For years, I’ve had two email addresses; the current job and the long-term personal one. The latter is unfortunately one of the world’s most public, appearing among other places on the front of the XML specification, and thus gets a lot of spam. I mean really a lot. Which was causing some pretty severe pain, but I’m using the Gmail dodge, and that helps quite a bit.

Mail client filtering these days is not too bad (except for the penny-stock scum) but still, the volume (via POP3) was causing problems. On the ISP side, if I went offline for a few days the mail spool would fill up and things would start bouncing. And on my laptop, everything would get irritatingly sluggish when all the spam was downloaded and filtered. Particularly if I’d been offline for a while, like say two hours.

I was thinking about changing ISPs and server-side filtering and IMAP and so on, and feeling grumpy about the work, so instead I just redirected all my personal email to my Gmail account (one tick-box at the ISP). It works pretty well.

The Gmail spam filter isn’t perfect but it’s not bad, and it all happens on some big data farm out there that Google’s paying for; the amount of data that gets pushed back and forth between my Mac and the Net has been slashed astoundingly, two or three orders of magnitude, I bet, if I measured it.

Above my inbox is sometimes a little one-liner text ad (can’t complain, somebody’s gotta be paying for this) and sometimes a little wee news snippet, apparently driven by a random number generator. Hey Google, both the ads and news need some work, I’ve never felt the slightest urge to click on either.

Also, it’s nice to have search that works; something about my mail backlog persistently blows up Spotlight.

One nice thing about Gmail is the keyboard shortcuts; my only real gripe is that there’s no shortcut for “delete”; I’m on all these nicely-archived mailing lists, for the 90% or so of the messages that I don’t care about, I just want to make ’em go away, why do I have to click on a button? There’s a GreaseMonkey plug-in for this, which might be enough to convert me from Camino to Firefox.

Amusingly, in a few weeks of doing this, with not that much archived, and letting Gmail erase the spam and trash after 30 days, I’m using 220MB, or, as they say “(8%) of your 2792 MB”. With that kind of volume, it’s astounding that the Internet is holding together at all. And, uh, 2792? Anyone have an explanation for that number? [Update: Check the comments, the 2792 number is explained repeatedly.]


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Sérgio (Dec 10 2006, at 11:47)

If you check again that number will be bigger. Your GMail inbox is constantly growing MB by MB :).


From: pwb (Dec 10 2006, at 12:06)

Check the Gmail home page and you'll see a little counter counting up Gmail-box space at a fairly slow but still impressive rate.


From: dave glasser (Dec 10 2006, at 12:10)

The capacity started at 2 gigs and has been growing continuously since then. On the login page it's even animated.


From: grant (Dec 10 2006, at 12:12)

The amount of space is kind of a gimmick. They have a constantly incrementing display of how much space you're allocated on the login page.


From: anjan bacchu (Dec 10 2006, at 12:21)

hi tim,

2792 MB -- gmail has a javascript app ticking away a few bytes every few seconds . From 2000 MB(2 GB), it's increased to 2792.

If you've visited home page, on the left side of the page, there's a line similar to this

"Oh, and you still have over 2792.973268 megabytes (and counting) of free storage."




From: Stephen Duncan Jr (Dec 10 2006, at 12:23)

If you sign out of Gmail, you'll see a constantly-increasing counter for how much space Gmail provides. So 2792 is just what it's up to currently; it'll be higher tomorrow.


From: James Brunskill (Dec 10 2006, at 12:42)

The amount of space assigned to GMail accounts has been steadily counting up for a long time. 2792MB is just how much was available at the time. Tomorrow it will probably be higher...

I have actually often found gmail ads to be more relevant than search ads. For example when I was talking to a college about purchasing a dedicated server I got a lot of interesting ads with great deals etc. I think I've probably clicked nearly as many gmail ads as search ads, which is saying something as I've only recently started using gmail in earnest...


From: Trevor Turk (Dec 10 2006, at 12:43)

I think the odd number for the Gmail storage limits is a result of that limit constantly increasing, as you can see at the bottom of the login page.


From: Paul Mendoza (Dec 10 2006, at 12:45)

I believe the weird storage value is changed based on the total available space on their servers divided by the number of users. It seems to vary at times.


From: stan (Dec 10 2006, at 12:51)

About the 2792 megabytes: This is a (quite clever, IMHO) marketing gag. They started out with 2000 MB when gmail launched, and have been incrementing it by a couple of bytes every second since then.

