back to article Microsoft: 2TB or not 2... OK, OK! 2TB. OneDrive dragged kicking and screaming into selling more storage

Microsoft finally joined the likes of Google and Apple and admitted that, yes, users might want more storage while also upping the security on its file shack. Need more than 1TB? After years of begging, OneDrive users are finally going to get some more space. For a fee. Once upon a time, Microsoft's cloudy storage was …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Once upon a time, Microsoft's cloudy storage was unlimited"

    That was the first mistake. Come on, the amount of storage is not something to base your difference on, at least not by that much. Unlimited says what it means, and it is blindingly obvious that it was only a question of time before that offer was tested.

    I think the marketing department is to blame there. They brainstormed and had meetings and drinks and . . okay, maybe not cocaine on prostitute butts, but still, they tried to find something to make a difference and they found "unlimited storage". What could possibly go wrong ?

    I'm pretty sure every engineer involved was screaming bloody murder at the prospect but hey, marketing rules the roost, right ? That is, until the shit hits the fan, at which point Marketing immediately points to Engineering and says it has nothing to do with the problem.

    Riiiight.

    1. NotWorkAdmin

      Re: "Once upon a time, Microsoft's cloudy storage was unlimited"

      I'm personally always surprised any company is permitted to use the word unlimited in advertising. There's no such thing.

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: "Once upon a time, Microsoft's cloudy storage was unlimited"

        What about stupidity?

        1. Arctic fox
          Happy

          @Korev Re: "What about stupidity?"

          Whose? The company's for making that offer or the customer's for believing in it? Or both?

    2. AIBailey Silver badge

      Re: "Once upon a time, Microsoft's cloudy storage was unlimited"

      The problem with "unlimited" in relation to storage space is that there's no real (sensible) upper limit

      Things like mobile phone contracts can offer "unlimited" voice, knowing that even if you talk for 24 hours per day, there's a hard limit of ~720 hours in a month. Likewise, "unlimited" data is limited by the transfer rate, and this can always be manipulated by the telco in order to keep things within flexible boundaries. In both cases, after the initial cost of infrastructure has been covered, it's all about sending packets of data, with no additional hardware resource.

      The problem with offering unlimited storage has always been the fact that this storage capacity has to translate into physical disks or SSD's somewhere along the line, and so your hardware requirements will have to scale in line with the needs of your customers.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: has to translate into physical disks or SSD's somewhere along the line

        Data compression could potentially play a part here. Data could in theory be being fed into a compressed drive which is gradually compressed more and more as limits are hit. If storing photos, watch out for those lossy formats e.g., jpeg which might inexplicably lose resolution over time.

        Not suggesting that this is happening in practice, but it is something to keep an eye on. The average user would not notice such things going on, only by monitoring space left when storing files, or doing periodic restores of images to see if there has been any bit-rot.

        1. Richocet Bronze badge

          Re: has to translate into physical disks or SSD's somewhere along the line

          More commonly with file systems, the same files start to appear duplicated or almost identical duplicates within a large account and across multiple accounts. So for your average business use, the amount of physical storage needed is a function somewhere between linear and logarithmic of the amount of files sent to it. However some data sets like radio astronomy and CERN produce vast streams of data that don't repeat so these have a linear relationship and are effectively uncompressible.

    3. swm Silver badge

      Re: "Once upon a time, Microsoft's cloudy storage was unlimited"

      I have a website on bluehost that advertises "unlimited" storage. Reading the fine print they mean 50,000 inodes and they take interest and 200,000 inodes before they take action. Their theory is that most websites are much smaller than this and that makes up for the few that aren't. My website is 3.6 GBytes and about 6000 inodes and they have never bothered me.

    4. the Jim bloke Silver badge

      Re: "Once upon a time, Microsoft's cloudy storage was unlimited"

      I think the marketing department is to blame there.

      Its pretty hard to find someanything the marketing department ISNT to blame for

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Meh

    "Google will take £7.99 a month off you for 2TB of space"

    Or in seven easy monthly payments of £7.99 you could own your very own physical 2TB drive then never pay anything again after that!

    1. Halfmad Silver badge

      Re: "Google will take £7.99 a month off you for 2TB of space"

      Which is fine if you don't want offsite backups*

      *managed by someone else who may "lose" data without explanation.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: "Google will take £7.99 a month off you for 2TB of space"

        You can carry the drive offsite to somewhere else and you have an offsite backup. Pretty good bandwidth too.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: "Google will take £7.99 a month off you for 2TB of space"

          Which will probably cost you more than £7.99 per month.

