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Email taking up my disk space

If you are using multiple devices to access your email and are continually reaching your disk quota you may need to look at how your email service is dealing with the mail.

PoP (Post Office Protocol)

In a POP system, you do a one-time download of your emails and their attachments to your computer.  Afterwards, when you open an email, you are opening it from your local computer. Through your email client (Outlook Thunderbird etc) you have the option of leaving a copy of your emails on the server permanently, or for a period of time, if you want to access them from a different device or email/webmail client.  You can find the settings for this in the 'Tools' tab on your email client. If you choose to leave a copy of your mails on the server, you must manage them separately directly on the server through your control panel to keep within your disk space quota.

PoP is a  perfectly fine as long as you use a single email client (device). However, confusion arises if you have multiple devices trying to collect email, because the set of messages tied to your account are likely to be different on different clients. If you don't "Leave Copy of Messages on Server," once the first client pulls emails down, the second client/device no longer has these emails available to pull down. And the ones you pulled down in your second client are not available for your first client to pull down the next time around. And even if you "Leave Copy of Messages on Server", if you move or delete emails on one client, they will not be reflected on the server or the other clients. Basically, with PoP, emails in your different email clients will be out of sync.

IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol)

IMAP is a two-way email management protocol with two-way syncing.  Any change you make in any of your email clients or devices with IMAP will synchronise with your account on the server and vice versa. This means an email read or deleted in your email client will also automatically be marked as read or deleted when you check your account later via webmail or on another email client/device (e.g., home computer). All actions on email folders and emails themselves (Move, Copy, Delete, Mark as Read, Flag) will be reflected across all email clients with the mail server. So no matter how you access your email, you will see the same email folders and emails, in the same state. Regardless of which client you performed the action.

When you use IMAP you are accessing all of your email folders and all emails (not just emails in your Inbox) on the email server.  IMAP does not simply pull down messages one-time from your mail server to your computer like POP3 does. You can think of an email client using IMAP as a window to your messages on the server. Although the messages appear on your computer while you work with them, they also remain on the email server. You can, however, choose to download the entire message with IMAP so that you can work with them offline.

A good housekeeping routine is advisable for your email accounts as the daily bombardment of spam etc soon fills disk space and costs money. You can keep this to a minimum by setting filters within your email client to automatically delete or file to local folders.  If you set up the same 'local folders' using the same email client on all devices you will be able to access the mail stored.

Remember that your 'sent folder' also takes up space and needs the same treatment as your 'in box'

If you have a business need or personal preference to keep emails then it is advisable to save them as PST files to your local hard disk or to our back up service.

Further help can be found

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