Google Apps Users Get Paid Cloud Storage Boost

Google has launched a new cloud storage service that gives Google Apps users extra storage capacity in many of its applications, but the additional cloud storage comes at a price and doesn't offer extra space for Gmail.

User Managed Storage from Google Apps is a service that lets Google Apps users buy additional storage space when they fill their allotted quota. Google said it will start rolling out User Managed Storage over the next few days to users of Google Apps accounts.

Google User Managed Storage will let Google Apps users buy extra storage in the cloud for Google Docs, Picasa Web Albums and photos from Blogger, Google Apps Product Manager Gaurav Jain wrote in a blog post launching Google User Managed Storage.

"Any of these products that is over its storage quota can use the extra storage on a first-come, first-served basis," Jain wrote.

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Along with Google Docs, User Managed Storage can be leveraged for Microsoft Office documents stored in the cloud via Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office, which Google launched last week, reigniting Google's continued back-and-fourth cloud computing battle with Microsoft.

According to Google, User Managed Storage costs $5 per year for 20 GB, $20 per year for 80 GB, $50 per year for 200 GB, $100 per year for 400 GB and $256 per year for 1 TB. Other storage tiers ranging from 2 TB to 8 TB are also available, and users can scale up to 16 TB of extra storage for a $4,096 annual fee.

Google Apps users can not pool or transfer User Managed Storage to other Google Apps accounts and it cannot be used for Gmail, Google said. Gmail accounts will stay capped at 25 GB for paid Google Apps and 7 GB for unpaid and educational accounts.

For Google Apps users, User Managed Storage is enabled or disabled by the domain administrator and end users purchase additional storage using a Google Checkout account at that domain. Google said data stored within User Managed Storage is subject to the same ownership policy as other data in the Google Apps account.

"Google does not own your data," Google said of the ownership policy. "When your organization gave you a Google Apps account, it did so with a particular agreement about whether the data in your account belongs to the organization or to you. (Each organization's policy is different.) Whatever policy is in place for your account applies equally to data in the extra storage."

Google bulking up its cloud storage capabilities comes as Google grapples with a sweeping Gmail e-mail outage that wiped out roughly 150,000 Gmail inboxes earlier this week. Gmail users said their e-mail inboxes, folders, contact lists and other data vanished and could not be found. Google is still working to restore Gmail accounts to all users. Google has apologized for the Gmail outage and said it was caused by a software bug. The company is continuing to restore accounts using data that was backed up to tapes.

Many Google Apps users expressed outrage that the Gmail e-mail service won't benefit from a paid storage bump from User Managed Storage.

"Why can't extra storage be used for Gmail?" wrote one Google Apps user who responded to Google's blog post. "I presume this also means Google Apps mail? I'm getting close to my 25 GB limit and I can't believe Google still doesn't have an option to expand the mailbox if I'm prepared to pay. What happened to the 'never delete anything' mantra?"