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Operating Systems

Convert Gmail into your network drive

The GSpace extension for Firefox lets you send files to Gmail and view them in an explorer-style window.

I started e-mailing files to myself as a form of ad-hoc backup soon after I signed up for a Gmail account. I'm not affected by Gmail's 20MB limit on the size of individual attachments, and I'm nowhere near my storage cap of 6.6GB.

I decided to formalize the process a bit by using the Gspace extension for the Firefox browser. The add-on lets you send files from your local PC to a virtual Gmail folder and view them much like you would in Windows Explorer.

After you install the Gspace applet and restart Firefox, you find a Gspace shortcut on the browser's Tools menu. Click it to open a file-transfer "program" in a new tab. The top-left window shows your local folders and files. In the top-right window are the files in your Gspace virtual folder. Below these are two smaller panes displaying the progress of the current file transfer, and properties of the selected file (including a thumbnail of images).

The Gspace extension for Firefox
Use the Gspace extension for Firefox to send files in bulk to your Gmail account. Gspace

Gspace's other three "modes" let you play audio files (though I couldn't get this feature to work), view image files, and download--but not upload--files to your Gmail Drive. The File Transfer windows is where you're likely to spend most of your time, however.

When you return to your Gmail inbox, you'll find one message for each file you transferred, with the file itself attached. You can unclutter your inbox by archiving the files. Create a Gmail filter using your e-mail address in the From and To fields, and "$d" in the subject field. Choose the "Skip the inbox (archive it)" option in the filter wizard.

Gspace works only with files you send via the service, not with files attached to e-mails sent to your Gmail account from anywhere else. One way to retrieve Gmail file attachments in bulk is by using the service's own search identifiers "has:attachment" and "filename:doc" (or any other file extension). You have to open the individual messages to view any information about the attachment, however.

Browser helpers such as Gspace make it easy to store your files online, but with a little bit more effort, you can get automatic encryption, scheduled backups of select folders, and 2GB of free storage with services such as IDrive, which I wrote about last month.

Monday: troubleshoot notebook-hibernation problems.