OneDrive accounts blocked by Microsoft

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Without a clear reason, Microsoft has started blocking paid OneDrive accounts. is reporting a disturbing new trend from Microsoft … locking customers out of their OneDrive accounts without notice or clear reason.

According to the report, customers may get a message like this when they login to OneDrive

Your account is currently unavailable

Your OneDrive or Profile might be temporarily blocked because it has been experiencing an unusually large volume of traffic. In this case, the block will be removed after 24 hours.

It might also have been taken offline for suspicious activity or a violation of the Microsoft services agreement or code of conduct. If you believe this is not the case, request a review of the problem by contacting customer support. However, if customer support finds content which is in violation, then you’ll need to remove all violating content within 48 hours or your account will be shut down.

Microsoft is acting heavy-handed and the reasons given unclear. Locking customers out is something Microsoft is entitled to do according to its rules but they make it hard for a customer to protest.

Firstly, Microsoft doesn’t say whether the block is because of an “unusually large volume of traffic” or “suspicious activity“. The company knows what their reason is, so why not say so? A simple IF or CASE statement in the ASP.NET code can show the customer an appropriate message. Displaying a single message covering multiple reasons is deliberate tactic to make it harder for customers to protest.

If the reason is traffic related – then giving a date/time that the block will be lifted would be appropriate, possible and just plain polite.

suspicious activity” covers a lot of ground but the most likely reasons for a OneDrive lockout from the Code of Conduct list are:

  • includes content that is protected by intellectual property laws, rights of privacy or publicity, or any other applicable law unless you own or control the rights thereto or have received all necessary consents.”

    • In other words, people are sharing pirated music and video via OneDrive.

  • “incites, advocates, or expresses pornography, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity, hatred, bigotry, racism, or gratuitous violence.”

By now, the fact that Microsoft is checking the contents of your files stored with them should surprise no-one. For example, reading someone’s private Hotmail account, being a ‘team player‘ with the NSA and a broad Terms of Use.

Other cloud storage companies have similar rules e.g. Dropbox has an Acceptable Use Policy. We’re not aware of any other company so aggressively and obscurely enforcing their rules.

The message quoted above isn’t clear about how a customer can remove ‘violating content’ within 48 hours if that content is offline and unavailable to the customer.

Sure, Microsoft can enforce rules on their cloud storage and is probably required to in some cases. It could get the same result in a much more transparent and polite manner. Alas, these days Microsoft’s corporate mentality doesn’t seem to allow for either openness nor courtesy.

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