Microsoft stumps loyal fans by making OneDrive handle Outlook attachments
Which means you may suddenly hit a 5GB limit rather than 15GB
Some users of Microsoft's free Outlook hosted service are finding they can no longer send or receive emails because of how the Windows giant now calculates the storage of attachments.
Microsoft account holders are allowed to hold up to 15GB in their cloud-hosted email, which until recently included text and attachments, and 5GB in their OneDrive storage. That policy changed February 1. Since then, attachments now count as part of the 5GB OneDrive allowance – and if that amount is exceeded, it throws a wrench into the email service.
It doesn't change the storage amount available in Outlook.com, but could in OneDrive.
"This update may reduce how much cloud storage you have available to use with your OneDrive," Microsoft wrote in a support note posted before the change. "If you reach your cloud storage quota, your ability to send and receive emails in Outlook.com will be disrupted."
Redmond added that the plan was to gradually roll out the cloud storage changes and new quota bar starting February 1 across users' app and Windows settings and Microsoft accounts. Two months later, that gradual rollout is beginning to hit more and more users.
One reader told The Register that his Outlook recently stopped working and indicated that he had surpassed the 5GB storage limit, reaching 6.1GB. He was unaware of the policy change, so he was confused when he saw that in his email account he had used only 6.8GB of the 15GB allowed.
It was the change in how attachments are added that tripped him up. Microsoft told him about the new policy.
No one deletes attachments every time an email is received. This is like blackmail
"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)," the reader told us.
"No one deletes attachments every time an email is received. This is like blackmail. MS is forcing us to buy a subscription by the back door or to have to delete emails with attachments on a regular basis ad infinitum."
He isn't the only one perplexed by the issue. One user on a chat thread with the support team called the issue "very disappointing." The netizen, who also uses Microsoft tools at work, has had a personal account for more than 10 years and warned that the mega-corporation was risking turning away a lot of people, particularly those who have used Microsoft email for a long time.
They also were confused by the 15GB limit for email still being in place, adding that it is "really laughable for people using your hosted email solution from way back.
"Gmail has a 15GB limit, so seems like a better free option than Microsoft."
The Register contacted Microsoft with some questions. We'll update the story if a response comes in.
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A number of people said the situation was confusing. One who apparently was unaware that it was the attachments shifting over to OneDrive causing the email problems deleted a lot of emails, only to find it didn't change the "storage used" amount.
Others said on Reddit they were also caught unaware. One said that as soon as the policy went through, their OneDrive storage limit was exceeded by 36GB.
Another Redditor said those that are running into an Outlook email service that suddenly doesn't work have to go into their OneDrive account and start deleting the attachments.
"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.
That said, not everyone on Reddit was upset. One user said 5GB for free storage felt "pretty reasonable" and added that "most people won't even come close to that 5GB limit."
"Maybe delete some things?" another wrote. "Digital hoarding is so baffling to me."
As a heads-up, Microsoft said in the same advisory about the February 1 change that starting November 30, "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 Outlook.com mailbox."
Those with a personalized email address in Outlook.com will be able to keep it after that time and use it without a disruption, but if they remove the address from the Outlook account after that date, they won't be able to get it back.
They will have to switch over to a Microsoft 365 subscription, where they will get – among other benefits – 50GB of email storage.
Forewarned is forearmed... or rather it should be. ®