Make taking out the email trash your New Year's resolution

3rd January 2013


There are plenty of email users, business and personal, who think moving an old message into their trash or deleted items folder deletes it from their mailbox. Sadly it doesn't. Putting an email in the trash folder is akin to putting paper in the waste-bin at home and then leaving it in there forever.

A recent survey of hosted business email customers showed one-third had more than 1,000 items in their deleted items folder. Leaving so many undeleted emails can impact on the performance of an email account; slowing down access and using up mailbox storage space.

Anthony Metcalf, Senior NOC Engineer at Simply Mail Solutions said,

"If we receive customer queries from people struggling with a slow mailbox the first thing we ask them to do is empty their deleted items folder. Once that's done it usually solves the problem and they are happy again."

Many users leave email in their trash in case they need it later. However this is not the best way of keeping emails safe for future use. It's easy to hit 'empty trash' in error and lose all those stored messages. Also mobiles and tablets are limited in how many messages from a folder they download, so an over-full trash means not all the messages stored are displayed.

The right way to store emails

Business email messages that need to be kept should not be left in the deleted items folder; where they could create performance issues, take up mailbox space and risk being accidentally deleted.

Instead people should take advantage of email archiving to provide long-term email storage. Archiving can be done using a desktop email app (such as Microsoft Outlook - available free with Hosted Microsoft Exchange Classic) or through an online service which automatically stores messages as they are sent or received by the mail server.

A desktop email archiving programme means copies of messages are kept on hard drive of the computer the email app is running on. The benefit of this is quick access to those messages from within the email app, at the cost of not being able to read archived messages on mobiles and tablets (as the archive isn't synced with the mail server).

Desktop archiving also requires the user to specify when archiving is to take place, with most people using auto-archiving rules to automatically store emails over 30 days old. Online archiving avoids the need for manual archiving by automatically storing a copy of every email sent and received.

This means even if an email is deleted a copy is always available in the archive. The issue of access to archived messages via a mobile or tablet is resolved through offering a web interface, with the option of resending individual emails to the inbox.

Start fresh

Keeping a tight rein on the deleted items folder should be every email user's resolution. It helps speed up email access for both desktop and mobile apps and prevents mailbox storage space being eaten up by unwanted emails.

Users who need to keep emails long-term should use email archiving to keep individual messages safe for later use. With online archiving providing the best solution when emails need to be retrieved across different both desktop and mobile platforms.

Note: The Simply Mail Solutions survey quoted in the article was conducted on a random sample of 300 customers.

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