How much free cloud storage space do you really need? — SkyDrive’s 7 gig free plan examined

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Do you have a free Dropbox or other cloud storage account? If so, how much of your free space do you actually use? According to the guys at Microsoft Skydrive, 99.94% of users who have had access to 25 gigs of free space only ACTUALLY use up to 7 gigs of it, and less than 1% of users (about 6 in 1000) went above this (see chart above).

Which is why the newly re-launched Skydrive, now with desktop sync a-la-Dropbox, comes in with a free storage plan of 7 gigs rather than the original 25 gigs of free space (legacy accounts will maintain the original 25 gigs).

Moreover, the new Skydrive does not come with a friend referral plan to enlarge your free storage.

Did the Skydrive team make a mistake? This post will argue for and against.

SkyDrive storage usage chart

But first, how much cloud space storage does one really need?

On this, the answer does seem to be 7 gigs or under. Why argue with the data? I have 3 Dropbox accounts with the max 16 free gigs each (strangely I have 19.75 on one of them). How much do I actually use? Less than 4 gigs, which includes a couple of large .ISO files that take up most of the space (see screenshot to the right).


Here’s why Skydrive’s 7 gig free storage is a mistake.

  1. It’s a NUMBER that most users understand and will use to compare with other cloud services: tell someone that they get 2 free anything rather than just 1, and they will prefer the larger number. It is FREE, after all, so the bigger the better. (And though 7 gig is on the larger side, many cloud storage services offer larger amounts). If I recall correctly, SkyDrive’s free 25 gigs is the reason I signed up with the service in the first place, way back when.
  2. Nobody likes to be punished: many users expect that Skydrive offers 25 gigs; to find out that it has been reduced may turn users off it altogether. At least those in the know. Although if you have a Hotmail or MSN login there may be a way to STILL get the 25 gigs, see this link and  this LifeHacker article.
  3. No referral option: means that users will not have a personal stake in . Believe me, once I’d worked all of my contacts (real and invented) to enlarge my Dropbox storage to the max 18 gig possible for free, Dropbox is never going to be uninstalled from my machine.

Here’s why Skydrive’s 7 gig free storage may not be a mistake after all.

  1. Microsoft will bundle Skydrive with Windows 8: which is to say, they don’t necessarily need people to sign up voluntarily, they don’t need you to invite your friends. It pays to have the most popular operating system in the universe, and Skydrive will also be integrated to other MS products, such as Office, OneNote, etc.
  2. 7 Gigs is huge: at the end of the day, it’s a lot larger than the starting point of most free cloud storage services, including Dropbox’s 2 gigs.
  3. Extra Skydrive storage is relatively cheap: add 20 GB for $10 a year.

What they should have done:

In my opinion, they should institute a referral system that would hike you up to, say, 30 gigs (importantly- higher than the original 25 gigs) at 1 GIG increments. After all, those who would do this are self selecting geeks that are extremely unlikely to pay for storage increases anyway, and it probably pays to have the geeks using your service.

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