All about Outlook.com, OneDrive storage and Microsoft 365

Here’s how Outlook.com mailbox storage limits work now for both Microsoft 365 customers and ‘free’ users too.  This is in advance of changes coming in February 2023.

Outlook.com is Microsoft’s free email service, formerly known as Hotmail.  It’s Microsoft’s rival to Google’s Gmail.

When you sign-up for Outlook.com, you also get cloud file storage on Microsoft’s OneDrive service (similar to Dropbox or Google Drive). An Outlook.com login is also a Microsoft account for access to Microsoft 365 and login to Windows.

At the moment, Outlook.com mail hosting and OneDrive storage are separate services but early next year they’ll be linked in new way

We’ll explain:

  • What everyone can get from Microsoft ‘free’ with just an Outlook.com account.
  • Extras for someone with a Microsoft 365 plan (Personal or Family) linked to Outlook.com
  • How people can have a Microsoft 365 plan but still NOT get those Outlook.com extras.
    • It’s a point that confuses many people.

Outlook.com is the modern name for Microsoft’s free mailbox service, it’s had other names and domain names in the past which some people still use, like @hotmail.com, @live.com, and @msn.com plus country specific alternatives such as @hotmail.co.uk etc.  Regardless of the domain name, it’s all the same service and limits

Outlook.com free

Creating a free Outlook.com account gives you, among other things;

  • Outlook.com mailbox
    • 15GB of online storage, mostly for emailIncludes file attachments (until 1 Feb 2023)
    • Also calendar and contacts
  • OneDrive cloud storage
    • 5GB
    • To save files, photos and videos with optional sharing.
  • A Microsoft Account
    • Using the @outlook.com email address for login
    • Can be used to login to Windows computers and share some settings.

Outlook.com linked to Microsoft 365

If your @outlook.com address (aka Microsoft account) is linked to a Microsoft 365 plan (Family or Personal), the Outlook.com mailbox gets a significant boost.

  • Outlook.com mailbox
    • 50GB of online storage, mostly for emailIncludes file attachments (until 1 Feb 2023)Personalized email address with your own domain (ends for new users on 30 November Feb 2023).
    • Ad-free in the web browser interface
    • Email encryption option – receivers have to view message in a browser.
    • “Advanced email security”
    • Also calendar and contacts
  • OneDrive cloud storage
    • 1TB (1000GB)
    • To save files, photos and videos with optional sharing.
  • A Microsoft Account (no change)
    • Using the @outlook.com email address for login
    • Can be used to login to Windows computers and share some settings.

That’s in addition to all the other Microsoft 365 plan benefits.

My Outlook.com doesn’t have the Microsoft 365 benefits

Here’s a common question to Office-Watch.com:

“ I have both a Microsoft 365 plan AND Outlook.com – but I don’t get the advertised ‘365’ benefits (50GB mailbox and 1TB of OneDrive) in Outlook.com?”

The @outlook.com account (strictly speaking Microsoft account) has to be directly linked to a Microsoft 365 plan.   If your Microsoft 365 login is a different email address, then the @outlook.com benefits don’t apply.  Even though they are used by the same person, Microsoft’s systems don’t know that, each Microsoft account is considered a separate ‘person’. As Microsoft puts it:

“… these benefits only apply if your subscription is associated with an Outlook.com account. Outlook.com accounts have email addresses ending in @outlook.com, @hotmail.com, @live.com, and @msn.com.”

For example: 

  • Fred has a Microsoft 365 plan using his [email protected] Microsoft account plus a separate Outlook.com account (say [email protected] ).  Fred’s Outlook.com account only gets 15GB mailbox because his Microsoft 365 plan uses a different login to his outlook.com account.
  • Meantime Bruce has a Microsoft 365 plan linked to his outlook.com/Microsoft account (say [email protected]) so he has a 50GB mailbox with all the other extras.


Outlook.com will be using up your OneDrive quota
How to view and delete your Outlook.com attachments
Two ways to open a OneDrive document in Microsoft Office
Do it while you can, a personal email address with Outlook.com
Outlook.com attachments to OneDrive: unanswered questions

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