Use Google Email as Cloud Storage with Gmail Drive

I think it’s safe to say, everyone these days has heard of the immensely popular Gmail email service provided by Google. Aside from the fact it’s a superb and very secure service, Gmail also offers a pretty sizable 10GB of space on your account. That’s a lot room for just emails!

There is also another service provided by Google called Google Drive that offers you 5GB of cloud storage space and allows you to backup, synchronize and store your favorite and important files online. While Drive is a very useful tool because it can integrate with Google’s Docs service and the Picasa image organizer, and offers cross platform sharing, it’s not for everyone if you just want a basic backup and restore option.

So, you have nearly 10GB of free space on your Gmail account and want a simple backup option either instead of, or over and above what the Google Drive service offers. Not to be confused with Google Drive, GMail Drive is a little third party utility which tries to do just that and use the Gmail service also as cloud storage.

The concept is quite simple in that it creates a virtual drive on your system which can be accessed in a similar way to any other drive or folder in Explorer. Then simply treat it like you would any other folder on your computer by copying files or folders to it. Gmail Drive works by automatically generating and then sending an email to your account using the files as an attachment. The program then checks your Gmail account at regular intervals to keep the file structure up to date.

gmail drive

To use Gmail Drive is quite simple, all you need is a free Google Gmail account if you don’t have one, and to install the Gmail Drive program installed on your computer. Just download the zip, extract it and install Gmail Drive. Once that’s done, the appropriately named virtual folder will appear in My Computer, as above. When you try to open the drive, a window will pop up where you need to enter your Gmail user name and password so Gmail Drive can access your account and control the messages it uploads and downloads.

Gmail drive Login

After you login, the virtual folder can be treated like any other folder on your computer with copy and move operations to and from it. Users with any experience of another cloud storage service, Dropbox, will know very well how it works.

As the number of emails in your inbox will grow depending on the number of files that are uploaded, it is highly recommended to create a filter in your Gmail account to send the Gmail Drive emails to a dedicated area. Luckily, they are all named with a prefix of GMAILFS in the subject so are easy to separate. For a brief guide on setting up a filter in your Gmail:

Create an email filter for Gmail Drive

1. In your Gmail account, look down the left and click More -> Create new label. Give it a name such as “Gmail Drive”.

2. Go to the settings cog icon -> Settings -> Filters tab -> Create a new filter link.

3. In the Subject box enter GMAILFS and you can also tick the “Has attachment” box. Click link to create filter.

gmail drive filter

4. Click “Skip the Inbox” if you want to keep all of these messages totally out of your Inbox, then tick “Apply the label” tickbox and select the label you created in step 1. If you already have Gmail Drive emails in you inbox, you can also tick the box at the bottom to apply the filter to existing emails. Click “Create filter”.

gmail drive filter

Any current and all created and sent emails by the Gmail Drive program will be then redirected away from the inbox and into the label you have specified. For more information on filters, visit the Google help page.
Gmail Drive does have a few limitations such as a 25MB limit on attachment sizes which is the Gmail limit, and a file name limit of 65 characters. The developer also notes that this program has nothing to do with Google and although it doesn’t break any of Google’s policies, changes or updates to the Gmail service might cause issues with Gmail Drive in future, although it does get updated periodically.

Download GMail Drive

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