          Big yellow want that sort of money per week, plus I have to pay for the cost of media on top of that, though I could fit a lot more than 2TB in their 9ft x 9ft x 9ft locker.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: "Google will take £7.99 a month off you for 2TB of space"

            Well I was thinking more of family, work, or maybe a bank safe deposit box if you're already using one for something else.

      2. Jakester

        Re: "Google will take £7.99 a month off you for 2TB of space"

        re: Halfmad: Which is fine if you don't want offsite backups...

        The last time I checked, you can get a 2TB portable drive for well under $100 and then it can be disconnected from the computer and taken offsite. I like to use at least 3 drives and rotate so I have a good backup somewhere.

    2. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: "Google will take £7.99 a month off you for 2TB of space"

      very handy *if* you keep in your pocket to access the data whenever and wherever you need it

      and then the risk of damaging / losing the disk is far superior to the risk of your cloudy provider losing your data

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Google will take £7.99 a month off you for 2TB of space"

        I'd rather risk losing my own hard drive, then pay through the nose to have my data "potentially accessed by unauthorised 3rd parties, sorry, your MS".

        btw, with exception of a relatively small group of users, there is simply no reason for an average joe to "need" access to 2TB of data on the go, on hard drive or in the cloud. Of course, "need" is often ignored, WANT is the king :)

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: "Google will take £7.99 a month off you for 2TB of space"

        If you do need to get at 2TB of data wherever you are, it's going to take a long time to download it on mobile data or wifi. And, of course, you'd need a 2TB free to download it on to.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: "Google will take £7.99 a month off you for 2TB of space"

          I was just going to say the same thing! I wonder just how big the market really is for people who need instant, anywhere, anytime access to over 1TB of data and have the mobile data capacity to access it?

          My job means being on the road everyday and I've never even approached my monthly 2GB data limit. I take what I need with me on the tablet or phone or the pocket full of pen drives. It's quite rare for me to need to download anything significant while not at home. (I rarely ever bother to ask for local access on-site these days because the Guest WiFi is often shit in term of speed and restricted in what you can do. Likewise, using the clients PC is often a pain because you either can't save to external storage or if you can, it's only their own encrypted pen drives.

          Other people may have different mobile use cases and I'd be interested in what they are and how often it's used, is it essential rather than a "just a bit nice to have, just in case"

          1. Gary Heard

            Re: "Google will take £7.99 a month off you for 2TB of space"

            I've had one of the Dropbox accounts {(I know, I know....) that just doubled to 2 TB} for a few years and let everyone in the house use the account, that's 6 devices, and even now only have just over 200GB,

            How does anyone store that amount? as for getting it all back......

            1. katrinab Silver badge

              Re: "Google will take £7.99 a month off you for 2TB of space"

              I have about 30TB of data on my servers. Mostly videos.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "Google will take £7.99 a month off you for 2TB of space"

                The ones with the "Amish" girls in bonnets and the Clydesdales?

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "Google will take £7.99 a month off you for 2TB of space"

              "How does anyone store that amount? as for getting it all back......"

              One of my colleagues is a wedding photographer in their spare time. They have 5TB of photos (turns out that 20-40MP raw files eat hard disk space...) ...

            3. Korev Silver badge

              Re: "Google will take £7.99 a month off you for 2TB of space"

              How does anyone store that amount? as for getting it all back......

              I pulled down ~500GB from Dropbox with no issue (I replaced my old discs and thought I'd see if I could actually restore). It was however a bit slow, I never saw much beyond 150Mbs used on my 500Mbs connection despite using GigE.

          2. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: "Google will take £7.99 a month off you for 2TB of space"

            I think the major use case is for storage of video. If, for example, you either need to take video for your job and quickly send it or simply like the experience, cloud storage lets you take video from one location, quickly sync it off-site, store it in a system that has security and hardware managed by someone else*, pull it down in another place whether you're there or not, and maintain a certain amount of old footage for whatever reason the user might have. Since I don't do this, I don't use very much cloud storage. I do use some on a personal server (I think this counts because it works a lot like cloud), because there are sometimes things I want to have available from multiple places or devices, even if I haven't manually copied it to each one.

            *Security and hardware managed by someone else, who might do it badly. Cloud is no guarantee of reliability or security or anything for that matter. Terms and conditions apply. Consider multiple factors before purchasing.

