Dropbox is no longer offering new customers unlimited cloud storage. The company says crypto miners and other dastardly individuals pooled or resold storage space. Now, none of us can have nice things.
In a blog post, the company said the unlimited plan was originally geared for companies working in a shared space. Dropbox complained that folks were “pooling” their unlimited storage together for “personal use cases” while others were reselling storage to other people. At the same time, the company pointed its crooked “j’accuse” finger at Chia, a cryptocurrency that uses a unique kind of mining apparatus dependent on storage space.
Instead of the proof of work consensus model used by Bitcoin or the proof of stake model that Ethereum employs, Chia uses a “proof of space and time” which is centered on a storage-based consensus mechanism. As described by Decrypt, Chia eschews the need for GPUs for crypto mining—a process that eats up a lot of space and energy while helping to destroy the earth—and instead offers crypto rewards to users based on “plots” of 100 GB storage space staked out on hard drives.
Of course, this is crypto, and people have been looking to game the system by staking plots on cloud storage platforms that offer instantaneous file transfers. Farmers have mentioned using both Google Drive and Dropbox for Chia mining.
“In recent months, we’ve seen a surge of this behavior in the wake of other services making similar policy changes,” Dropbox said. “We’ve observed that customers like these frequently consume thousands of times more storage than our genuine business customers, which risks creating an unreliable experience for all of our customers.”
The company said it would rather not create a long list of dos or don’ts for its unlimited plan, so it’s switching to a “metered” model. Dropbox Advanced now supports 15 TB shared equally among three licenses. The subscription tier usually goes for $30 per user, per month, though Advanced does allow customers to buy up to 1,000 TB of data storage at the extreme end.
All those who currently subscribe to the Dropbox Advanced tier will be able to keep the same amount of storage they’re using, as long as it’s below 35 TB, for the next five years. For the few companies using more than 35 TB, they will still be able to use their current data plan, plus an extra 5 TB for the next year. Dropbox will be migrating more companies to new plans on November 1st. Anybody looking to go in fresh will now only receive 15 TB of storage space shared by at least three people.
Dropbox isn’t the only cloud storage company that’s decided to limit what was once unlimited. Over the last few years, Google has taken steps to end unlimited photo cloud storage. More recently, Google moved to a kind of “pooled storage” model for business accounts, and just a few months afterward users who once thought their Google Workspace Enterprise Storage was virtually unlimited found that it was, indeed, limited.
Gizmodo reached out to Google for any reasoning on its data limitations, but we did not immediately hear back.