I don't know why it's taken Google so long to do this, but finally, the company will sell you additional space for Gmail. For $20 a year, you can now buy 6 GB of hard drive room to use if your free Gmail space fills up. The capacity can also be used to house pictures you store on Google's Picasa Web Albums. You can buy even more space than 6 GB -- 25 GB for $75 a year, 100 GB for $250 per year, and 250 GB for $500 per year.
I've been using Gmail as my primary e-mail service since its debut in 2004; at the time, Google's free space seemed enough. (Gmail began with 1 GB of capacity, then switched to 2 GB, and now it continuously updates at a slow rate -- currently, it's at 2,887 MB.)
But it quickly filled up. Over the years, I've accumulated more than 24,000 unread messages in my mailbox (not counting 17,000 spam missives over the last month). Several times now, I've had to offload thousands of messages onto my desktop in order to avoid filling up Gmail. Right now, I'm at 91 percent -- and were it not for the new service, I would have to offload more messages in a month or so.
I'm not boasting about the size of my mailbox, by the way; this is just what happens when you follow Google's (very wise) advice -- never delete messages. Gmail has become my central repository for years of life and work, the one place I know I can find everything important (which is exactly why putting stuff on my home computer, which I likely won't be keeping for more than a couple years, is so irritating).
Not long ago the company put out Google Apps, a program that let you get a Gmail account with 10 GB of space for $50 a year. This looked to be a good solution, but then I discovered it doesn't work with existing Gmail accounts; you've got to migrate your mail over to the new Apps account.
The beauty of the new service is that you don't have to change a thing. Once you sign up, your existing Gmail account will use the capacity as overflow space. If the space fills up, Gmail starts storing your messages on the subscription plan.
Google's critics are pointing out that the plan is more expensive than some others -- Yahoo's e-mail service, for instance, offers unlimited space for free. But come on: Anyone who's hip to Gmail's amazing productivity tools would never consider Yahoo. Twenty dollars is not too much to pay for quality.
To buy more space for Gmail, go to your Google Account and scroll down to "Storage Space."
-- Farhad Manjoo