Gmail to the rescue

You have to wonder how a company that doesn't charge anything can afford to buy enough storage space for tens of millions of people and profit.

By DAVID SHAMAH
November 16, 2006 15:04
4 minute read.
Gmail to the rescue

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It's been a long night. Really long. But your presentation is ready. After hours of coding and programming, your super snazzy Powerpoint/Web/Digital Video presentation is good to go. And, it's a work of art, if you do say so yourself - the big account is all but yours. Time for a little shut-eye, you think to yourself before falling dead asleep on the sofa. Next thing you know, the sun's shining right in your eyes. Morning already. You take care of your morning routine, get dressed for the office and are about to walk out the door. But wait! The presentation! You need to get it off your home PC and onto your office computer. Good thing you remembered now, with five minutes to catch the bus/train/ride to work. But then you realize, five minutes just aren't going to do it. Floppy disks won't hold this 50 megabyte behemoth; you're fresh out of blank CDs, so burning a disc is out of the question (and don't those things scratch easily anyway). And your whole ISP account mailbox is a paltry 10 megabytes altogether. If only you had been a little more social - a little more, well, friendly. Then someone would have invited you to join Gmail, the Google Web mail service - and you could have easily transferred your work from home to office, or anywhere else, using a very cool Gmail add-on called Gmail Drive Space. You may have come across Gmail; that's the Web mail service that gives users more than two gigabytes (not megabytes) of space in which to store their e-mail. Did I say two GB? A mere bag of shells! Account storage sizes seem to creep up daily - I'm up to 2.78 GB today. As per Gmail's original recommendations, I have yet to throw any messages in the trash, and I still have plenty of free space (until very recently, in fact, Gmail seemed to discourage mass deleting; see http://tinyurl.com/vswe7). Gmail is a fantastic service - although you have to wonder how a company that doesn't charge anything for any of its manifold services can afford to buy enough storage space for tens of millions of people and turn a profit. But that's their problem, not ours; like the old Yiddish saying goes, "If they're giving, take!" Only one problem - Gmail is an exclusive club. Well, not too exclusive - but in line with the company's philosophy that togetherness is good (http://tinyurl.com/y4xj5j), they want you to connect with other Gmail users and get invited into the service. You can also get one directly from the company if you have a cellphone account in the US or several European countries (Israel is not included). It's actually not too hard to pick up an invite, though - most Gmail users have plenty (write me if you want one), and all you have to do is ask a correspondent writing you from a Gmail.com address. For those who travel in non-G(oogle) circles, you can get a free account for the asking from Bytetest (http://www. bytetest.com/), which ferries donations of accounts it receives to needy Gmail candidates (the site has given away more than 400,000 accounts so far). Once you have a Gmail account, moving big files around the Net is no longer a problem; all you have to do is send yourself a Gmail e-mail with your file attached from your home PC and log onto your Gmail account when you get to the office. But there's an even easier way. Sending a Gmail attachment entails logging onto your account, addressing a message to someone (such as yourself), clicking on the upload button, etc. While many gigabyte-starved users would be more than happy to go through this rigmarole to get their large files from point A to point B, uploading and downloading files can be even easier with Gmail Drive Space (http://www.viksoe. dk/code/gmail.htm). Windows users with Gmail accounts can download and install this program, which provides a Windows "namespace drive shell" to the free space on your Gmail account. Once installed, your Gmail space is listed as a separate drive in your "My Computer" window - and you can treat it just like a regular drive on a network, copying files to and fro via Windows. No attaching necessary - and you don't even have to log onto Gmail to copy (you do need to be attached to the Internet, of course). Google, it should be pointed out, has not sanctioned this use of Gmail - as far as it's concerned, it's an e-mail service, period. However, it should also be pointed out that there are dozens of programs and services similar to Gmail Drive Space (such as Gmail File Space, an extension for Firefox users at http://www.rjonna. com/ext/gspace.php), and Google has taken no action against any of them. The lack of endorsement may be due to plans the company is said to have for its own virtual drive service, to be called Gdrive (http://tinyurl.com/ gdpce). When and if it does, services like Gmail Drive Space will become redundant, if not outrightly forbidden by Google - but by then you'll have transferred all the presentations you need to get all the big accounts you can handle.

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