If you go to you can watch the counter ticking (under "don't throw anything away").


From: wka (Dec 10 2006, at 13:06)

> Hey Google, both the ads and news need some work, I’ve

> never felt the slightest urge to click on either.

You can customize the feeds used for the news snipped in "Web Clips" under "Settings". You can even turn it off. (Details: )

> And, uh, 2792? Anyone have an explanation for that number?

On the first anniversary of Gmail, Google not only doubled the Gmail inbox size limit, from 1GB to 2GB, they announced that the size limit would keep increasing. (Details: ) On the Gmail sign in screen, there is a javascript-based counter which displays the slowly-incrasing size.


From: John Dougan (Dec 10 2006, at 13:34)

The Gmail feature I love is the POP3 service...I can have them filter my email and I still get to read it offline on my laptop. And that way there are no ads.


From: Michele Campeotto (Dec 10 2006, at 13:42)

Tim, if you decide to switch to Firefox for that Greasemonkey script, you should definitely check this one too:


From: cooper (Dec 10 2006, at 16:01)

Speaking of Gmail shortcuts. The one that always gets me is CTRL+Enter. I feel like Kahn from King of the Hill:



From: Aristotle Pagaltzis (Dec 10 2006, at 17:18)

Is there an echo in here?!

(Heh, the unintended effects of comment moderation…)


From: Cedric (Dec 10 2006, at 21:24)

One way to solve your last problem (clogging your ISP inbox) is to move your domain to Google Apps for your Domain and let Gmail take the disk space hit...

And as a bonus, you get Calendar, Writely and Spreadsheet.




From: Smokey Ardisson (Dec 10 2006, at 21:39)

Perhaps that GreaseMonkey script will work with Geekmonkey?


From: Michael MacLeod (Dec 11 2006, at 01:14)

If I recall correctly, Gmail launched with one gig of stored (amusingly leaked on April 1st). Then, the following April fools day, the counter started going crazy. They bumped it to 2 gigs over the course of the day, then slowed the rate to what you see if you sit at the Gmail login page for a few minutes.


From: Sérgio N. (Dec 11 2006, at 03:59)

Dividing the current value on GMail's homepage by the value on the user inbox we get nearly 1,000,000. It seems incredibly low...


From: Peter (Dec 11 2006, at 11:21)

I'd have thought having ads that have no relevance to you was a good thing, since it suggests Big Brother Google does not have your personal profile comprehensively recorded.


From: John Ward (Dec 11 2006, at 12:26)

If you have admin access to the DNS records for your domain you can use Google Apps for Your Domain (GAFYD). This would eliminate the extra step of forwarding your mail to gmail.

We switched over and there's some instructions here:


From: David Dean (Dec 11 2006, at 15:40)

So there's an extra step you can use, which it kinda looks like you aren't.. so here it is, apologies for potential redundancy.

The holy grail of spam-free and easy-to-access email is:

ISP email -> Gmail -> ISP email

So set up another alias with your ISP, and then your incoming mail goes into the first account (and gets spam filtered) and then goes into your Gmail (and gets spam filtered) and then goes back into your ISP email account. My ISP supports IMAP (which Gmail doesnt) and the Gmail account in the middle archives everything I ever receive.


From: David Smith (Dec 11 2006, at 20:04)

I started using the GMail dodge on my alias a few weeks ago, and added my personal domain account a few days ago. I just log into my private account every few days to delete everything.

I would imagine that their spam filters have lots of fodder to chew on.


From: Derek K. Miller (Dec 13 2006, at 14:54)

I've had the same main email address now for slightly over ten years, and it's been on my website and in various other public locations almost that whole time, so I'm not sure if you get more or less spam than I do, Tim, but I still have a two-tier system: my filters, and the Gmail filters that mail (and some other stuff from other addresses) goes into. The combination is remarkably effective, although some still slips through every day.

Here's the nasty part, though. It is getting much, much worse, and I'm glad I have the filters to shield me from that. I do have to check the Pobox filter for false positives (I have it set pretty aggressively), and occasionally look at the Gmail bin too. The false-pos rate is pretty decent, and I'd be willing to lose what I do dredge out of it. For the past 30 days I have 26,000 or so spam messages in both bins, and fewer than a dozen false positives.

But 26,000 spam messages in a month? That's approaching 1000 each day. I used to <a href="">complain</a> because I thought 1000 *per month* was bad. Where will we be in another four years?


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