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Google glitch turns into terabyte of trouble

A bug in Google's test e-mail system, Gmail, temporarily gave some users one terabyte of free storage, fueling Internet speculation.
/ Source: Reuters

A "bug" in Google's test e-mail system, Gmail, temporarily gave some users one terabyte of free storage, 1000 times the one gigabyte the Web search company is currently offering to lure people away from rivals Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

A Google spokesman on Wednesday said the storage increase was the result of a "bug" and that the company was working to fix the glitch. He did not give additional details, but said Gmail, which is available through a limited test, currently offers one gigabyte of storage.

One terabyte is roughly the equivalent of 16 days of continuously running DVD movies.

The flap fueled rampant speculation in Web postings by technophiles, in part because it came on the heels of Tuesday's announcement that Web portal Lycos Europe had begun offering one gigabyte of storage to paid users. Gmail is covering the cost of its free e-mail service by serving ads based on the content in messages, a move that has sparked sharp criticism from privacy advocates.

Last week, Yahoo said it would soon increase storage for free users to 100 megabytes and give paying e-mail users "virtually unlimited" storage. Microsoft's MSN division, which operates the software company's Hotmail service, has not made any announcements regarding storage.