Microsoft forced to backtrack on OneDrive storage change after user backlash

OneDrive logo on a smartphone in front of stationary
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Microsoft has listened to OneDrive users after a proposed change to how its cloud storage service counted photos provoked a backlash.

As Neowin explains, earlier this year Microsoft emailed OneDrive users telling them that “Soon, data from photos saved in your Gallery and in your albums will each count separately against your total Microsoft storage quota,” and said that this change will roll out to users beginning on October 16.

To say this upcoming change was unpopular would be a bit of an understatement. It meant that if you uploaded a photo and placed it in an album, such as ‘Holiday photos’, OneDrive would deduct the file size from your storage allowance twice – once for the default Gallery upload, which is where all photos synced with OneDrive go, and then again for the album you put the image in. Presumably, if you were to put the image in several different albums, this would then reduce your online storage space further.

For people with large photo collections, this could have a massive impact, potentially wiping out their storage allowance. To make matters worse, Microsoft recently changed how its free Outlook email service counts email attachments and inline images against your OneDrive storage quota.

With those two tweaks, many people may have found they had run out of OneDrive space. As Microsoft explained in the email to users, “if you are over your storage limit, you will not be able to save new files to OneDrive, sync files to OneDrive, and send or receive emails in”

Backtracking after a backlash

Seemingly anticipating that this move wouldn’t go down too well (its earlier changes to’s storage quota weren’t exactly popular), Microsoft offered a “one-time storage bonus that will take effect when the data change is applied to your account.” This would last for one year, and would mean that at least your emails would continue to work.

That wasn’t enough to placate users though, and it looks like there has been enough of an outcry over these proposed changes to make Microsoft cancel those plans, writing on its website that “Based on the feedback we received, we have adjusted our approach, we will no longer roll out this update. We will maintain the current photo album experience, as it is today.”

It’s not too surprising that the proposed changes were unpopular – counting a photo multiple times if it’s placed in an album seems unfair, especially compared to other online storage services. Couple that with the recent change to how email attachments are also counted against your OneDrive quota, and how your email account will cease to work if you go over your quota, and you have a recipe for discontent.

It’s to Microsoft’s credit that it has listened to its users and cancelled its plans. Being willing to drop unpopular changes is something I’d like to see a lot more companies do, and while I appreciate that Microsoft needs to ensure that its OneDrive service is financially viable, it also needs to make sure it doesn’t limit it so that customers no longer find it useful.

At the moment, I find OneDrive to be the best cloud storage solution for my needs, due to its integration in Windows 11, and the fact that I get a generous 1TB of storage included in my Microsoft 365 subscription. I wouldn’t have been too happy if that storage was effectively halved for my photos if this change had gone ahead.

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Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.