Give us back our storage (OneDrive / Office 365)

This is a post in response to official blog post "OneDrive storage plans change in pursuit of productivity and collaboration" that should be titled "OneDrive going back in time couple of years" - link: https://blog.onedrive.com/onedrive_changes/

I wrote this as a comment on official OneDrive Uservoice forum, but due to 5000 character limit I had to split it, here are my thoughts in one piece, nothing else changed. Link to uservoice "
Give us back our storage" is here: https://onedrive.uservoice.com/forums/262982-onedrive/suggestions/10524099-give-us-back-our-storage

You can view my earlier OneDrive related post here: http://itflame.blogspot.hr/2014/11/please-improve-onedrive.html

My comment:

I've got a "word or two" to say about this as well. I became Office365 user just because of this. I payed a year of Home subscription, even though I used only one OneDrive, and had Office running on just 2 computers (and even that barely opening a file or two every once in a while, all of which I could have done with free office suites, nothing special). I've used nothing else from the package, basically paying a nice Home subscription for a year just to get the OneDrive storage. I've been looking at cloud storage for a while but the "unlimited" annoncement finally made me pull the trigger.

Than it took me 3 months to upload ~4-5TB of files. Those weren't BluRay rips or music, or whatever, I've uploaded home made videos recorded with my HD camcorder. Why it took me 3 months? Well, even though I had 100/100 optical connection at my disposal I couldn't upload more than 8Mbps in one browser, and I did not want to use desktop client as it too sucked a lot at a time. So I was juggling with 3-4 browser windows to get my peak speeds to around 30Mbps, but there was another thing holding it all back. Almost 50% of files had to be re-uploaded, as they'd just throw an error after 100% was reached (both a 1kb files and 1GB files alike). But ok, I've finally uploaded my precious videos after several months of everyday WORK (yes, work, as I had to babysit each and every file).

Than a time of a bit more peace came, and I even switched my Phone Camera uploads from Dropbox to OneDrive. That too had issues with failed uploads 50% of the time, but after a while Microsoft did something and I was finally reasonably satisfied with the service. That was roughly this summer. But there were still issues - Microsoft to this day did not start to support large files (ok, it's better now , but still not enough), they still don't support deduplication on neither server nor client side, they don't support the delta backups (differential backups), and many more such larger or smaller issues. Of the issues I follow only 4-5 were fixed in those 12 months, and dozens are still lingering. Just see the more or less complete list here on Uservoice post I made a while ago: https://onedrive.uservoice.com/forums/262982-onedrive/suggestions/6682208-onedrive-general-suggestions-for-improvement

In the meantime I bought a tablet and got a free Personal for a year. I waited, and on November 1st my Home subscription expired, and I've extended it with this Personal. I had some issues going from Personal to Home so I left it for next weekend when I'll have more time, and besides - like I wrote above - I wasn't using other 4 seats anyway, so I was in no hurry. That "Home" was more of a thing that would allow me using Office apps on phone, tablet, old laptop and my primary desktop all at once. Not that I need that really, as read-only is fine on all but my desktop, and again - even on desktop I barely use office apps to do anything most of the time.

And today - I'm HAPPY! Happy that I did not upgrade to Home, as this blog news ( direct link: https://blog.onedrive.com/onedrive_changes/ ) just cut the usability of this service to zero for me.

The most important thing is - I was a very pro-Microsoft user. I like Microsoft products and ecosystem in general, and always advise people to go that route for their needs. Likewise I was recommending OneDrive / Office365 everywhere I went. and being in IT, my vote usually carried weight with friends and family, colleagues and such. But no more... if Microsoft does this downgrade, going back literally 2-3 years in time and offering service with these limits, and these shortcomings (see link above), not only that I won't recommend Office365 & OneDrive (obviously), but I'll simply HAVE to recommend competition (eg. Box still offers me 50GB free, and Dropbox is simply a better solution, Google Drive is readily accessible to everyone as well, and so on). But I'm sure it won't stop there. Microsoft was on the edge of getting me and and whole my family and many friends to go completely in their ecosystem direction.... yet now this turns the table completely. I can have all I really need with competitor's solutions. And I'm sure my company can have pretty much the same, thanks God we did not forgo our Office 2003/2007 licences for the Office365 "upgrade" (ahem?) in the Win10 upgrade scheme.

