Monday, April 24, 2006

Give Yourself a Free 2GB of Hard Drive Space

Thanks to Google, we now all have super huge email accounts, probably more than we can remember. With the introduction of Gmail, other free webmail services in turn increased their space to match that of Gmail's 2GB of storage. Next to that fact, Google gives you 100 invitations so you can let your friends join up and get a Gmail email account too. If you've been living under a rock and don't have a Gmail account yet, you can sign up for a spooler service like isnoop.net or afraid.org where you can get in a queue line for an invitation to sign up. Or just ask anyone you know, more than likely they already have accounts.

But, thanks to an ingenious creation, you can use a Gmail account as a separate storage device. A bit of software called GMail Drive shell extension lets you add your Gmail account onto your system with a drag and drop feature to upload and store files. All you need is a Gmail account, and the software.

Since most everyone already has a Gmail account, you can simply invite yourself to create a new one for the storage space outside of the one you just use for the purpose it's intended - sending and receiving email. Once you've invited yourself, just click the verification link to create a new Gmail account and call it whatever you want. Since it will be for storage purposes only, there's no need to worry about having a vanity address. Just fill in whatever name you want and any address with a password and you'll have a fresh new Gmail account ready for storing files.

Next, simply install the Gmail Drive Shell Extension and put in the name of your new email address, password, and check to remember your account. Now when you go under 'My Computer' you should see that you now have an extra drive listed at the bottom called 'GMail Drive'. From there you can drag and drop files into it just like a regular folder, move, copy, delete and copy back to your hard drive. You can even right click on it and go to properties and see how much space you are using and have free like a regular hard drive. The other nice thing about this is you can use it on the road and have access to your files virtually anywhere, without spending money on one of those expensive flash or mini-USB hard drives.

Unfortunately, you don't seem to be able to install multiple drives with this program. If you could, you could use all your invitations to yourself and have yourself an extra free 200GB virtual hard drive, but Google probably wouldn't like that too much.

None the less, it doesn't seem to be against their terms of service to use this utility. But, so far, this seems to be the only utility of it's kind (that I'm aware of) that lets you take advantage of the large storage space of free webmail systems. In the future, we might see ones for Yahoo or even 30gigs.com. The other disadvantage of this is that you can't let other people access this drive publicly unless you give out your password. For needs like that, you would have to use a service like Rapidshare, MegaUpload, SaveFile, RocketDrive, or YouSendIt. All of those services (with the exception of RocketDrive) will delete your file after so many downloads or a certain period of time, or if no one downloads it for 30 days or so.

Either way, this is a very interesting concept and hopefully more software developers will make other programs to have similar functions for other file storing systems. Until then, enjoy your new 2GB of free space.

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