Google hack: Use Gmail as a Linux filesystem

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Outstanding Issues

At the time of this writing, there are some outstanding issues with GmailFS that you should be aware of:

  •  I don't recommend storing your only copy of anything important on GmailFS for the following two reasons:

    •  GmailFS is currently a 0.7 release and should be treated as such. You can depend on its being undependable.

    •  There's no cryptography involved, so all your files are stored in plain text on Google's Gmail servers. This will no doubt make some of you nervous.

  •  Performance is acceptable for uploading and downloading very large files (though it is obviously dependent on your having decent bandwidth). However, operations such as listing the contents of a large directory, which requires many round trips, are extremely slow. The poor performance here is largely independent of bandwidth and is related to having to grab entire messages instead of being able to use message summaries.

  •  I haven't done any testing where GmailFS opens the same file multiple times and performs subsequent operations on the file. I suspect it will behave badly.

If all of this doesn't dissuade you from giving GmailFS a whirl, have at it and enjoy. Just be sure to visit the GmailFS page to find out what's new and grab the latest instructions and code.

See Also

  •  There's a PHP utility to employ Gmail as a backup service.

  •  Gmail Drive Shell Extension (Windows only) wraps the GmailFS into a virtual filesystem that is visible as just another drive in Windows Explorer.

  •  Mac OS X (10.3 or above) users should check out the freely available gDisk that adds a Gmail-powered drive to your desktop.

This article is excerpted from Google Hacks, 3rd Edition, by Rael Dornfest, Paul Bausch and Tara Calishain, published August 2006 by O'Reilly Media Inc. Copyright 2006, 2005 and 2003, all rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

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