Altogether, I'm so disappointed with Microsoft's decision to go this route that I can't explain it enough. While I was hoping that one day all my files will be on OneDrive, and that it becomes a central piece of my data solution (only differential backups were lacking for that happen even earlier), now I have to go look for another company and another solution. In process, I'm glad that Dropbox is getting integration in Microsoft's own tools, it will make the transition easier, and I'm sure others will follow suite as well, specially once users start to leave OneDrive in droves. And instead of keeping my ~5TB files on a Home subscription, you'll get no more money from me. Luckily Windows 10 will keep having free upgrades (though I'm not so sure Microsoft won't go back on that decision like they just did with "unlimited" OneDrive), and I won't have to spend any money on their products. And sure as hell I'm giving up on ever again recommending Office 365 for business / enterprise use of any kind, as some day this could happen again, and again.. Keeping old Office 2003 / 2007 will do just fine for 99% of what people do with these files anyway... And in time free tools (both online and on premise) keep getting better, and I'd rather go to LibreOffice on PC, and King Office on Android, than pay for another year of MS subscriptions, specially not on a large scale business. LibreOffice already proved a good enough solution for ~100 computers in smaller offices, those that need more never needed more than old Office 2003 which will last forever, and many will be fine even with read-only access from "universal" apps.

I can't underline and flag this in any way, but Microsoft was on a sure way to switching it's monopoly from on-premise Office to cloud solutions like Office365+OneDrive, but this will set them back so much that in the long run they'll be overrun by competition.

Well, anyway, rant is mostly over, thanks for nothing Microsoft, beta-testing your OneDrive was no fun, and I'm not exactly sad to leave... I'm just sad I spent so much time uploading all my files, and all for nothing... was supposed to be worth it if files stayed there "forever" but obviously - NOT.


Lux said...

Perhaps a good alternative for European customers in need of up to 10TB of cloud storage for just 50€ a year:

Lux said...

Regarding some info said in thurrott.com podcast here:

My comment:
Just one question... so if 99,9% of users actually only use 5GB or less already - what's the issue having everyone have unlimited storage than (or 15+15GB for free users). People aren't using it, so why do the cut than? I know how server-side storage works, you don't say "ok I've got 1 million users, and each has 1TB quota, so I'll buy 1 million times 1TB in HDD space, and than do the redundancy, so that's at least x2, and than put it in 2-3 geo locations, so that's x3 again, so in total I've got to buy 6 million 1TB HDDs". It's not working like that... you simply buy some initial amount of infrastructure, and when it nears let's say 80% treshold you buy another batch. In small(er) systems you'd actually probably wait till you are near 95% and than add some HDDs, yet in large data centers they do actually have software that makes predictions based on current and past usage and user behavior, so they can plan weeks or months ahead. So again, if you've got 1 million users paying 70$ per year, and they all use 5GB each, that's just 5000 TB, or if you replicate/duplicate/etc it's 30.000TB. Still, that's 70 million dollars. HDDs alone costs probably 3 million, servers, bandwidth, cooling, etc, let's say all in all for that amount of storage it's 10x more, so let's 30 million dollars. So they've got a healthy profit. And next year, those that use 5GB will still use 5GB, or 6GB, and they won't buy another 30.000.000$ worth of equipment, yet will get another yearly subscription of 70 million. So what's the issue? If they said that 90% of people went over 1TB than I'd understand, but 99,9% at roughly 5GB, that's not an issue. Shouldn't be an issue, not for a company that is cloud storage provider, Azure provider, and has multiple data centers around the world anyway. Also, not to forget, there ARE many technological solutions to lessen the load. First and foremost is de-duplication on a global scale. If I upload my 50TB archive of MP3s - won't that also include most of MP3s ever released anywhere by anyone? So they've got to store it only once - ever! Same with ISO images, if I store it, you store it, another million of W10 users - they all store it. How much space it uses? Exactly same as just one original ISO image! OK, and a million of pointers, but that should be in range of few MB really (for all million copies of that same file) as a part of database or file system, so I'll disregard it. Another example is making a PC backup on their service. If I backup my 5 devices, each with an OS, how much is that? And if million people backup their 5 million devices, how much data is that? Not as much as you all think. Block-level de-duplication and file-level de-duplication would recognize that in those 5 million backup images there are 1 million of Windows 10 backups, and 3 million of Window 7 backups, and 1 million of Windows 8/8.1 backups. And while there are many different versions and variations, believe it or not it is a finite number. So simply take all Windows versions, and all of their system file subversions due to patches and languages, and you'll end at something that's certainly under 1TB of data. For all Windows. Ever. So ok, all system backups of all people ever using computers in the world, that's not petabytes and exabytes of data, that's 1TB in total, and some smart management software.

Lux said...

