Amazon Launches “Unlimited” Cloud Storage, Kicks Kindle Owners to the Curb

Kindle-VoyageKindle owners are angry today, and with good reason.

When Amazon launched their new unlimited storage tier yesterday they gave their customers more storage than you can shake a stick at, but they also quietly killed the free storage which they used to offer their customers.

A couple readers have told me, and I have confirmed, that Amazon is no longer offering the free 5GB storage tier. (Thanks, Tiberiu!) While no one would expect to get a freebie forever, the changeover is having an unexpected impact on Kindle owners, who have lost access to the cloud storage they have been enjoying since late 2011.

Update: Amazon reports that the SendToKindle conversion service did break, but they fixed it. Also, Kindle owners now have a separate place to store the personal documents they SendToKindle which Amazon says "will no longer count against your Cloud Drive storage limits". (This too was not temporarily nonfunctional.) And as always, the ebooks you buy from Amazon will always be hosted by Amazon.

Please disregard the rest of the post. It covers an issue which has been fixed by Amazon.

Since Amazon also offers an email conversion service for Kindle owners, this presents a special problem. As my tipster put it:

I just found out this morning that sending files from my PC to my Kindle Paperwhite doesn't work anymore.

Why is that? Because Amazon has killed the free 5GB option for all Cloud Drive users, and people are now forced to choose a yearly Cloud Drive plan in order to still be able to use the Send-to-Kindle feature.

Edit: I can now confirm the report. I just set up a new account at Amazon and registered a Kindle to it. That account has no online storage.

So Amazon took storage away from Kindle users? That sucks, but here is the kicker:

I still have 10 GB of storage on Amazon's servers.

Amazon might not be giving any free storage to Kindle owners, but I'm getting 5GB as a Prime member, and I'm getting another 5GB because I also own a Fire tablet:

amazon cloud drive

To be clear, I do own a Kindle, but I'm not getting 5GB of free storage to go with it.

Take a moment and wrap your mind around that, people.

If you own one type of Amazon hardware, you get 5GB of storage. But if you own another type of Amazon hardware, you get diddly.

Am I the only one who is having trouble fathoming that decision?

Amazon has nullified two of the features that made the Kindle better than any other ebook platform, while at the same time making the platform less useful to Amazon's customers. I don't understand why they did that, so I have queried Amazon on the matter. Right now I am hoping that they will respond with the explanation that this was a mistake, and that they will fix it.

And while they're at it, I would hope that Amazon will extend the free 5GB to Kindle app users as well (it would be silly to leave them out in the cold).

Given that the Kindle help pages still say that Kindle owners can store personal documents on Amazon Cloud Drive, I think there's a 50-50 chance that this really was a mistake, technical or otherwise.

Stay tuned.

About Nate Hoffelder (11474 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

44 Comments on Amazon Launches “Unlimited” Cloud Storage, Kicks Kindle Owners to the Curb

  1. I posted this type of question to mobileread this morning because I got the following email:

    Thanks for being an Amazon Cloud Drive customer! Amazon Cloud Drive is introducing new unlimited storage plans.

    You can now save all your photos in one place with the Unlimited Photos plan for $11.99/year, plus 5 GB for videos and files. Or, if you have more than photos that you need to keep safe, the Unlimited Everything plan is perfect for all your photos, video, files, and documents, for $59.99/year.

    [button] Learn more

    What happens to my current plan?
    Your 5 GB plan is no longer available and has been replaced with a free 3-month trial of one of the Unlimited plans. Access to your existing files has not changed. You can continue to download and view your content. In order to upload new files you will need to pick one of the free 3-month trials.

    Manage your Cloud Drive account

    I didn’t use it other than to read samples, HOWEVER, I have used the “mail this mobi to your kindle.” I don’t know if I will be able to mail a mobi to my kindle for free anymore. And what happens to the “Send to Kindle” program? I have offered my readers free short stories from my blog as “send to Kindle” for a few years now. I even hosted other author’s free short stories…guess I better go check that feature.

