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Last post Author Topic: How much email do you keep…and why?  (Read 15659 times)

dspelley

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How much email do you keep…and why?
« on: February 01, 2008, 01:46:35 PM »
Over the last several weeks I’ve noticed several threads like these:

http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=11286.0

http://www.donationc...dex.php?topic=7563.0

http://www.donationc...dex.php?topic=7813.0

talking about email searching and archiving. I must admit to being stunned to see the magnitude of the email stores being discussed – tens of thousands of emails, multi-GB size mailboxes, archives and .pst files, email histories of 10 years or more, etc.

Perhaps it’s a stereotype of engineers (I’m a Chemical Engineer) that we can be packrats who don’t like to throw anything away that we think we might use again, but I guess I must be an anomaly.

Partly because of document retention policies where I work (email Inboxes and Sent Items folders are purged every week of any email older than 60 days, and mailbox sizes are limited to 200 MB), my Inbox is pretty lean. Right now my workplace Inbox has about 25 items and my total mailbox (all folders) is about 80 MB including attachments. My home mailbox is similar – I probably have about 15-20 messages in my Inbox with fewer than 50 messages in other folders.

My wife, on the other hand, has messages from last summer reminding us to send bathing suits with our girls for their Girl Scout swim party!

So I’m a little curious to hear why people keep all the email they do, how frequently they actually search or otherwise access archived email, and how they decide what to keep. For those that may have business reasons for keeping email, do they ever have concerns that they’ve kept too much (i.e., stuff that would turn up during a “discovery” process in litigation?)

I must admit that I do cut-and-paste bits of information into Evernote or into Copernic-searchable files, but email for me is a pretty transient thing.

We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on.
--- Richard Feynman (1918-1988)

gjehle

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2008, 02:03:18 PM »
i don't know about you, but if you work at a company where a lot of communication is done by mail
or in general, when you tell people stuff by mail or get told. no matter what.

you keep your mail.
all of it.

it's called 'cover your ass'.

on a side note, i even keep a lot of my spam to teach my filters

Deozaan

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2008, 02:30:26 PM »
I used to keep a lot of e-mail but also delete a lot. Then I got Gmail. Now I archive everything except spam and the occasional stupid chain e-mail that comes my way.

I have two Gmail accounts now, but the one I've had the longest (back when invites were still rare) is only at 19% storage capacity. The one I use most often these days is only at 1% of capacity.

My inbox is tidy because I only keep a few in the inbox, but nearly everything else goes to the archive.

EDIT: As to why? Um... Not really sure. Most of it I could do without, but I have to tell you it has been very helpful when a year and a half later I vaguely remember an e-mail conversation I had with someone about some topic (such as coding) that I'm suddenly very interested in remembering. A quick Gmail search or two and I've found it. It's very, very useful when you need it.

« Last Edit: February 01, 2008, 02:36:39 PM by Deozaan »

nosh

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2008, 02:31:04 PM »
I keep all boxes completely empty - might move a message or two to drafts once in a while so I can deal with them properly later but that's about it.

dspelley

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2008, 02:37:59 PM »
I'm sure there's a lot of CYA at our place too, but people would have to print out emails and keep them in a hardcopy file. Our SysAdmins run jobs every Sunday night that purge email older than 60 days from our mailboxes (for a week or so there is a way to retrieve stuff that should have been saved for coporate reasons). Outlook archiving is also deactivated.

Apart from the storage issues (we have many thousands of Outlook users), the main reasons are compliance with corporate document retention policies.
We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on.
--- Richard Feynman (1918-1988)

Deozaan

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2008, 02:40:30 PM »
Maybe I should also clarify that my description of my e-mail retention behaviors are for my personal e-mails, not business correspondence.


tamasd

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2008, 02:51:26 PM »
I got around 1 GB. Most of it is discussion groups - I keep 99% of those for future reference and search or research.
Looking for to have the In box as clean as possible, but the other folders are there just for the storage.
The non-discussion groups email gets only searched rarely (past purchases, lost contact info, ...).
I have moved away from using my mail clients native search function over to a specialized indexing software.
That's for personal email.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2008, 02:56:38 PM by tamasd »

iphigenie

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2008, 03:21:49 PM »
I have private email going back to before 2000 - although I purge a lot of the "unimportant" messages and only keep messages to/from friends, orders, software registration, travel confirmation.

All the private stuff I migrated to my new IMAP service, plus I have all the emails of the company I ran for 5 years stashed in a set of pocomail files, although i think in a year or two I will can most of those.

At work I have a method where the inbox gets cleared, messages tagged and filed, things flagged for action - I delete a lot of the "furniture" email, plus i remove attachments, so I can keep it all on the exchange server (i dont trust local outlook files!)

Renegade

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2008, 04:29:47 PM »
I delete spam but keep everything else. Consequently, I have multi-GB archives of email.

This is a real problem though. Outlook simply can't handle large volumes of email (I use Outlook at the office). Thunderbird craps out with critical bugs that will essentially make all of your email useless garbage after so long.

I'm back to using Outlook Express at home because it is faster & more reliable than anything else I've tried.

