Microsoft Outlook users have a lot less space for attachments now

Microsoft Outlook logo on blue background
(Image credit: Microsoft)

It seems that more and more users of the free version of Microsoft Outlook are being caught out by a devious amendment to how storage works within the email provider.

Since February 1, the Redmond giant has been rolling out a change to where attachments in emails are stored for free users - they are now being stored within the company's cloud storage service OneDrive, which has a much smaller free allowance of 5GB capacity, as compared to the free 15GB allowance of Outlook. 

The upshot is that many users are now having their emails disrupted, as they are unable to send or receive new emails due to their backlog of attachments suddenly exceeding capacity due to this storage migration. 

Caught unaware

Needless to say, it has left many free users baffled and confused at the change, feeling that not only is it unfair, but that they were not even made aware that the change was coming their way.

One reader told The Register that they couldn't use Outlook as a result of suddenly exceeding the new shortened storage limit. He was not aware of the change, and couldn't see how he had gone over when Outlook was showing him that he had only used 6.1GB of the email's 15GB capacity. He contacted Microsoft and it explained the situation. 

"So instantly, I have lost 10GB of email capacity and because my attachments were greater than 5GB that instantly disabled my email and triggered bounce-backs (even sending and receiving with no attachments)," he told the publication.

He went further to compare the policy change to "blackmail", by "forcing [users] to buy a subscription by the back door or to have to delete emails with attachments on a regular basis ad infinitum."

Another user commented on the Microsoft forum, saying that they had been a user for over a decade and were disappointed at the decision. They also cautioned that the company risked turning people away from its services, since rivals, such as Google's Gmail, now effectively offer more capacity for free.

Some took to Reddit to vent their frustrations, with one user saying that their OneDrive limit suddenly exceeded 36GB after the change was made, whilst another explained the problems you may face if you have to delete files from OneDrive but have forgotten your password for it:

"Hopefully you know your OneDrive password, because if you need to reset it or access files in a private OneDrive folder under this email account you can't receive the reset email," they wrote.

Microsoft did make an announcement in a post on its support page before February 1 that the change was coming, but it seems it wasn't enough to make a lot of users aware that their attachment storage capacity will now be much less. 

In that same announcement, the company also said that "Microsoft 365 Personal or Microsoft 365 Family subscribers will no longer be able to create a new email address for any personalized domain associated with their mailbox."

This change began rolling out to users from November 30, and those with personalized email addresses in already will be able to continue to use it, but now, if they remove it from Outlook, they can no longer retrieve it.

To do so, they will have to become a paying subscriber to Microsoft 365, which also includes an much larger 50GB of email storage.

Lewis Maddison
Reviews Writer

Lewis Maddison is a Reviews Writer for TechRadar. He previously worked as a Staff Writer for our business section, TechRadar Pro, where he had experience with productivity-enhancing hardware, ranging from keyboards to standing desks. His area of expertise lies in computer peripherals and audio hardware, having spent over a decade exploring the murky depths of both PC building and music production. He also revels in picking up on the finest details and niggles that ultimately make a big difference to the user experience.