Yesterday morning I woke up and was delighted to see that Google had finally enabled more storage for Gmail. It comes at a price, but who cares? I have been bumping up against my 2.8 GB Gmail storage quota regularly for months now, constantly teetering between 98% capacity and full. It’s been annoying and a bit stressful. Each week I’ve had to devote an hour or so to "garden" my account, ripping out the weeds (messages with large attachments) in order to make my e-mail account work again. Except they’re not really weeds – they’re files I would prefer to simply archive. In fact, the point of Gmail is to never have to delete anything. It’s core to Google’s marketing pitch for Gmail, as I am reminded whenever visiting the "Trash" section with the message "Who needs to delete when you have over 2000 MB of storage?!" Me for one, and probably thousands and thousands of others. For many of us who use Gmail as our primary mail service and who send and receive large files, 2.8 GB runs out fast. What was particularly troublesome was there were no good tools on Gmail to make gardening fast and easy. Despite, Gmail being a generally fantastic product of the world’s largest search company, there is no option for searching messages by file size (to determine which messages are clogging storage the most). Instead, I have been downloading my entire archive to Mac Mail, sorting by file size there, and returning to Gmail to search and delete files one by one. When on the go, and using Gmail on my Blackberry, I was often stranded since Gmail for mobile doesn’t enable trashing messages. If I received a very large set of photos or presentation mid-morning, I would have to wait until I returned home to garden and restore service.
So, a big "thank you" to Google for offering more storage. Google sparked a web-mail storage war when it launched Gmail by offering over 2GB for free. Other web mail service providers had been trying to charge users for anything above nominal storage. In response to Gmail, AOL and Hotmail upped free storage to 2GB. Not to be outdone, Yahoo recently pursued the nuclear option – unlimited free storage – as it watched Gmail take off. As a user, I would have preferred Google match Yahoo’s price. However, I think Gmail is a great product and believe Google can easily charge many users for storage. And while I still think it’s a bit ironic that Google doesn’t offer some key search functionality for Gmail, it’s a non-issue for me now.