Google fleetingly offers some 1,000GB

An apparent glitch briefly escalated the e-mail storage arms race by a factor of 1,000, but when users blinked, that terabyte of Gmail space was gone.

Google raised storage limits for some users of its e-mail service by a factor of 1,000, but the change was a glitch the search engine company is working to reverse.

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.

"It was a bug. We are working to fix it," said Google spokesman Nate Tyler. "Gmail offers users 1 gigabyte of storage."

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 Web logs and Web sites.

On Wednesday, though, several users reported their limits were lowered back down to 1GB. "I was one of the people who had been given a terabyte of e-mail space. I sent an email to a friend, looked down, and it had been reduced back down to 1000MB," one Gmail user wrote in an e-mail to News.com.

Google triggered a rush to offer more storage space for Web-based e-mail services with the April announcement of 1GB of capacity. 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.

Yahoo responded to Gmail with a plan for 100MB of space. In the United Kingdom, Lycos is moving to offer 1GB for a fee. And the Macintosh-focused competitor Spymac offers 1GB at no cost.

Gmail's liberal storage limits may be popular, but the service's terms triggered privacy concerns because of Google's plan to scan the content of e-mail messages in order to serve up targeted advertisements.

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