SolutionBase: Use your Gmail account as remote storage with GMail Drive

Gmail is a popular e-mail service whose acres of storage space make it a great medium for storing files. Here's how you can store files and integrate Gmail with Windows using GMail Drive.

Back in the 'olden days', when you wanted to transport files from one location to another, you'd have a case with a set of floppy disks in them. The floppy disk reigned supreme for a long time but as file sizes became larger and larger, floppies became impractical.

Rewritable CDs have helped pick up some of the slack. So have USB thumb drives. But both of these devices have limited capacity and have to be carried around like the old fashioned floppies.

Now you can access files from anywhere if you have a Gmail account using GMail Drive. This utility allows you to convert your Gmail email account into remote storage that can be accessed anywhere you have Internet access. Here's how it works.

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What's Gmail and GMail Drive?

Unless you're brand new to the Internet, you know that Gmail is Google's online Web-based email service. It competes with popular online email services like Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail. One of the reasons that Gmail is so popular is the fact that it has a storage limit of over 2Gb as part of its free service. Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail have much lower limits.

GMail Drive takes advantage of this large storage limits and integrates Gmail into Windows Explorer. You can then store and access files on your Gmail account directly from your workstation's desktop.

GMail Drive is a freeware program created by Bjarke Viksoe. You can download a copy of it directly from his Web site. The file you'll download is very small, so it won't take very long to get. Just save the zip files to a temporary directory on your hard drive and extract the setup file within.

Run Setup.EXE and that's all there is to it. GMail Drive installs in seconds.

Using GMail Drive

To use GMail Drive, open My Computer. At the bottom, in the Other section, you'll see the GMail Drive icon. If you double-click this icon, you'll see the GMail Drive login window appear. Here, enter the user ID and password for your Gmail account. If you don't want to have to enter this information every time, select the Auto Login check box.

GMail Drive will log in to Gmail and display a window that looks like Windows Explorer. You can then drag and drop files right into the GMail Drive folder window. You'll notice that only GMail Drive files appear in this window. If you already have mail in your Gmail Inbox, these messages won't appear.

Conversely if you open a Web browser and go to your Gmail account, you'll notice a new Email Message for every file you save in GMail Drive. The email will appear to come from you and have the subject line GMAILFS: with the filename of your file.

If you delete the file inside of Gmail, the file will naturally also disappear in GMail Drive. You won't notice this right away however. You'll only see the file disappear when you refresh the GMail Drive folder.

It's as simple as that

That's all there is to using GMail Drive. Once you've installed it on your workstation, it works seamlessly as if Gmail was a physical device inside your system. If you have a laptop and Internet Access, you can access your files wherever you go. Even if you don't have your machine with you, you can still access your files by logging into your Gmail account using any workstation running any operating system.