Limits of the ‘unlimited’

Did you know Microsoft OneDrive was offering unlimited cloud storage for Office 365 users? The key word in the previous sentence is ‘was’, because on November 2nd 2015 Microsoft published a blog post ( explaining why they were removing the offer of unlimited storage.

Sunday, 15th November 2015, 11:57 am
JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin

The reason given? People actually thought unlimited meant they could store as much data as they liked. Some even had 75TBs (terabytes) of data backed up in the cloud.

So now the unlimited plan is limited to 1TB, but Microsoft are going further. They are replacing their 100GB and 200GB plans with a single 50GB plan. On top of that they are reducing the free plan from 30GBs of storage (15GBs free +15GB camera roll bonus) down to 5GBs.

A lot of people online were understandably dismayed at this news.

So are there any unlimited cloud storage options still available? Yes there are and you don’t even have to spend a penny. A little known fact about Google Drive is that if you use one of the native applications (Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc.) the resulting files do not count towards your storage usage.

In case you don’t believe me, I ran a little test. I uploaded 90 Microsoft Office files to OneDrive for a total of 12.2MBs of storage space consumed. I then uploaded those same files to Google Drive and converted them to Google’s own file formats. The total space used was 0 bytes. The difference is even more noticeable when using rich content (images and videos) added to documents and presentations.

What about photos? Google Photos takes care of that. It offers unlimited storage for 16 megapixel images and below. That means most phones and cameras. It also extends that to 1080p videos too, which means unless you are a serious photographer or film maker who needs to upload full size images (there is an option to upload full size images if you want to maintain picture quality above 16 megapixels), the chances are you will never eat into your storage limit. If you are a serious photographer or film maker, then what are you doing looking for free options anyway?

All of this means you can get the most out of the 15GBs of free storage that Google give you.