Sunday, 13 January 2013

How To Use Gmail as a Virtual Hard Drive

With all of that extra space on Gmail, wouldn’t it be nice to use some of it for storage rather than mail?

You can, with a free piece of software called GMail Drive shell extension. Download it from here, and install it.

Google doesn’t look kindly on people who use software like this to turn Gmail into extra storage for your PC. In fact, it may lock your account if it finds you doing this. For details, see item #3 on this site.

After you install it, run Windows Explorer. A new drive will appear, called the Gmail Drive. Double-click it, and type in your Gmail password and username. If you don’t want to have to log in every time you click the drive, check the box next to Auto Login.

You can use the Gmail drive as you can any other folder on your hard drive. (You’ll of course have to be connected to the Internet for it to work.) This means you can copy files to it using Windows Explorer in the same way that you do any other files, and you can create sub-folders as well.

The Gmail drive looks like any hard drive on your system, but remember that it’s a virtual drive and you’re connected to it over the Internet. So, you can transfer files to it only at the speed of your Internet connection. On a dial-up connection, this will be exceedingly slow.

When you view the contents of your Gmail drive, the icons for the files won’t necessarily look like the normal ones. Instead of showing the native icons for each file type (such as pieces of paper for Word files), in some instances, they’ll show as gear-type icons.

When you copy a file to your Gmail drive, you’re actually creating an email and posting it to your account. The email will appear in your Inbox, with the file as an attachment. If you want to open any of the files from inside Gmail, click the email to view it, and then click the Download button. The file will be downloaded to your PC. Using Gmail as a virtual drive can make your Inbox pretty messy. Luckily, you can create a filter that will automatically route the files to your archived mail folder. That way, you’ll never see them in your Inbox, and they’ll be in your archives.

The emails with the files attached to them all show up preceded by the letters GMAILFS. So, create a filter that will move all files with that prefix to your archived mail by first clicking Create a Filter from the top of the Gmail screen. In the Subject box, type GMAILFS, check the box next to “Has attachment,” and then click Next Step. Then check the box next to “Skip the Inbox (Archive it)”, and then click Create Filter. All your files will be sent straight to your Archive,bypassing the Inbox.

You can also have them labeled so that you know at a glance which files you copied from your hard disk. Before clicking Create Filter, check the box next to “Apply the label.” From the drop-down box next to it, select New Label, and from the screen that appears, type in the label name (such as Hard Drive), and click OK. From the drop-down list, choose your new label. Now click Create Filter. The files will be archived but will also have the label next to them, so you can easily view only your files by clicking the Hard Drive label when you log into Gmail.

It’s not a good idea to use Gmail as your hard drive if you’re going to use POP3 to retrieve your email from Gmail with your email software. If you do that, whenever you retrieve email from Google, you’ll also retrieve all the files you’ve copied to Google when you used it as a virtual hard drive, which can be hundreds of megabytes.


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