Google just escalated the e-mail storage arms race by a factor of 1,000.
Several users of the search engine's Gmail Web-based e-mail service noticed Tuesday that their storage limits had quietly been raised to 1 million megabytes, or 1 terabyte. That's four times the typical capacity of a new high-end PC's hard drive.
The Gmail service still is in testing, and it wasn't immediately clear how widely Google will offer the higher storage limit, under what conditions, or to which users.
Google didn't respond for requests for comment late Tuesday.
Detroit resident Rajiv Vyas, who has been using Gmail for about a month, was wowed by the change. "It's great. Although I am not sure what I will do will all this memory," he said. "In the long run, it would help me store not only photos but every file on my desktop. This is 10 times more (storage space) than what I have on my office or home PC."
Others who spotted the change posted notices to and .
Google triggered a rush to offer more storage space for Web-based e-mail services with the April announcement of . The move pressured the dominant Web-based e-mail service providers, Yahoo and Microsoft's Hotmail, which currently charge subscribers $10 to $50 per year for a much smaller amount of e-mail storage space.
to Gmail with a plan for 100MB of space. In the United Kingdom, Lycos is moving to offer . And the Macintosh-focused competitor .
Gmail's liberal storage limits may be popular, but the service's terms triggered because of Google's plan to scan the content of e-mail messages in order to serve up targeted advertisements.