A couple months ago, Microsoft began providing substantially more capacity for OneDrive users. Now, it's also removing the arbitrary 2 GB file size restriction to help you fill that space up faster.
When Microsoft raised the free OneDrive account capacity to 15 GB, and the Office 365 OneDrive storage to 1 TB, I wrote that — for all intents and purposes — it was like having unlimited cloud storage. At the time, Microsoft revealed that its own research suggests that 75% of users have less than 15 GB of personal files, so 1 TB is virtually limitless.
Of course, if you start uploading HD movies at 3 GB or 4 GB a pop, that 15 GB starts looking a little anemic. It is easy to see why Microsoft has an incentive to remove the traditional 2 GB file limit. On the one hand, it fosters a better customer experience, because it can be very frustrating when you want to upload or sync a file and you're blocked by an arbitrary limit. On the other hand, there's also some motivation there for Microsoft to enable users to consume as much data as possible, so they exceed that free 15 GB account and become paying OneDrive customers — or perhaps even Office 365 customers.
To be fair, the 2 GB limit was not entirely arbitrary. It most likely has roots in old 32-bit code, which was incapable of addressing larger file sizes. Omar Shahine, a Microsoft group program manager, explained in a recent comment on the OneDrive UserVoice forums, "It's simply an old limit that we've been working on removing for far too long now. The good news is that we are actively working on this."
That is very good news. As the original commenter mentioned in the UserVoice forums, there are a variety of file types other than HD movies that can exceed that 2 GB size: CAD files, digital art, family videos, and more. The exact file types, however, are not important. What is important is that a OneDrive customer should be able to upload and sync all of their files and data, regardless of size. As long as there's a file size limit, the service is hobbled to some extent for many users.
Over the past few days, some users have noticed that the 2 GB file size restriction seems to have disappeared. I reached out to Microsoft, and a spokesperson confirmed the change. ""As we mentioned on our UserVoice, we have started the work to increase the file size limit for all OneDrive consumer accounts. We have started the process with a small number of customers and will continue to roll it out to our full customer base. We will have more to share on this update in the near future, so stay tuned to the OneDrive blog."
For now, at least, it's a bit of a crap shoot. You might be one of the lucky few with the new "sky is the limit" file size capability, or you might still have the 2 GB restriction in place. The good news is that all OneDrive customers can expect to see that limitation removed in the near future, so you can start storing all of those HD movies in the cloud... and become a paying OneDrive customer, because large files will max out that free 15 GB of storage really fast.
Tony Bradley is a principal analyst with Bradley Strategy Group. He is a respected authority on technology, and information security. He writes regularly for Forbes, and PCWorld, and contributes to a wide variety of online and print media outlets. He has authored or co-authored a number of books, including Unified Communications for Dummies, Essential Computer Security, and PCI Compliance.