How Do I Use Gmail for Data Storage?

By Chad Davis

You can upload and store files using message drafts that automatically save to your Gmail account. While Gmail can store your data, there are many disadvantages to this method, including file size limits, file type restrictions and lack of version control. Google Drive is Google's cloud storage service designed to help you upload and share your important files. You can use Google Drive to share large files by inserting links to the files in your Gmail messages.

Attaching Your Files to Email Drafts

Compose a new message or open the message for which you want to attach your files. Click the "Attach Files" button, resembling an icon of a paperclip, below your message. Select the files you want to attach. Hold "Ctrl" while clicking to select multiple files. Click the "Open" button. A progress bar appears at the bottom of your message while your files upload to Gmail; once complete, the file names change to blue. Enter an optional subject and message and then click the "X" to close the message. Your message is automatically saved as a draft on Google's server.

Advantages of Gmail Storage

Gmail helps you store your important data in the same location as your email to eliminate the need to access other storage services or file locations. You can locate all of your messages that include attachments by entering "has:attachment" into your Gmail search box. You can also assign labels to your messages to help you organize your attached data. You can share your files by sending or forwarding your messages containing attachments to your recipient's email address. You can also access your files by logging in to Gmail from any Web browser.

Disadvantages of Gmail Storage

Gmail is not designed to be used as a data storage solution with an attachment size limit of 25MB -- far from ideal for a storage solution. Further, as a security precaution, Gmail blocks some file types as attachments, such as executable files with an EXE file extension. See Google Support's website (link in Resources) for a full list of blocked file types. Gmail also doesn't provide you with folders, file version control or collaboration tools found in cloud storage service -- and you cannot easily see your files in Gmail or organize them into categories.

Storing Your Files in the Cloud

Google accounts automatically provide you with 15GB of free storage across its services, including its cloud storage service, Google Drive. Click the "Apps" button, resembling an icon of nine squares, at the top of Gmail and then select "Drive" -- or visit the Google Drive website (link in Resources). Click the "Upload" button next to Create and then "Files…" Open the files you want to upload to your Google Drive storage. You can also use third-party cloud storage providers as an alternative to your Google account. These services include Box, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive (links in Resources).

Inserting Your Google Drive Files into Gmail

While Gmail has a 25MB attachment size limit, Google Drive offers you a solution for sharing your large files. Open a new or existing message in Gmail. Click the "Insert Files using Drive" button, resembling the Google Drive logo next to the paperclip, at the bottom of your message. Click to select the files you want to insert, holding "Ctrl" to select multiple items. Click the "Insert" button. Links to your inserted files appear at the top of your message. If you send the email to a recipient, she can click the links to view your files.