  2. From what I can tell, the “Send to Kindle” still works. I sent myself a story and it did not require anything new (log in to my account, hit send). I think I can probably also “mail” a mobi to my kindle, but haven’t check that feature yet.

    • I’ve seen a report on Twitter that the email function no longer works. There are similar reports on MobileRead.

      Maybe there’s a bug?

      • I checked, and the SendToKindle does work. Weird.

        • Yes, the Send to Kindle does seem to work. But if the “mail to your kindle” doesn’t this is going to affect places like Netgalley. They use that feature to send out review copies and if you don’t have prime…it sounds like it will no longer work (I don’t have prime. I don’t do a lot of reviews for them, but it looks like it will be going to zero.)

          I usually send out review copies directly to reviewers’ kindles (on request, mind you, not just spamming any old kindle!) If the mail feature doesn’t work, I’ll have to rely on those reviewers who know how to sideload (and that is probably under half those I work with on a regular basis. Although some may know how and just don’t use the sideload.)

          • I think we’re miscommunicating.

            I emailed documents to my Kindle. They showed up on the Kindle.

          • So Send to Kindle and e-mailing to the Kindle is completely unaffected. I’ve done both without an issue. I’ve talked to customer service at amazon, and they said that sending to the kindle does not count toward storage in the cloud drive, and they also told me I don’t even have to subscribe to the cloud drive.

  3. Send to Kindle is not the same as emailing a document…so let me see if I can make what I was trying to say more clear. SendtoKindle is a feature for sending (for example) a web post. See this link here:

    There’s a “Send to Kindle” button at the top. That’s the Send to Kindle I was testing. The email a file to a kindle is what Netgalley uses. I am glad that it will probably work if I understand what you tested!!

  4. I got this mail this morning, and my first reaction was ” They have to be kidding.” Then I realised they wasn’t. I am a bit bummed, I bought a Kindle recentlyish since I was getting annoyed with Kobo. sigh. I guess I am back to only side loading books…

  5. From the help page for cloud users:

    “Note: Kindle Personal Docs will no longer count against your Cloud Drive storage limits.”

    It seems that “Send To Kindle” has sort of a break now.

    • That is not what I read this morning, which means they’re changing the rules.

    • Okay, I just double checked with my alternate account. it still doesn’t have any way to store personal docs online.

      Apparently that sentence is saying that anyone who is paying for Cloud Drive can upload as many Kindle docs as they like. If you don’t pay, you don’t have this privilege.

      • No, you’re mistaken on this one. I don’t have a cloud drive subscription and I can still do both. Tested it half an hour ago. “Note: Kindle Personal Docs will no longer count against your Cloud Drive storage limits.” does not mean you need a sub. Hope this clears things up.

        • Yes, Amazon is now saying that the conversion service broke temporarily.

          And to clarify my previous comment, when I wrote that “personal docs won’t sync without cloud storage” I meant that I didn’t think things like bookmarks would sync from one Kindle to another.

  6. I was able to use “Send to Kindle” using LibreOffice – .DOCX format.

    Kindle PaperWhite second edition.

  7. Just as long as Send To Kindle still works, I’m not too outraged about the loss of cloud drive space. I have accounts at both Dropbox and Google Drive. The only reason there are even files on my Amazon Cloud, is that there is an option in Send To Drive to save them there.

    Personally, I don’t see anything wrong if Amazon wants to make Cloud Drive a premium service. The Kindle itself is a no-frills device (the cover etc. is extra if you want to buy it).

    However, if other services comparable to the Kindle (like Fire) still get cloud space, that is an insult to Kindle users. Hope it gets cleared up.

  8. So, I’m confused. I’ve got a Kindle Paperwhite and I buy books on a regular basis and have them delivered automatically. I leave the ones I haven’t read yet on my actual device, and upon finishing a book I “remove from device” and send it to the cloud so I only see the things I haven’t read yet.

