Amazon Drive Ends Unlimited Free Cloud Storage Plan

Amazon on Thursday ended its policy of providing free unlimited cloud storage via Amazon Drive, opting instead to give its consumer and business users a smaller amount of free capacity in the Amazon cloud and charging for capacity beyond that.

Amazon Drive is a service that allows users to store photos, videos, and documents in the Amazon cloud. It provides secure and private access to those items on any connected devices or Web browsers.

Amazon Drive had let users store unlimited data and unlimited photos in its cloud. However, according to an Amazon FAQ, users will now be limited to 5 GBs of free cloud storage capacity.

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Starting Thursday, customers will be charged $11.99 for between 5 GBs and 100 GBs, and $59.99 for up to 1 TB of capacity. Customers requiring over 1 TB will pay an additional $59.99 per TB up to 30 TBs, Amazon said.

Amazon Prime members will also be limited to 5 GBs of free cloud storage capacity, but capacity required for storing photos will not count against that limit, essentially allowing them to store an unlimited amount of photos in the Amazon Cloud.

"Amazon’s unlimited cloud storage plan was absurdly cheap compared to the market," said David Lucky, director of product management at Datapipe, a Jersey City, N.J.-based MSP and AWS partner.

With Amazon no longer giving away the retail cloud, more customers could potentially turn to the channel to implement storage on native AWS solutions, he said.

The price hike from the consumer division could ultimately benefit some customers and partners who offer their own consumer-facing storage built on AWS services like S3, Lucky added.

Customers will have 180 days to transition their Amazon Drive to their choice of plan. Amazon suggests downloading the data to a PC or mobile device, deleting data over 5 GBs, and then uploading to Amazon Drive.

After the 180-day grace period, any data more than 5 GBs that has not been moved to a new plan will be deleted starting with the most recent uploads until the excess capacity has been eliminated, Amazon said.

Joseph Tsidulko contributed to this story.