    3. eamonn_gaffey

      Re: "Google will take £7.99 a month off you for 2TB of space"

      Agree. Spend GBP 50.00 on a 2TB portable device if needed. Otherwise, spend GBP 100.00 on a 2TB home NAS that can be accessed remotely. Take reponsibility for your own precious data !! :-).

    4. tip pc Silver badge

      Re: "Google will take £7.99 a month off you for 2TB of space"

      those drives (SSD or HDD) tend to fail after a while. is the extra £40 worth peace of mind that your data is safer or would you rather buy a 2 bay nas mirroring your 2tb disk and hope that after a few years you've evened the cost of cloud storage?

  3. Michael Kean

    Backups...

    Well, I think Google still wins with the ability to select random folders from your computer to be backed up, whereas OneDrive still requires the files to reside within the OneDrive folder.

    Although, admittedly, Google's backup and sync does like to break some apps from time to time by holding their files open during backup; and to mysteriously create gigabytes of files in %temp% for eternity.

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: Backups...

      Asus Webstorage has that limitation too. Doesn't bother me as I just symlink anything I want backed up.

      1. Richocet Bronze badge

        Re: Backups...

        Been there. My condolences in advance for when you need to upgrade your operating system or replace a hard drive that has the symlinks with one with a different size or partitioning arrangement.

    2. ACcc

      Re: Backups...

      I got round the sync location issue feature by creating symlinks in the OneDrive directory to the required locations (e.g. the OH's Desktop where all the files actually resided rather than a directory structure under documents...).

      This was on W7, so YMMV

      EDIT: beaten to it..

    3. Lexeus

      Re: Backups...

      I trialed it an decided a long time ago that I would rather have a manually executed cloud backup that may be a little less uptodate but I know has been completed correctly, than a auto backup that who knows what state it is in when the S#!T hits the fan and you go to recover what turns out to be a backup that stopped running months ago because you didn't update the client...

      1. Richocet Bronze badge

        Re: Backups...

        E.g. verify your backups even though it doubles the time taken.

        I do this after discovering a backup I need to access was corrupted. There is no point going to the effort, cost and time of backing up if it's not usable on that rare occasion that you need it.

        If you're interested, it wasn't because the media was corrupted, something had gone wrong in the software that created the backup.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Backups...

      I think Google still wins with the ability to select random folders from your computer to be backed up, whereas OneDrive still requires the files to reside within the OneDrive folder.

      Yes. The IT geniuses at my organization just announced that OneDrive is "our backup solution". As far as I can see (I installed the client and played around with it, and read various pieces of documentation, such as they are, from Microsoft and others) it's useless for that purpose.

      * It doesn't support the existing filesystem hierarchy. This business of "awkwardly-selected parts of the tree under one directory that must be in this particular place" is garbage. Particularly for our newer laptops that have a relatively small SSD as the first drive and a conventional drive of decent size as the second, where OneDrive will only sync to and from the small drive.

      * It can "back up" any of three additional trees, but they're hard-coded by Microsoft (Documents, Photos, and Music, if memory serves). What braindead moron specified that feature?

      * You can't exclude files by extension, unless you're an administrator configuring OneDrive for Business site-wide. That alone makes it unsuitable for backing up developer systems.

      * Bidirectional sync is automatic. That makes it unsuitable for backing up files that are also under revision control. Developers need a backup mechanism that does automatic backup, but puts restore under the user's control.

      * There was a note in one of the docs about it not backing up certain file types, including some of the Outlook local-storage files. If that's true, it's unsuitable as a backup mechanism. Outlook's (grotesquely bloated and inefficient) local storage is my main backup requirement, since source-code changes and the like get pushed to revision-control systems frequently.

      * It only allows file and directory filesystem objects in the synced tree. Junctions and the like cause it to refuse to back up the entire tree. It's like the client was written by incompetent morons.

      * Some of the management functions in the client mysteriously dumped me into Sharepoint 365 (a cesspit of another order) with no explanation.

      In brief, it's utter shit, and nothing at all like a backup mechanism. No competent IT person should mistake it for one.

  4. Nate Amsden

    google is "unlimited"

    (I don't use any cloud storage services, I have had a 1U server at a colo for the past 13 years(though technically I have 1/3rd of the cabinet I think I just get 1 network drop and 1 power outlet with 200 watts but I can/have hooked up a PDU to get more outlets), before that I hosted stuff at home on my DSL with 8 static IPs and before that I was a system admin for a tiny ISP that had a T1 and hosted my stuff there(before the year 2000)).

