storage limit will be effectively removed entirely.  For Home subscribers, shared among several people, each account attached to the Home service gets unlimited OneDrive storage.

It means that for US$99 a year, up to 5 people in a family can get Office 2013 or Office for Mac plus Office for iPad, the Office Mobile apps plus all the cloud storage they want.  The same deal is $69 for one person.

Office 365 Business customers have unlimited OneDrive storage added to their Office 365 roadmap which is Microsoft list of promises for the foreseeable future.

Compare that with the prices for cloud storage alone from Google, Dropbox (both about $10 a month for 1TB) and you’ll see that Microsoft is serious about clearing away any competition.  That’s good for customers.  Mind you, Google and especially Dropbox have other advantages.

That’s the practical effect for Office 365 subscribers/renters.

Coming soon or sooner

This will happen over the next few months but in the meantime you can ask for early access from this link.

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You’ll be sent an email when your OneDrive storage limit is lifted.

Generous?  Maybe not?

In reality, Microsoft isn’t being that generous.   They have good statistics on cloud storage use for millions of people so they know that most people don’t get near the current 1 Terabyte limit, let alone more.  The average OneDrive data use is relatively low.

So Microsoft has decided that the marketing and PR value of saying ‘unlimited’ is worth the low risk of some people making massive use of OneDrive.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that, for most people, it takes a lot of time to upload terabytes of data.  The same amount can be copied across a LAN or to an external drive in minutes.

Unlimited?  Probably not.

Dunno about you but we’re always wary of ‘unlimited’ offers.  Usually in the fine print is some weasel words that are an effective cap.

For example ‘unlimited’ data plans for phones or broadband always have a vague ‘fair use’ provision that lets the company cut you off.  We’ve not seen indication of what Microsoft has done to cover themselves the FAQ says little), but there’s surely something in place.  You can bet there’s smarties who’ll upload many Terabytes of data just to see what happens.

The Unlimited offer only applies to OneDrive storage.  There are storage limits to Exchange Server / Office 365 hosted email.

Private?  Definitely not.

One of the reasons Microsoft is going ‘unlimited’ is because they’re seeing a longer term drop in enthusiasm for cloud storage.

While Microsoft is putting on a brave face and all sorts of vague assurances, they know that privacy is a growing issue.  At some stage all the cloud storage providers will have to really deal with the issue of customer privacy rather than just lip service.

At the moment, anything you put on OneDrive is available to government agencies, who automatically get details of the file name, size, who saved the file etc.  The entire document is available from Microsoft on request from governments.

And Microsoft itself can access your OneDrive files anytime they like, without notice to you or your permission.  They’ve done it in the past and, despite vague assurances, have retained the right to read your documents in their terms of use.

On top of all that is the risk of some hacker getting access to your account.

So, by all means, store ‘unlimited’ Terabytes of data on OneDrive … but don’t have any expectation of privacy.

Little wonder that more people are looking at more private storage options and ‘personal clouds’ like BT Sync.

The Microsoft trap

What Microsoft really wants to do is increase the links between you, your devices and Microsoft services.  They want to make it hard to choose another provider.  This is something that Apple has done very well and Microsoft wants to catch up.

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