Friday, October 26, 2007

Download This! - GMail Drive

For newcomers to the blog: first, welcome and I hope you'll stick around. This particular post seems to have generated a lot of traffic, mostly through StumbleUpon. It is one in a series of articles, titled "Download This!", covering free utilities worth downloading. Find the rest in the series here, or by clicking the "Downloads" tab at the top.
Also try some book recommendations, travel tips and tech tips.

Enjoy your stay and come back soon!

I've written several posts about Google services and APIs (here's one about GData). Here's a tool that shows usefulness and initiative.

Over time, my GMail account grew in capacity, from 1GB to 1.5, 2 and today it stands proudly at 4.2GB. Frankly, I don't have that much email. But isn't this just underutilized online storage, waiting to be harnessed?

That's exactly what this tool's developer thought. Utilizing Google's interface, he'll allow you to treat your entire GMail account as a big online depot.

After installation, the software manifests itself as just another drive in the My Computer screen. Right click it and enter the GMail account's username and password and you're all set. Now you can drag-n-drop files onto the icon or treat it like another disk on your machine.
Every time you copy a file, it translates into an email with an attachment. But you don't need to care - all you see are files, as if they are in Explorer.

Install it on more than one computer - and it's a great way to have access to files you need on the fly. Create a shared account with your friends - and you'd be able to share those files. And best of all - you can always create another GMail account == limitless disks :).

Since attachments are limited by Google (specifically to block storage abuse) to 10MB, this will be the maximum file size you'd be able to upload. I just use an archive software (like WinRar) to break the file into 10MB pieces.

Uninstallation (if needed) is painless. Like I've said useful, free and shows great use of an API for other purposes than those it was designed for.

Download GMAil Drive here.

I've had several people comment that an alternative called GSpace performs the same function. GSpace is a Firefox extension and behaves like a file transfer program inside your browser. It allows multiple GMail account management. For my money, I'll stick to GMail Drive - smaller and better integrated with the OS. Also does not require me to open the browser to use.

Important Update! (11/9/07)
Google just changed something in the GMail log-in sequence, as preparation for launching GMail 2.0. Please download the latest version of GMail Drive (1.12 - not the beta) that deals with the change.

Another Update (11/18/07)
My GMail box just crossed the 5GB threshold! Go Google Go!

Scary Update (12/7/07 7:30am)
Someone in Google UK just spent 13 minutes reading this post. Why? I do not know. Hopefully to enjoy the great review (and NOT to block this API). Click here to see the DNS entry I received.


Joseph With Computer Maintenance said...

When did the gmail allowance go above 4gb? last time I checked it was still at 2.8gb or so. Now I read your article, then go check my own account, and there it is! 4448mb all of a sudden. Whew, what a dealybobber!

Traveling Tech Guy said...

I've had ove 3GB for several months now, but I think the 4GB was announced last week, together with some other improvements (IMAP support for once). But they still have that "beta" tag. My theory is that it's an excuse not to correct bugs :)

nubwaxer said...

all files i stored using previous version of this application have vanished, and its current incarnation will not allow me to place any files into the drive space.

same dud it's been for what, about a year now?

nubwaxer said...

correction to last comment: Gdrive works on my primary Gmail account, not my second "spam trap" that forwards everything to the primary account.

that i could move files into it surprised me, but hundreds of mb of files placed there in the past have totally vanished.

Traveling Tech Guy said...

Really? Sad to hear your files are gone. I've been using a previous version of GD and completely forgot about that account (Gmail still had 2GB at that time). When I installed the current version, I found all the files there intact.

I did, however, read somewhere that Google is opposed to people using Gmail as a storage area (they'd rather roll out their own service, a-la SkyDrive - read this: They therfore delete those files that "violate the terms of usage". In the case of Gmail Drive - very easily located files.

Traveling Tech Guy said...

Well, if I recall the instructions correctly, you can't forward the files that GD uses. The application uses the filename to parse the attachments into files. Forwarding them ads an "fwd:" prefix, and screws the parsing up.

Maybe the files are still recoverable? Are the emails with the attachments still available?

Anonymous said...

The problem with this is that it is against Google's Acceptable Use Policy. Do some more research and you'll be able to find people that have gotten their accounts deleted for using this very application for large amounts of storage. You are however fine, so long as you aren't filling your account with stuff.

Traveling Tech Guy said...

Indeed, it is against Google policy - and no one promises they won't del;ete it. Look for my post on SkyDrive for a legal alternative.

RoseD1st said...

I just wish they would let you transfer bigger files!

Traveling Tech Guy said...

Google doesn't condone using it's Gmail account as a storage facility. The 10Mb limit comes from the maximum attachment size allowed by Google.

If I recall correctly, their original reason in limiting the attachment size was their trying to prevent people turning Gmail into a file-sharing platform.

But here's an interim solution: use an archive software (WinRar, WinZip or the free 7zip) to break you big file into 10MB chunks.

Anonymous said...

I keep waiting for someone to multithread online storage. Imagine your data chunked into smaller files and uploaded to dozens of accounts. A header file is created with the information of which chunks are on which accounts. You can then download dozens of these chunks at once. The agregate bandwidth should allow any connection to max out its download speed, given a large enough number of connections. This would be minus a bit of lag starting connections up at the beginning and for the slower downloading pieces at the end. This list of account information could even be shared, and with header emails stored in those accounts, any 3rd parties you gave the account list to could also upload and download from this shared online composite drive as fast as their connections could handle.

To give the data some more resilience, the chunks could be emailed to a number of different accounts once uploaded & the headers could be updated to reflect secondary sources for a chunk. On gmail for example this could be used to prevent excessive access to a single account in a day, or in the case that the primary's limit has been reached, retain secondary access to the data. It can of course too handle much better in the case of deletion of a small enough number of your accounts. This could also allow for an alternative as the file is finishing downloading for slow chunks.

Further resiliency could be gained by adding more free online hosting solutions to the application. The effect of this is magnified if you also use relayed mail to add secondary sources for chunks.

By adding proxy support to the application you could slow down each connection, but run them thru a different proxy. This would alleviate problems of crackdowns by any free hosting agrencies against such a program by hiding the agregate consumption as you appear as dozens of different users. More accounts than you actually need to sustain maximum connection speeds could also alleviate usage per account. Again, this would make you appear much more like dozens, maybe hundreds, of normal users.

Traveling Tech Guy said...

Hi IM3333632,
You've just described the Bittorent protocol :)

Your idea sounds incredible - but I'm sure Google is shuddering at the thought of thousands of Gmail accounts created automatically and populated with random chunks of data.

Maybe a service running on Amaozon's S3 platform would fit better?

Traveling Tech Guy said...

Hi IM3333632,
You've just described the Bittorent protocol :)

Your idea sounds incredible - but I'm sure Google is shuddering at the thought of thousands of Gmail accounts created automatically and populated with random chunks of data.

Maybe a service running on Amaozon's S3 platform would fit better?

FlashFaint said...

Very useful Thanks.