Gmail is one of the best Web-based mail services and has integrated other Google services like instant messaging and RSS readers. It is free for everyone. If you have a Gmail account, you can use it more than just emailing since Google is very generous and provides you with a huge 5GB of storage space. You can also use your Gmail storage as a virtual drive. This is a great service for teachers and students and they can use Gmail as a Web-based mail service as well as a virtual drive anywhere.
I have used two different utilities (Gmail Drive and Gspace) to access my Gmail storage as a virtual drive. Both work great for me. Gmail Drive is a free Shell Namespace Extension that creates a virtual file system on top of your Gmail account. GMail Drive enables you to access files stored on your Gmail account directly from Windows Explorer. It adds a drive icon to My Computer that allows you to access your storage space like any other folder. Also, you can upload files via drag and drop. GMail Drive is very easy to use. Unfortunately, it is available for Windows machines only.
Gspace is another utility that can help you use your online Gmail storage space as a Virtual drive. Gspace is a Firefox extension that requires running Firefox. Also, it a cross-platform plug-in that works on Linux and Mac, something that Gmail Drive does not. Once Gspace is installed on your Firefox browser, you can access Gspace via a toolbar button or from the menu bar that opens a new tab with an FTP-style interface. You can transfer files by highlighting them and selecting the directional arrow. Unfortunately, drag and drop is not available with Gspace.
Gspace allows for proxy authentication and secure HTTP and preserves long filenames. Also, you can auto-login your Gmail account for file transfers. If you have more than one Gmail accounts, Gspace allows you to switch between different Gmail accounts. Also, Gspace has an Inbox button so you can quickly jump back to the standard Gmail interface. Furthermore, Gspace supports different uses of the virtual drive such as Web-based MP3 player, and photo viewer.
Both Gspace and Gmail Drive let you keep track of your files from within Gmail via e-mails and attachments. The uploaded files appear in your Gmail Inbox as messages with the file attached. The messages have a special subject, so you can use the Gmail inbox tools to automatically move them to a separate folder. By creating an appropriate filter and folder, you can easily keep track of the files you have uploaded. But, deleting the file from Gspace also deletes the email.
Overall, both utilities work great for providing you a virtual drive. However, I prefer Gspace since it is far more robust than Gmail Drive. Besides, I am also a big fan of Firefox and I can access my Gmail online storage within the Firefox browser.