What I would really like to see is an email client that had a much more intelligent design than "flat files" to store email. Something with an RDBMS behind it would be perfect.

This is one of those things that I really wish that I had time to build myself... However, building an email client is very time consuming because there are so many legacy issues that you need to support. Not fun. Fun to program and play with, but not fun for consuming large amounts of time. :(

Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Mark0

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2008, 04:35:26 PM »
I always used to keep all the email I had. Save for some sporadic pseudo catastrophic events (the ones that teach you to backup things), I has followed that ideal.
Now that I'm used to Gmail, it doesn't even be something I have to think about.
I just try to get my Inbox/unread folder clean, and archive mail as I deal with it. Sometimes it's more easy to say that than do that, off course! :)

Bye!

CodeTRUCKER

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2008, 06:12:08 PM »
The reason I keep my emails is very simple... I can aways throw it away later, but once it's gone....

superboyac

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2008, 09:02:10 PM »
I consider emails as part of my personal history.  Do you throw letters away?  And since it's so easy to just keep digital information on a hard drive, I don't see why you wouldn't keep emails.  I've kept all of my emails since 1996.  It's almost like a diary...it's a history of your life.  Your kids can one day read what you were like 30 years ago (that might be good or bad!  depending on the content).  That's why I hate webmail, you don't have as much control as to how to store your emails.

For those of you that cherish this aspect of email, check out the software Mailbag Assistant (by fookes).  It lets you extract emails in a powerful way and you can present them in convenient formats (webpages, text files, etc.).  I've never really used it heavily, but it could be useful in the future, I'm thinking.

Renegade

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2008, 09:18:17 PM »
UPDATE:

I've finally switched my primary machine (mostly) over to my Vista box and have Windows Mail running there. Not too sure how it will pan out, but it seems good for now.

I forgot to mention WHY I keep email -- Mostly because I can refer to it later. Some email I must have to refer to later, but a lot doesn't matter. That's just me being a packrat and paranoid (i.e. I *MIGHT* need to refer to it later...) :)
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

chunkit

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2008, 01:01:02 PM »
I consider emails as part of my personal history.  Do you throw letters away?  And since it's so easy to just keep digital information on a hard drive, I don't see why you wouldn't keep emails.  I've kept all of my emails since 1996.  It's almost like a diary...it's a history of your life.  Your kids can one day read what you were like 30 years ago (that might be good or bad!  depending on the content).  That's why I hate webmail, you don't have as much control as to how to store your emails.

For those of you that cherish this aspect of email, check out the software Mailbag Assistant (by fookes).  It lets you extract emails in a powerful way and you can present them in convenient formats (webpages, text files, etc.).  I've never really used it heavily, but it could be useful in the future, I'm thinking.
I guess I feel the same way as you. When I look at past mails I can relive the different periods of my life.

Right now I'm using pop3 so I download my mails. It's a little troublesome as I'm having trouble migrating my email to another computer. Perhaps I should start clearing my old emails.

Anyway I just registered to make this post. :P

jgpaiva

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2008, 01:05:00 PM »
Anyway I just registered to make this post. :P
And you did very well!!

Welcome to DC ;)

MrCrispy

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2008, 08:27:40 PM »
I long ago switched to gmail for all my email. I have a few other accounts which I don't use anymore and I've set them up to fwd to gmail.

All gmail is sync'd using Imap for local backup and offline access. I never delete email - there is no reason to. Saving a measly few MB is not worth losing 1000's of emails.

Armando

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2008, 11:30:07 PM »
I consider emails as part of my personal history.  Do you throw letters away?  And since it's so easy to just keep digital information on a hard drive, I don't see why you wouldn't keep emails.  I've kept all of my emails since 1996.  It's almost like a diary...it's a history of your life.  Your kids can one day read what you were like 30 years ago (that might be good or bad!  depending on the content).  That's why I hate webmail, you don't have as much control as to how to store your emails.

For those of you that cherish this aspect of email, check out the software Mailbag Assistant (by fookes).  It lets you extract emails in a powerful way and you can present them in convenient formats (webpages, text files, etc.).  I've never really used it heavily, but it could be useful in the future, I'm thinking.

Exactly the same here.  :) And, like you , I dislike webmail. It's just lost.

A seemingly nice feature of Mailbag Assistant is the ability to "export your e-mails as EML files, Web pages, or other formats based on customizable templates". That would eliminate the Outlook database problem (as mentioned by Renegade) as each email can be stored as a separate file in a folder. Edit : and, BTW, OutlookSpiller seems like a good app to do just that.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2008, 11:32:56 PM by Armando »

iphigenie

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #17 on: February 04, 2008, 07:29:00 AM »
I pretty much keep all relevant email

What I get rid of almost immediately:
* offers and most newsletter
* most shopping order confirmations (most shops send 4-5 per order)
* "figuring things out" emails - the emails going back and forth while hammering out what to do next Sunday etc.

What I keep, Personal email:
* messages from friends and family
* 1 shopping receipt per order for a year, later I keep only the ones about software or expensive items (i also clone that to lwa + for software i save a text copy for the "must reinstall system, what now?" CD along with drivers and installation files)
* a small set of newsletters with useful content for reference (i also clone some of that to lwa)
* travel order confirmations. Helps me remember "when did I go...."

