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Important: OneDrive and McGill Outlook email storage space reduction.

Published: 15 January 2024

Students! Please read carefully since the information contained in this announcement will affect your ability to store files in your OneDrive account and may affect your ability to send emails from Outlook after May 31st 2024.

Microsoft is introducing changes to our service offering across our Microsoft 365 Education suite that require us to place limits on storage. As of May 31st, 2024, students will have 20GB (Gigabytes) of OneDrive storage space, in addition to 20GB of Outlook email storage.

Microsoft’s storage reduction is driven by security risks associated with large amounts of potentially forgotten confidential or sensitive information and data. Consideration must also be given for the financial and environmental cost of maintaining the space allocated for unused files in student's accounts.

Sustainability is an important consideration that drove Microsoft to make that decision. Billions of unused files, and hundreds of Petabytes, stored on OneDrive cloud servers all around the world, have a very real, negative impact on our carbon footprint. They require a lot of electrical energy for the billions of files to be kept available 24/7 as well as ensuring their security. This electrical energy generates more and more excess heat, and we need to curb this dangerous trend.

The MIT published an article about the impact and power usage of cloud computing and storage. You can read it here, but here is a quote from the article: “The Cloud now has a greater carbon footprint than the airline industry. A single data center can consume the equivalent electricity of 50,000 homes.”  For these reasons, Microsoft has decided to take drastic steps to reduce the carbon footprint of their data centers by making sure the data stored within them is not simply sitting there.

And this is why we are asking you to reduce the data stored in your OneDrive and in your Outlook email.


For OneDrive:

During the Winter 2024 semester, email reminders will be sent to students who store more than 20GB worth of files in their OneDrive asking them to reduce their storage to the allotted limit before May 31st.

If your current storage exceeds 20GB, empty the recycle bin, remove shared items and application installers. Move older, unused and large files such as videos, PowerPoint presentations or picture libraries, off your OneDrive to another secure, non-cloud-based location right away so you are ready for May 31st storage space reduction.

Please be advised that if your OneDrive exceeds 20GB after May 31st, you won’t be able to store new files on it until you have reduced its size appropriately. (Just like when your voicemail is full).

Please consult this article if you want to check your current OneDrive storage.


For Outlook email:

In the case of Outlook, if your storage exceeds 20Gb after May 31st, you will not be able to send or receive emails until you have reduced your storage below the limit.

Please consult this article if you wish to know your current Outlook storage status.

If certain emails contain valuable but storage hungry attachments, we suggest you use the “Save as” drop-down option to download it. Once it is safely saved locally, you can remove it using the Remove option from the same menu.

(Please note: these options are only available on Outlook for PC, not on the online or Mac versions. If you only have access to these platforms, download the attachments then delete the email.)


If you have questions, please visit the IT portal.

where multiple Knowledge Base articles on the subject will provide answers to most of your questions (simply search for OneDrive to find them).

If you need more than 20GB, please investigate alternative storage solutions.

For special storage needs, please contact the Service Desk. Examples of appropriate extended storage space requests: Collected research data or video content related to research project or class projects exceeding allotted storage. Storage requirements will be evaluated on an individual basis and supplemental storage can be refused.

If you store data on a non-McGill-approved storage platform, please review McGill University’s data storage guidelines and policies.

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