Like almost everyone else I know under the age of 50, I switched over to Gmail almost as soon as I tried it. But lately, my Gmail account has been having problems. For several weeks, it has had trouble loading. Almost every time I log in to my account, I have to refresh the page before it loads.

Then, this weekend, my husband noticed a problem that was slightly more insidious. We were both logged on, and next to my name in his contact list, there appeared a photo. But I have never uploaded a photo to my Gmail account.

Luckily, it was just a picture of the two of us smiling into our webcam. But if photos are uploading themselves randomly to my Gmail account, I figured, it could happen with any photo. I removed the photo ... and a few hours later, it was up there again. I removed it a second time, and it reappeared again a couple days later.

I talked to a Google spokesman, who said archiving some of my messages might speed up load times. That seems odd, since I'm only using 18% of my available account space, but I'm willing to give it a try.

They were unsure why that photo kept posting itself to my account, but it may have something to do with the iChat account on my new Mac. It's possible I unwittingly selected this photo to accompany my iChat profile ... but I didn't do it on purpose. And I'm not sure why the photo keeps coming back, even after I specifically delete it from Gmail.

Here's the official statement from Google: "We give our users control over setting their Gmail / Google Talk profile photos. Gmail can't pull a profile photo from your computer; you must actively choose to upload a photo (though giving your Gmail password to third-party software may allow it to update your profile photo as well)."

Has anyone else had a similar problem with Gmail? How did you fix it?