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Use Gmail as an extra drive

Monday, March 1st, 2010 by | Filed Under: E-Mail Help, Using The Internet
 
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Ever needed some online space to store files before sending them as email attachments? Maybe you need a way to store your presentations, pictures, documents or even your video collection online?

Online storage services require that you subscribe to a data plan. In addition, they don’t offer a secure connection or a decent amount of storage space unless you pay a monthly fee.

If you already use Gmail, you know it’s one of the best email service providers in the world. Gmail offers powerful spam protection, enhanced security and more than 7 GB (and growing) of free online storage space for emails.

However, emails require only a small amount of space for storage, leaving the rest of the space unused. So, why not use Gmail’s free space to store other files besides emails?

Gmail Drive is a free shell extension that allows you to do just that. Gmail Drive creates a new system partition in My Computer and integrates the space offered by Google into Windows Explorer. It allows you to use the online space as if it were just another hard drive attached to your computer. You can transfer files by drag & drop or copy/paste from your PC directly into your Gmail Inbox. And, it works with any version of Windows!

As great as Gmail Drive is, it does have some limitations. Gmail itself imposes most of these limitations.

Gmail has a limit of 25 MB per file. To counteract this, Gmail Drive will automatically split bigger files into smaller pieces.

While normal Windows operations such as creating new folders and copy/paste work well, Gmail Drive does not assign an actual drive letter (such as C :) to the drive it creates in My Computer. This prevents its use by some older Windows applications and all DOS programs.

In addition, because of limitations inside Gmail, file names are limited to 40 characters.

The first step towards enjoying your new storage space is to have a Gmail account. To sign up for a Gmail account, visit https://www.google.com and click on Gmail above the Google search bar.

Then, click on Create an account, and fill in the form with your information.

If you already have a Gmail account, you can skip this step.

The next step is to install Gmail Drive.

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Begin by pointing your browser to http://www.viksoe.dk/code/gmail.htm, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on one of the two download links. Then save the file to your desktop for easy access.

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Next, open gmailfs115.zip with your favorite file archiver (I recommend 7-zip since it’s free) or right-click the file and choose “Extract All” from the menu.

After you’ve unpacked the zip file, go to the gmailfs115 folder and double-click Setup.exe.

If you get an Open File – Security Warning, click on Run to give Windows permission to start the installation.

After the installation program finishes making changes to your computer, close the help window.

If you go to My Computer (“Computer” for Windows Vista and 7) you will see a new drive in the Other category.

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Double-click the GMail Drive to open the login window. Then, in the Username field input your Gmail id (ex: johndoe21) and in the password field input the password you chose for your Gmail account.

Check the Auto Login box to make sure that next time you double-click the drive you’ll be logged in automatically.

Before you click OK to connect to Gmail, click the More button to reveal some advanced options.

First, make sure the “Preserve Filenames” option is checked.

Second and this is very important, check the Use Secure HTTP option. This will make the connection between your computer and Gmail secure.

Lastly, check the Use Draft Folder option. This will send files to your draft folder instead of cluttering your inbox.

The other option, Use Proxy Authentication is only useful if you connect to the internet using a proxy server.

Now that you’ve checked all the important options, click OK to connect to Gmail.

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Then you can drag & drop or copy/paste any files to Gmail Drive, and it will send them as email attachments to your Gmail Drafts folder.

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The speed at which you can copy files to and from Gmail Drive will depend on the speed of your internet connection.

~Cosmin Ursachi

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