    Every so often I want to read something again, so I switch over to the “cloud” tab and download it back to my device. I’ve never had to pay for any of this storage in the five years I’ve had two different Kindle devices.

    Am I to understand that unless I pay the yearly subscription I’ll be forced to keep all of my purchased books on my actual device moving forward? That I will no longer be able to “remove from device” and send it to the cloud for storage?

    • The subscription would just be for storing personal documents in the cloud, not the ebooks you buy at Amazon.

      • Well, that works for me then. All I need stored are the very large number of books I’ve purchased over the years. If I’m still good on that front, I’ll be happy.

        • The ebooks you buy at Amazon are archived elsewhere, not the cloud, unless you specifically SEND them to the cloud. And if I understand it right (questionable, I admit) you can no longer send them to the cloud unless you are a prime member or buy the subscription.

          So, for example, I have always deleted ebooks off my kindle but still have access to them through the manage device/ebooks section on Amazon. I can always resend them from there. They are stored as “purchased” and I can redownload them if I want them. The things I sent specifically to the cloud, I can still access, but I cannot send anything NEW without paying for the subscription.

      • Hi Nate–

        Storing personal docs in the Kindle cloud does NOT require any sort of subscription. I registered my Kindle to a new account that has no prime, no cloud drive storage at all. I did NOT accept any free trial. When I look at my Amazon Cloud Drive from my account, it tells me that in order to use it, I have to sign up for the trial.

        I then went to the “Manage your content and devices” section of my account and verified that personal document archiving was enabled. I then tried emailing a word document to my Kindle, and it appeared on the Kindle, as expected. I checked back on “Manage your content and devices” and that document appeared under “Docs”. I then registered the Send to Kindle app with the new Kindle account, and sent a different word document, but this time unchecked the box to send it to my Kindle, and only checked the box for “Save to Amazon Cloud Drive” It worked. Both documents are available in my Kindle Cloud.


  9. I just sent a PDF file to “send to kindle” which was converted to a Kindle AZW3 format making it much easier to read on a Kindle Paperwhite. Learn something new every day!

    You simply check the “convert box” PDF to Kindle format in options.

    I used explorer to find various PDF files on my hard drive and then selected “Send to Kindle”

  10. How we sync new books between devices if we have no cloud storage?

  11. This is not a good thing for those of us who use the Kindle for reading docs professionally. I suppose if I can still use the email/convert function it will still work for me. Just off to test it.

    Okay, it still works. Whew.

    I mean, before I bought the Paperwhite, I didn’t have Cloud storage on my old Kindle – the documents were stored like the books – and I had to manage them from my computer.

    I haven’t got the email about not having Cloud yet.

  12. Actually, that would mean for me needing to gift a new e-reader to my mother, since I relied on “mail to Kindle” to feed her books she can’t buy.

    Actually, I buy ebooks on my account (epub or Amazon), and then send them to her via mail to Kindle.

    Since she’s a total non-tech woman, with no access to a credit card (and a few hundred kilometers from my home), that solution was ideal.

    I guess I’ll need to replace the HW with a “dropbox” connexion. I won’t pay 60*$ a year for that.

    • Buy them on her account and they will go to her Kindle. If you want to access them yourself, you could do it via an app. Not that I know…I’m confused.

      • Yeah, I could do that, but what about books I want to buy at “not Amazon” ? And I don’t want her to be able to buy with my Credit-Card…

        • You could also link your two amazon accounts so you can share your library. I do this with my mother so we have access to each others books and it works well.

  13. I suspect what Kindle is trying do do, besides realizing that offering “free” cloud storage of non-Amazon-purchased content was costing them a lot of money, is trying to tighten the noose to get people more strongly entrenched in an Amazon-only one-click architecture. If someone has Prime, they still have the storage, from what I’m seeing. Depending on the kind of device someone has, they might still have storage (I’m hearing varying reports, and those who still do have the service might just not have had the changes rolled out to their accounts yet). There are many companies (including my publisher) who allow people to purchase books on their sites and directly send to Kindle. That’s costing Amazon money not just in lost sales from it not being a direct purchase, but also in the cloud storage space. As Amazon has built up market share, especially with the cloud storage, they’re realizing they have to expand the capabilities but to do so without it crippling their bottom line.

