Microsoft Drops A1 Plus & FREE Unlimited Storage for Education! Make the most of the Pooled Storage!

In a surprising move, Microsoft has announced the retirement of the A1 Plus license for education, accompanied by the removal of the free unlimited storage feature. These changes are set to impact educational institutions using Microsoft’s suite of tools. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the implications of these changes, explore their effects on educators, and provide actionable strategies to optimise your pooled storage and make the most out of this altered landscape.

Understanding A1 vs. A1 Plus Licenses

At the heart of these changes lies the difference between the A1 and A1 Plus licenses. While A1 offers essential functionality without desktop apps, A1 Plus includes these apps, making it an appealing choice for schools. Although each A3 and A5 licenses remain unaffected, A1 Plus users will experience a shift in their license type to A1.

Identifying Your License

Discovering which license you have is crucial in adapting to these modifications. By navigating the Admin Centre and visiting the Billing and Licenses section, you can ascertain your current licenses and their renewal date.

The New Storage Limitations

Previously boasting unlimited storage, Microsoft’s new changes introduce a cap of 100 terabytes for pooled storage across the tenant. This shared storage allocation encompasses OneDrive accounts, user mailboxes, and SharePoint sites. This blog post takes an in-depth look at the specifics of these new limitations and their implications for IT admins.

Timeline of Storage Tool Rollouts

Microsoft has outlined a timeline for introducing new storage tools. While some are already active, others are set to roll out in the coming months. This timeline offers insights into when you can expect to access various storage management tools, helping you plan accordingly.

Exploring the Storage Report Page

Microsoft’s storage reports page provides administrators with a detailed breakdown of storage consumption across Exchange, SharePoint, and OneDrive. While current storage limits might not yet be enforced, this tool allows you to proactively manage and optimise your storage resources.

Pooled storage in admin center

Managing OneDrive Storage

An in-depth exploration of managing OneDrive storage is provided in our video, outlining how administrators can use security groups to allocate differing storage allowances. Strategies are shared for effectively managing user storage limits within the constraints of A1 licenses.

Using security groups to restrict OneDrive storage limit

Centralising Resources for Efficiency

One effective strategy for optimising pooled storage is Centralising resources. By creating subject-level or department-level teams to store resources centrally, teachers can reuse materials across academic years, reducing duplication and storage consumption. This is something Cloud Design Box can automate for you based on school MIS data.

Centralising resources in education

Setting Retention Policies

Utilising retention policies within Office 365 can automatically delete files and emails after a designated period of inactivity. This not only frees up valuable storage but also aligns with data retention and GDPR policies. Check out our older blog post on retention policies

Restricting Site and Team Creation

Preventing uncontrolled site and team creation is essential for maintaining a manageable and secure environment. By delegating the creation of teams and SharePoint sites to trusted individuals and using specialised tools (like our Cloud Design Box site creation tool), schools can prevent unnecessary storage bloat.


Microsoft’s changes to the A1 Plus license and storage capabilities present challenges for educational institutions. However, armed with an understanding of these changes and armed with actionable strategies, IT admins can adapt and even thrive within this evolving landscape. As we navigate these shifts together, remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more insightful tips and guides on maximising your experience with Office 365, SharePoint, and Teams in education.

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