Email - Tips For Managing Email

One of the most common questions we are asked at Virtualtech is "How much space do I have for email?", followed by "Can I get more space?"

A quick explanation of IMAP mail

The IMAP protocol is a wonderful thing. Unlike the old POP3 standard, all mail you send and receive "lives" on the Virtualtech mailserver until deleted. This makes your life easier, because it doesn't matter whether you are using your desktop computer, your laptop, your iPhone, your tablet... all your mail is available to you on each device.

However, because of this very thing, it also requires a bit of responsibility. Think about it. When you send a message from your computer, a copy remains on the server. When you email a photo from your phone to someone, a copy remains on the server. And it goes on.

As you can imagine, this all takes space. We've all run into issues with not having a large enough hard drive, requiring us to upgrade to get more space.

"OK, so how can I manage this so I don't run out of space?"

Well, simply put, the easiest way is to delete messages you don't need any more. While it seems obvious, I have seen countless examples of clients who never delete anything from their Inbox, with tens of thousands of messages building up in there. When you delete a message, it moves to the "Trash" folder (it doesn't immediately get deleted) so that you can retrieve it if you change your mind. Messages sent to the Trash folder remain there for a period of 7 days from the date of deletion from your Inbox, and then are automatically deleted from your account. See, we made that part easy for you.

Another culprit is the "Sent" folder. Remember, every time you send a message, a copy remains in your "Sent" folder. This allows you to retrieve it from multiple devices. However, they do build up over time. And, in this day and age where we are constantly taking photos with our smartphones and emailing them to people, the space gets eaten up fast. Today's high resolution cameras take beautiful photos, which are HUGE in filesize. And... if you send that same message to several people, it's possible that you may have several copies of that beautiful photo stored in your "Sent" folder.

If you don't need a record of sending a photo, go ahead and delete the message from your "Sent" folder... your original copy of the photo is still stored on your phone.

"I deleted all this stuff, but I still have a lot of email that I need to keep!"

OK, so you've done all this and you still have a lot of email you want to keep track of. Understandable. I (Mike) actually have a copy of every non-junk email I have sent and received over the last 15 years. However, I take steps to make sure that these messages aren't taking up server space.

The trick to this is to move the messages off of the server and store them on your computer. If you are using a desktop client such as Mozilla Thunderbird, Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail, Windows Mail, etc., it's actually quite easy. The key is to set up folders... not within your email account, but in a separate place within your email program.

Using Mozilla Thunderbird (our preferred email program) as an example, if you were to look at the left pane of your screen (where you see your Inbox, Sent, Trash, etc. folders) you will see, below them, a menu item titled "Local Folders". Right-click on "Local Folders" and you can create folders within. I actually have a folder created for each of our clients, or you could just create a folder called "Old" or "Archive" or whatever.

Once you've created a folder, you can simply drag a message from your Inbox into the folder you created. Doing so will create a copy on your computer, in that folder, and also remove it from the server. In addition to helping you with organization (in my example, I drag all messages both from a client and also to that same client into a folder with their name) it also cleans up your account on our server.

The disadvantage of this is that these messages, once moved to "Local Folders" will no longer be available to you on any device other than the computer you stored them on. But... do you really need to access two year old messages on your phone? Only you can answer that.

Depending on the email program you are using, the option may not be called "Local Folders", but all the progams have a similar functionality (Outlook calls them "Personal Folders", while Apple Mail allows you to create a "New Mailbox" that gives the option to store the mail "On My Mac". By doing this, you keep your account clean on our server, you won't run out of space, and also make it really easy to find that email you KNOW you sent to someone three years ago.

Ready to set up your computer/phone?

For specific, step by step instructions on setup of each program/device, please enter your name, your email address, select the client/device, and click "Go!". If the program you wish to use is not listed, please select "Other".

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