    I keep reading in various places how Google has "unlimited" storage with their google drive. I think you have to pay a bit more (though I think it is under $20/mo) but have read people claiming they have uploaded over 100TB without an issue(I think I saw one claim of over 400TB). The catch is it seems to be unofficial and google could clamp down at any time but so far in some(many? most?) cases at least they have not. I have read there are limits for API requests, and limits on uploads per day I want to say in the 10s of GBs per day is the limit(or maybe it was 750GB too lazy to try to check). Also there are fears around google inspecting the data and flagging for piracy and other things, in many cases people encrypt the data before sending it).

    I have also read claims that some educational(perhaps many) institutions give students unlimited google drive as well.

    I've also seen really stupid people trying to sell access to their "free" google drive account trying to make a few pennies on the side.

    For 99% of people this would seem crazy(myself included), but there are those folks out there that have hundreds of megs or gig or more of upstream bandwidth(lucky them I guess) and abuse this service like crazy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: google is "unlimited"

      I want to comment on this, but the first rule of hoarding club :-)

    2. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: google is "unlimited"

      "I keep reading in various places how Google has "unlimited" storage with their google drive. [...] The catch is it seems to be unofficial...

      According to G Suite Pricing Plans, the Business Suite contains "unlimited storage and archiving" - as long as you buy at least 5 seats.

      I guess Google Drive will NOT be unlimited if some genious decides to test this and stream /dev/random for long enough. (random just to make sure it won't de-dup)

      1. Nate Amsden

        Re: google is "unlimited"

        They probably won't get very far since /dev/random will run out of entropy pretty quick :) (but I get your point)

    3. Fungus Bob Silver badge

      Re: google is "unlimited"

      We all know the only thing that has ever been truly unlimited was the top end of the one cop car in 'Dirty Mary Crazy Larry'...

    4. Diogenes

      Re: google is "unlimited"

      I have also read claims that some educational(perhaps many) institutions give students unlimited google drive as well.

      It always amuses me to look a my t work google drive & see that I still have exabyte of storage remaining.

  5. TReko

    A Fake Vault

    The "vault" feature is just an extra layer of security to access the file. The files are still not end-to-end encrypted. Microsoft can still access your files, should they wish. For real encryption, encrypt at the source using Truecrypt or a automated cloud drive encryptor like SyncDocs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A Fake Vault

      The “extra layer of security” aka Personal Vault is being rolled out exclusively in the 5 EYES countries...

      Why did I get a sudden chill? Must be getting suspicious in my old age... or wisdom.

  6. NeilPost Bronze badge

    The ability to mount OneDeive as a drive or NAS backup is crying out too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      One word, rclone

  7. doublelayer Silver badge

    Easy option

    Storage providers should really start looking at the $price per gigabyte or multiple thereof option. At that rate, customers who want lots of data can do that, and the company gets paid. They could do the tiny price for a small amount of storage (E.G. $0.012/GB) version or the larger unit version ($1.20/100 GB), and users would simply buy a bunch of data not having done the maths as to how much it costs. This method would seem to give lots of options for making money as well as keeping customers satisfied. I wonder why few major storage providers do it that way.

    1. localzuk Silver badge

      Re: Easy option

      You're describing Azure Blob Storage.

      I think this is what Microsoft were thinking to be honest - if you need enormous amounts of space then your usage is probably business related, so use Azure. The average home user doesn't upload piles of 4k videos. So, the market they forgot about was SME and pro-sumers really.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unlimited!!

    My pet hate.

    Way back when, I used Pipex for an ISP. They were the only one that advertised "Unlimited" bandwidth, I used to hammer the torrent sites so would frequently be transferring lots and lots of files. Every six months or so, I would get an email from Pipex saying I was exceeding their fair use policy, I replied with a link to the OED entry for unlimited and told them to get their lawyers to read up on it. Never heard back, not once, and never got cut off either.

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Unlimited!!

      "I used to hammer the torrent sites so would frequently be transferring lots and lots of files."

      You were just testing a lot of Linux distros, right?

  9. largefile

    It's not the size it's the speed I have a problem with.

    Sure, I'd happily pay for 2TB of space but I'd rather pay for unthrottled upload and download. I'm getting over 900mbps up and 900mbps down pretty reliably from my home fiber connection yet I'm lucky to get 30 or 40mbps throughput when accessing any of these cloud storage services...often considerably less.

    Someone needs to make a One Drive Pro and offer unthrottled connections. I want to just have a hard drive in the sky I can access at the full speed of my internet connection.

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