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How many emails do you keep?
Old 01-03-2008, 12:48 AM   #1
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How many emails do you keep?

I know this may be a silly question, but given it is the New Year and most people are trying to organize and reorganize themselves and their living spaces, I am curious as to what you consider average for you when it comes to opened emails not deleted; or unopened emails kept with the thought of going back and spending more time going through them. I find myself with nearly 500 on my email account. I keep thinking I'll delete them, but I always hesitate and they keep piling up.

Any suggestions for dealing with this problem and determining what stays and what goes?

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Old 01-03-2008, 12:59 AM   #2
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I think it's easiest to make a new folder for archive2007 and stuff everything in there. If you ever need them again you can go find them. If you don't they won't be clogging up your current inbox.
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Old 01-03-2008, 08:00 AM   #3
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I have about 70-80 in each of three email accounts. Once in a while I scroll through and delete most of what is piling up. Anything I think I should keep for the duration I archive. But I almost never access the archive so I question whether it is worth bothering.
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Old 01-03-2008, 08:14 AM   #4
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I delete spam without opening. I open all other e-mails immediately. I delete work e-mails that do not pertain to me or that I will not need, immediately after opening them.

I do not delete e-mails that I might need (at work) or want (from Frank and relatives, at home). I keep between five and ten thousand e-mails, and about 90% of those are work related on my computer at work.

Space is not often an issue, but if/when it is then I go through and delete some. I also do this on days like today, when many of my co-workers are out and I have a little spare time to go through them. With ER coming up in 674 days, I will need to get rid of a lot more of the work e-mails to be merciful towards whoever takes my position.
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Old 01-03-2008, 08:55 AM   #5
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I have hundreds in each of my home and work accounts. I have resolved to be better at dealing with emails in 2008 and have started going thru them each night.

My problem is I never respond to said emails, even when they are from friends, so I figured if I want to keep said friends I need to make more of an effort with email.
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Old 01-03-2008, 09:00 AM   #6
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I keep all non-spam emails for as long as I can.
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Old 01-03-2008, 09:11 AM   #7
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I keep hordes of emails for work. I try to delete the earlier ones in a thread if people include the previous text in an email. I use a search tool called X1 with Outlook that lets me search emails by any word or phrase, sender, receiver, subject, etc., and I'm well-known among my peers for being able to find details on a topic that came up two years ago. This has helped so many times that I keep anything I think might be useful.

Spam, stuff that doesn't pertain to me and never will, etc, I delete right away to keep it from building up.

Personal emails, only if I think I'll need it again. A long holiday email is worth keeping. "Do you want to see a movie on Friday?" is not, once you've replied. And I try to reply right away or flag those so I don't forget them. I also like to keep emails where people included a bunch of other email addresses, you never know when you might need to email that person directly and it's nice to have their email.

I've done the archive2007 type thing before and it works well, especially if you're the type that can remember things pretty well by year. I haven't done that since switching to Outlook, but that actually sounds like a good idea. I think I'll do that for all but 2007, there's too much carry over on recent stuff so I want to keep that in my inbox.
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Old 01-03-2008, 09:59 AM   #8
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I sometimes get up to 100 emails a day, most of them work related and many with multiple (large) attachments. I have developed a large system of "personal folders" at work. There must be about 40 of them. I empty my inbox at least daily and file the emails in the personal folders. My goal is to deal with them as they arise, or, when the thread is very active, to let the exchange play out, say my piece, and batch file them. When away from the office, I can access my inbox but not my personal folders, so that's the only time emails accumulate in my inbox. With the volume of emails I receive, that means I often exceed my storage limit after 3-5 days out of town. If that happens I will delete as much as possible and empty the trash daily. I also empty the junk mail and spam folders on a regular basis.

The personal folders are invaluable for future use, but of course, eventually everything becomes obsolete. Once a year or so I will open up each personal folder and delete all but the last six months or so, unless it's a "must keep" topic. I don't try to select individual old emails to delete as that would simply take too much time.

A CEO once told me that he used to sort all incoming information into what could be dealt with immediately and "pending". If there was no action on "pending" items after sixty days, out it went. That might be a bit risky. But a good springclean now and then is essential.
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Old 01-03-2008, 11:38 AM   #9
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At work, where I'm on a Unix system, I get 500-600 email messages a day and save them all. I have a couple of million messages saved by person (one file per person), although I do have a few generic categories such as "junk" and "misc". I use the old fashioned command-line "mail" utility so it is easy for me to search for information using Unix commands and standard file editors (e.g., grep, awk, vi, emacs). Yes, occasionally I have a need to find information from several years ago and I can usually locate it very quickly. We have very good spam filters at work so I don't get much in the way of spam, but I do get a lot (95%) of useless messages.

At home, on a PC, I simply archive the relatively small number of useful messages into a single folder and delete the rest.
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Old 01-03-2008, 12:53 PM   #10
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Hordes of email here too. They are sorted but I believe that I have one from 1995.
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Old 01-03-2008, 02:06 PM   #11
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at home, I get rid of most of them right away.

At work, I hang on to all of them for as long as possible (in other words, until the system forces me to make space).

Invaluable CYA materials -- I just this week rebuilt a communications history to protect myself from a salesperson who claimed I hadn't kept him informed.

Too bad for him, I had it in writing.
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Old 01-03-2008, 06:37 PM   #12
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I keep all work related emails at work. Makes it very easy to search and find something several months later. Delete most home emails after reading them.
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Old 01-04-2008, 01:19 AM   #13
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At work, they purge all emails after two years so that they will not be discoverable.
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Old 01-04-2008, 02:03 AM   #14
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For work I limit emails to 10-15 active or pending action, all others are deleted.

At home I useually read, reply, delete same day. This way when I check my emails they are all new.
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Old 01-04-2008, 07:24 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bssc View Post
At work, they purge all emails after two years so that they will not be discoverable.
Damn right. About six years ago, we got a big discovery request going back to the dawn of time. It turned out the email team had improperly kept weekly backup tapes going back for years. They had to mount them all and search for relevant messages. It was a major PITA.
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Old 01-04-2008, 09:31 AM   #16
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I have about 2800 split between gmail and hotmail.

I used to keep up with deleting messages until they started jacking up the storage space on the free email sites to GB levels. Now I figure by the time I no longer need them in 2-3 years, they'll be trimmed off the end. Or these guys will keep bumping the storage limits up and in 15 years I can go back and read some funny old emails from the old days.
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Old 01-04-2008, 06:53 PM   #17
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All of them. I keep all of them, except for obvious spam. I have tons of bacn though. Given how much space I have to store them, why wouldn't I? I suppose that it makes the ones I search for harder to find, but I'm really good at remembering the specific language used in them, so I have few problems.
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Old 01-04-2008, 07:19 PM   #18
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About this time every year I zip a copy of my mail directory, back it up off site, and delete the previous year's mail from the directory. I have a copy of everything going back to 1993. I hope to have some time when I am ER'd to go through it all and "organize". The same problem/solution with digital photos, keep everything, organize some other day...
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Old 01-05-2008, 05:12 PM   #19
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I've accumulated 5099 emails in gmail since I started using it in Jan, 2006. I never delete any, and gmail's search is good at finding things, so I don't need to organize them.

Of course, I average on seven emails per day, but I really like gmail.
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Old 01-06-2008, 12:02 AM   #20
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I delete as many emails as I can as quickly as I can. Probably have no more than about 50 in a Saved folder that contain informatiion I believe I will have to access from time to time. Ideally, I would have zero emails.
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