Work email:
* all email to/from clients which is relevant (i.e. not the 3 word emails saying "see you then" or "ok ill do that")
* key internal emails and announcements
* emails about any difficult

It is cheap to store email (if you clear big attachments) and that means you can keep it forever

I lost quite a lot of email dating before 1999 when upgrading/swapping at some point. My email before was in a (wonderful product!!!) called "post road mailer" and I gave up on migrating much of that. Dont even know where the files are now.

This is one issue I avoid by being on imap now, I can point a blank email client to the server and tada!

superboyac

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #18 on: February 04, 2008, 10:55:22 AM »
Right now I'm using pop3 so I download my mails. It's a little troublesome as I'm having trouble migrating my email to another computer. Perhaps I should start clearing my old emails.
I'm not sure exactly what problems you're having, but there's another software by fookes (makers of mailbag assistant) called Aid4Mail that is really great for migrating between email clients.  Depending on what you're migrating from/to I know it can be a real pain.  When I was doing it (fortunately) from Pegasus to the Bat, it was easy because the authors of both programs were conscientious enough to accommodate such migration.  But if it involves Outlook, you will probably have to jump through some hoops, and it might not even be possible without aid4mail.  Outlook should be ashamed of this also.  I was really pissed about Outlook when I was trying to migrate my dad's Eudora stuff into Outlook, and there just wasn't an easy way to do it.  I don't understand why Outlook wouldn't make it easy, they stand to lose nothing.

iphigenie

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2008, 03:10:24 AM »
Actually the email I am having trouble searching is the email i have accumulated on my new job, 10 months only, and that is in Outlook/Exchange - and it is very slow to search/find things. So not a case of keeping too much too long, just less than a year's worth of project emails.  :-\

MikeMcLoughlin

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #20 on: February 05, 2008, 03:59:52 AM »
iphigenie

Have you tried LookOut? I use it and it's excellent for searching Outlook. Not sure how it would work with Exchange though, I don't know enough about this.

http://www.snapfiles...com/get/lookout.html

Darwin

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #21 on: February 05, 2008, 07:57:56 AM »
+1 for Lookout. I've tried just about every desktop indexer there is and the only reliable, fast, way to search Outlook I have found is Lookout. M$ bought them out a few years ago and developed Windows Desktop Search from it. At some point in the past 2 years they stopped hosting the installer for it - all "official" links to it now point to the homepage for WDS.

Thanks for the link, MikeMcLoughlin - I have an installer I archived years ago, but it's nice to know that it's still floating around if I need it  :Thmbsup:
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

iphigenie

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #22 on: February 05, 2008, 09:59:26 AM »
I tried a few desktop indexers and they cant deal with exchange even when they say they do. Will try lookout, thanks for the tip  :Thmbsup:

Eye-R

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #23 on: February 05, 2008, 12:53:15 PM »
All of it.
Sawted owt intu applicable folders of course.

Yahell bin dumb 'nuff tu tell me that Eye-R gots unlimited storage - So i'm trying tu fill it. I reguarly upload software, musix, films ect too...

Besides, archives have they place. Either as evidence tu be used in the future or, as a previous post suggested, for the nostalgia factor.

chunkit

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Re: How much email do you keep…and why?
« Reply #24 on: February 05, 2008, 01:58:59 PM »
I long ago switched to gmail for all my email. I have a few other accounts which I don't use anymore and I've set them up to fwd to gmail.

All gmail is sync'd using Imap for local backup and offline access. I never delete email - there is no reason to. Saving a measly few MB is not worth losing 1000's of emails.
yup, 'bout time to switch to gmail for the imap. my school email account's imap and i'm kinda hooked on it for its ease of using with multiple workstations.
Right now I'm using pop3 so I download my mails. It's a little troublesome as I'm having trouble migrating my email to another computer. Perhaps I should start clearing my old emails.
I'm not sure exactly what problems you're having, but there's another software by fookes (makers of mailbag assistant) called Aid4Mail that is really great for migrating between email clients.  Depending on what you're migrating from/to I know it can be a real pain.  When I was doing it (fortunately) from Pegasus to the Bat, it was easy because the authors of both programs were conscientious enough to accommodate such migration.  But if it involves Outlook, you will probably have to jump through some hoops, and it might not even be possible without aid4mail.  Outlook should be ashamed of this also.  I was really pissed about Outlook when I was trying to migrate my dad's Eudora stuff into Outlook, and there just wasn't an easy way to do it.  I don't understand why Outlook wouldn't make it easy, they stand to lose nothing.
thanks for your suggestion. it's only because i'm trying to migrate to thunderbird on linux from outlook on windows. thunderbird in linux only allows me to import from "communicator 4.x" and i've tried an extension which supposedly allows me to import from a .pst file but it just doesn't seem to work for me. so i can't effectively import anything directly into thunderbird.

anyway i've thought of an ideal solution. i'll add gmail imap to my outlook and copy and paste my old inbox, sent etc to gmail to archive them, then start using gmail as my main email.