Dropbox limits ‘all the storage you need’ unlimited plan, blames abusive users

One percent of customers store more than 35TB. And before you ask: Yes, you can blame crypto creeps for this

Dropbox has decided it's time to limit its unlimited Advanced plan. Rather than giving people “as much space as needed,” as it did previously, now users are capped, starting at 15TB.

The cloud storage locker and enterprise productivity aspirant explained the reason for the change in a missive that revealed some rather creative abuse of the service, including cryptocurrency mining, resale of Dropbox storage to third parties, and “unrelated individuals pooling storage for personal use cases.”

“In recent months, we’ve seen a surge of this behavior,” Team Dropbox explained. “We’ve observed that customers like these frequently consume thousands of times more storage than our genuine business customers.”

The advisory reveals that just one percent of Dropbox customers consume over 35 terabytes per license. As Dropbox’s price list tells us that the Advanced plan costs $24/user/month, with a minimum of three users, it’s been possible to store 35TB or much, much, more for $72 a month.

Dropbox mostly uses its own storage, though maintains a presence in Amazon Web Services. Speaking of the Amazonian cloud, its Simple Storage Service charges $0.023/GB/month for the first 50TB you shove into the Amazonian cloud or $805 a month to store 35TB (remembering that storage capacity is measured to the tenth power, so 1TB equals 1000GB, but 1GB of RAM is 1024MB). Dropbox’s in-house storage would have to be vastly more efficient that Amazon’s for it to turn a profit on the customers it feels abuse its generosity.

Interestingly, Dropbox’s alert reveals the company saw more of this abusive behavior after other cloud storage services ditched their unlimited tiers; Google did so for educational institutions using its Workspaces service in October 2022 and has since apparently done for other business customers, too, we note.

Dropbox justifies the change on grounds that it allowed “as much storage as needed to run a legitimate business or organization, not to provide unlimited storage for any use case.” Impact on other customers was also cited as a reason for the change.

Another reason is that Dropbox decided that defining “acceptable” and “unacceptable” use cases for many customers was not sustainable. Ending the unlimited offer was simply easier.

Dropbox will replace the all-you-can-eat offer with metered plans that allocate 15TB to customers of the Advanced plan. Each additional active license beyond the three required to qualify for the plan gets another 5TB.

"Starting today, customers who purchase a Dropbox Advanced plan with three active licenses will receive 15TB of storage space shared by the team — enough space to store about 100 million documents, 4 million photos or 7500 hours of HD video," the biz claimed. "Each additional active license will receive 5TB of storage."

Current customers using less than 35TB of storage per license won’t be asked to change for five years without paying more and get a bonus 5TB to share among their users.

Those using over 35TB be allowed to keep using their current capacity, and an additional 5TB credit of pooled storage for one year (up to 1,000TB total), at no additional charge. But Dropbox has also foreshadowed those big users will soon be asked for a chat “to discuss a range of options for getting the storage that you need for your business or organization.”

“We will begin gradually migrating existing customers to the new policy on November 1,” the team states, adding: “You don't need to do anything today. We’ll notify all customers at least 30 days prior to their planned migration date.”

Customers that decide to quit Dropbox as a result of these changes are going to have an interesting time, as the cloud locker limits downloads to 4 TB of bandwidth and unlimited file downloads per day. Users with over 35TB of data stored in the service could be in for some decent waits if they need to retrieve files. ®

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