The Advantages & Disadvantages of Google Gmail Online Storage

By Kevin Lee

Gmail lets you access data whether you're at home or on vacation.
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In the early days of the Internet, some people relied on email services to store data for them. Simply email yourself an attachment containing information you'd like to store, and the service kept it for you online. You can still use this technique to save your data on Internet email services such as Gmail. If you do that, you will discover advantages and disadvantages to storing information online using Gmail.

Using Gmail to Store Data

Unless you only wish to store text information in Gmail, you'll need to create an attachment that holds your data. Do that by clicking "Compose," clicking "Attach a File" and selecting a file you'd like to attach from the File Upload window that opens. Gmail will display a link that contains the file's name above. That link also shows the file's size. Attach additional files by clicking the "Attach Another File" link. Type your Gmail address in the “To” text box, click “Send” and Gmail sends you the message that contains the attachment.

Gmail Storage Benefits

Use Gmail to store data, and you can access it from any location that has an Internet connection. Simply log into your Gmail account and find the message that contains your data. You can’t lose your information, either; that could happen when you store it on a hard drive that might fail. Keeping data in Gmail also makes it easy to share with others. For example, if one of your messages contains a video you’d like to share, you can forward it to a friend without having to upload the video first.


Your Gmail account is finite, and Google limits the amount of data that it can hold to 10 GB. Google bases your storage limit on the total number of messages in all folders, including Trash and Spam. Another disadvantage occurs if your Internet connection goes down. That can be catastrophic if you need to access your data immediately. Keeping track of your data can also be challenging if you have to manage dozens or hundreds of separate email messages. It also takes time to compose a message and send it just to save data you’d like to store online. Remember that you must open a file selection box each time you wish to add an attachment to an email message.


Pay attention to the Quota Indicator at the bottom of your Gmail screen. It shows the amount of storage space your account is using. When you approach your limit, you may want to delete messages in your Trash and Junk Email folders. You can find messages that have attachments by typing "has:attachment" -- without quotes -- in Gmail's "Search" text box. You can also display a list of messages whose sizes exceed a certain value. For instance, to find messages with sizes greater than 2MB, type "size:2000000" -- without the quotes -- in the search box. You can then delete them to free up space.

Alternative Storage Solutions

Google Drive can help you manage data more productively. Google Drive enables you to upload files to a Google Docs account that you can view online. You also have the option to install the Google Drive desktop app. It sits in the background and synchronizes files on your hard drive with those in your online Google Drive account. Sign up for a free account by visiting the Google Drive Web page (see Resources).