    That’s my best hypothesis, anyway.

    • Actually Tymber, when I did my experiment with registering my Kindle to a new account I was able to send personal documents to the Kindle cloud without having Prime. I also made it a point not to accept the free trial of the new Amazon Cloud drive on the new account.

      So…to recap…this does not affect Kindles or Kindle personal doc storage or whispersync in any way at all. Kindle cloud storage is completely separate from the Amazon Cloud Drive.


  14. this amazon cloud thing is all very confusing. I got the email yesterday but my big question is I have a kindle fire, kindle paperwhite and kindle app on my iPad. All thebooks that I buy on amazon are on these devices but if I have not read them yet they are on the cloud part of my kindle does that mean I have to download them to my device right away and I receive ebooks from an author since I’m on her street team does that mean I need to get cloud storage and pay for it. I only have book in my kindle..

    • Maddy, none of this has anything to do with your Kindle books–neither the ones you have bought from Amazon, or the ones that you have sent to your Kindle cloud using either your Kindle email address or the Send to Kindle app. I really wish that Nate would edit his original article to make that clear.


      • The fault lies with Amazon. The email they sent is VERY unclear. I had to go try to figure out what was what because of that email. I’m quite certain when Nate wrote the article, the mysteries were still unsolved!!!

      • Thanks Shari, I hate the fact that it’s all confusing. Why doesn’t Amazon just make so that you get a certain amount of free cloud storage and then if you need more you can pay for extra storage. If this was a service available to kindle users before why are they suddenly charging for it…

      • To further the confusion, Nathan at the EBook Reader Blog got a completely different answer:

        “I got an email back from Amazon support and they basically just re-posted the earlier email, saying the free 5GB tier has been removed and that customers would have to buy a cloud plan to upload documents. You can still send documents to Kindle devices and apps, but there’s no archiving or syncing without a cloud plan. It may still be allowed outside the US for now, but that will probably change.”


        The worst part is that they folded the Personal Document storage into Cloud Drive about three years ago, and they still refer to Cloud Drive in the current Personal Documents help page.

        • That’s completely different from my experience, and other people’s. I registered my Kindle to a new account, and made a point of NOT accepting any free trial for cloud storage. I was, however still able to email a doc to my Kindle and have it archived in my KINDLE cloud, and also use the Send to Kindle app and have it archive the doc in my KINDLE cloud.

          Note the difference…both of these are in the KINDLE cloud, not the Amazon Cloud drive storage. Amazon did bundle the Kindle storage in with the cloud drive last year, but it seems as if they are un-bundling them again.


  15. My “send to kindle” via Firefox addon and via with “convert” option stop working in mid-march and I still have the same problem.
    I chat, email and tweet with all Amazon support and each one tolds me differents things.

    I don´t want to pay a cloud and I need this tools.

  16. I am new to Prime and I am wondering how to store my already read books onto my cloud storage? I don’t have a kindle anymore but do have the app on my computer and my tablet and my phone. I am not sure how to use prime at all at this time and totally confused. Thank you Karen Edwards.

  17. I’m a bit confused on this whole thing. I only take pics on my kindle and it notifies me that my trail is almost up. Can someone clear this up for me. Is there a way I can still keep/save my photos on my kindle without paying for it and not having to reset it? And does the storage apply to games as well bc my little sisters have a bunch of them. I have a kindle fire 8 5th Generation and they have the original kindle fire.

    • You are not paying for the storage on your Fire tablet. That reference to a trial is talking about the cloud storage.

      Yes, you can continue to take photos and store them on your Fire tablet. But I would also recommend that you check the online storage and download any photos.

      I don’t know how many photos you took, but I am concerned that you may have photos stored online which are no longer on your Fire tablet. You should download the photos to make sure you don’t lose them.

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