I'm not forgetting user files from those backups, but guess what - if I've already uploaded all my photos, videos, documents, and even mp3s and such on OneDrive, and than I backup my PC - that's still same photos, videos and documents! You'll have few versions of some files, as eg. documents change. But photos usually don't change, or change once (when you edit them, and I sure doubt many people do that more than once.. or even if that). So in theory if I have 10TB of all my data combined, and than I copy it all and backup it all twice each week, after a year it's maybe 11TB. But also, if I've share all of those 10TB with the world, and all Windows users copy my data and replicate it to their OneDrives, or their HDDs, and than backup their HDDs later on (even after a year) to OneDrive - it's still same 10TB of data. And this is not science fiction, you can buy such software, smart and ready to go. Not that Microsoft doesn't have it already, they aren't a startup, they've got huge database and file storage portfolio, from MS SQL servers, Share Point, backup services, and all kinds of smart management software. So - I can't believe it they are still trying to pass this as an issue!Even computing isn't much of an issue, you can compute hash or any kind of "data signature" on client side, exchange that with server, and upload only if server doesn't know the signature yet. Yes, that exists already as well, called delta-sync (or differential backup / differential sync / or whatever). And not only does it save storage and computing power to calculate the hashes or "signatures" of such data blocks, but it also saves bandwidth - for both customers (users) and Microsoft as provider. More so, people asked for that for a while - but OneDrive still doesn't support it (while a much smaller outfit as Dropbox - does). So instead of graphics designer re-uploading 600MB file each time they add a single new pixel to some PhotoShop file they're working on, it would upload just few bytes of difference (ok, let's say 100kb block or whatever was the setting). Instead of re-uploading a whole VHD that has virtual machine on it, it would just upload a few MB of differences that occurred between turning the Hyper-V on, and turning it off. Microsoft knows how to do it, just not using it. So anyway, instead of a multi-billion dollar corporation blaming it on several "75TB abusers" - why not blame it on themselves and their laziness instead. Don't tell me about being it economically not sustainable. If economy was issue, than there can be a 10TB tier for 1000$ per year, or more, whatever IS sustainable. But they know that it's all smoke and mirrors, and hopefully sh*tstorm will pass. Well, I hope it goes back to their head like a boomerang and hits them right in the forehead. As they are lazy to fix their own system, they'll probably be too lazy to duck when all the sh*t returns to them. Any comments on that? Or can anyone get a comment on THIS from Microsoft? Thanks ;)

Lux said...

One more comment regarding some more info, this time about Redstone (future Windows 10 update in 2016) talked about in another podcast here:

My comment:
At around 32-33min Brad switches to talking about Redstone, and in particular mentions the "continuity" of apps and so on. And let's face it - we all know it's gonna be tied to OneDrive same as current roaming data is. And yet they say OneDrive isn't driving use of new features? I mean, do they know their own ecosystem? OneDrive syncs all my important data between my different PCs. THAT is the main usage of OneDrive, and THAT is the main reason why "unlimited" was such a great deal (even if you weren't using more than 1-2TB). But you DO WANT to have ALL of your data there, because it opens up so many scenarios. Those can't all be done in a year, it takes time for people to explore and adjust their workflow and other general usage scenarios like media consumption and so on. But having it ALL on OneDrive allowed my future self to simply throw away my PC/laptop/tablet same way as we all currently (pretty much) do with smartphones. Most of the data is online, so we just buy a new phone and continue working. We could do that with laptops and desktop PCs as well - if we had OneDrive "unlimited" subscriptions. And now Microsoft wants to work on "continuity" in Redstone, but at the same time they are pulling the plug on the glue that holds it all together. My "camera roll", my "Xbox recordings", my "game saves", my "roaming profile" (wallpapers and such), my "Cortana notebook"... it's all tied to OneDrive somewhere along the way. And I want to add my documents and my home videos to that, and I want to upload my music collection to it as Music/Groove apps now allow me to listen music from my OneDrive anywhere I login. Likewise, Video app (will?) allow me to watch my home videos (actually any videos) from my OneDrive as well. So what's the point of allowing me to use the cloud from Microsoft Office, Groove, Video, Edge, Cortana, and even the Windows system itself (roaming profile), and so on - if you're cutting down usage and limiting free users to 5GB (I can fill that in 20 minutes of recording 4k videos and/or taking 20 Mpix photos with my future Lumia 950/950XL phone) and cutting PAYING customers to 1TB with ABSOLUTELY NO WAY TO GO BEYOND THAT. Don't they realize that disabling OneDrive will make it less interesting to use Windows 10 as a whole, making it just yet another coat of paint on the Windows 7/8? How to have a CLOUD FIRST OPERATING SYSTEM - without a proper CLOUD STORAGE support???!?! I'm baffled.

Donald Steadman said...

It's like they suck you in with promises of as much space as you need, so you set up your backups and your routines to use that service -- and then they tell you that you can't have that. Better to spread your files around even if it is less convenient to not have them all in one place.

Donald Steadman @ Office PCS