Friday, February 22, 2013

Managing Gmail Free Storage

Gmail has become the most popular webmail service provided by Google with more than 425 million active users. It was launched in 2004 as a beta version to invited users. I subscribed to it 2 years later after a friend who was invited to join issued me his invitation and thereafter I invited my friends too. So it was by recommendation that the user base of Gmail grew. The layout was bland and uninteresting but that was the focus, to design a simple layout that make the email more functional than pretty. I had earlier used Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail but decided to go with Gmail as my default address on the Web.

Gmail added incremental storage space as you use the program. I remember the maximum storage allowed for free advertisement based accounts was 7 Gb until over a year ago when Google decided to up it to 10 Gb which is still growing steadily. Today I think users has 10.1 Gb storage space. I'm sure over time Google will up the limit again but their ultimate goal is of course to force the heavy and disorganized users to pay for additional storage once they reach the maximum limit. Those who subscribe to the Gmail for business gets 25 Gb storage which should also see increase over time.

How do we avoid paying Google? Simply by outsmarting them. I know Google gameplan is one day to force every user who are sucked into their free facilities to pay subscriptions to retain using their services, including this blogspot free blogging service. It will be highly unpopular but there will come a time when free services will become either time or capacity based. Until that day come we should learn to manage within the limit of free usage.

Recently I noticed my Gmail storage has exceeded 50% of my free allowance. Nothing to worry really as I still have some 4 Gb free storage left. However Gmail doesn't let users sort their mails. It is basically a search facility so you use keywords to look for past mails. I'm sure majority of users have a habit of not thrashing emails, some may not even know or bother sending obvious spammed mails into the junk box. Without a basic plan to sieve the junks and periodically delete the thrash box the available storage will become quite limited especially if you are heavy in sending and receiving large attachments, including those forwarded mails. I had been going through my mails, all my mails in fact, and make a decision to keep or delete based on their usefulness and revelance. In particular those that have pictures, videos and PowerPoint files attached. I will delete those I send as I still keep these multimedia files in my backup hard disks so it is not necessary to let them bloat my Gmail sent box. I am more careful of my inbox and only delete mails with attachments if these attachments, if useful for archival or referrals, have been downloaded and stored way. Mails that contain sentimental messages and of material importance will stay and trivial correspondence will get deleted. My key question before I hit the thrash button is, will this mail be useful to me after 3-5 years? If the answer is a yes or maybe, they earn an extended life, otherwise they are queued to be deleted.

A few days ago I spent several hours scrolling over nearly 3000 posts and systematically separate those I want to keep and those I won't miss if they are disposed. The effort only end when I hit the delete key on the thrash box which contain over 2 Gb of unwanted mails, mostly with attachments. After that I felt immense relief when I saw my usage fell significantly to just 28%. It was a major exercise than I shan't undertake within the next 2 years or so. In the meantime I don't think I need worry that Google will make me pay for their Gmail service.

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