Email Maintenance

Why do I need to keep my Inbox clean ?

Jefferson Lab (JLab) email is based on files that run on Unix hosts.  Each folder, including your inbox, is nothing more than a text file.  As your inbox grows, this text file grows also.  Each time you get a message or read a message in your inbox, the mail servers need to read through this entire file.  There are some users that like to keep every message they have ever gotten in their inbox.  Some users have inboxes that are close to 2GB that have over 26 Million lines.  This puts an undue burden on the mail servers for performance as well as things like backups.  In addition, the mail servers operating system itself has a file size limit of 2GB, which means once your inbox goes over 2GB, messages to you will be returned and you will not see them.  This is a real problem.

How do I keep my Inbox clean ?

The first and easy approach should be to delete messages as you receive them and no longer truly need them.  You can also move messages out of your inbox and store them in folders.  Thunderbird users can easily create folders with the menu items (File -> New -> Folder ...).  After you create a new folder, you can drag messages out of your inbox into this new folder. If you are planning on moving a large number of messages, do it in stages.  Move 100 messages, then compact folders (see below) and then move another 100 messages and so forth until you are done.

Compacting Folders

Compacting folders should be done regularly.  You do this from the menu item (File -> Compact Folders).  When you move a message out of your inbox (either by deleting it or by moving it to a folder), the traces of the message in your inbox are not completely removed until you compact folders.

What about my Trash ?

You should empty your trash folders often also.  Like your inbox, your trash folder is just a text file.  The same hygiene that is required of inboxes is also required of Trash folders. So empty your trash frequently (File -> Empty Trash).

Mail Size Limitations

All mail messages that you send or receive are subject to an overall size limitation. All messages must be under 10MB in size. Under normal circumstances, this is not an issue. But when you attach files to mail messages, the size can grow very quickly. If a message you are sending is rejected for this reason, you will get an error saying so. If a message from off site is rejected, the sender will be notified (provided the sender's site email is configured properly).