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Is your email box full? It's time to tidy up

Do you have hundreds or even thousands of unread emails sitting in your inbox? Do you find yourself hovering over that delete button, wondering if you should keep an email 'just in case'? If your email box is well on the way to being full, you won't be able to receive any more emails and you could also be breaking the law. We had a chat with Support Operations Manager Dave Park about why it's time to tidy up your email.

How do email boxes get full?

'It's really important to understand that with email boxes, you don't get an unlimited amount of storage space,' says Dave. 'With Microsoft 365 for example, the standard email box is 50GB - but it completely depends on the types of emails you're receiving as to how quickly that will fill up. There's no way really of saying how big a general email is, its just understanding which email you need to keep, and which you don't.'

Dave says that there are a number of reasons that email boxes can fill up, ' If you read an email and don't consider whether it needs to kept or deleted, and it stays in your inbox, that's taking up space. If you do that a couple of hundred or even thousand times over, then it adds up very quickly. If you're subscribed to email newsletters that you delete without reading, they go to the Deleted Items. If you never empty the Deleted Items folder, that email is still using the same amount of space - its just in a different folder.'

'Then on top of all this, you have the GDPR implications,' says Dave. 'Under GDPR,  you're not permitted to retain personal data for longer than you need it. But if people have email conversations sitting in their inboxes from years ago, there's a good chance that they aren't following GDPR guidelines.'

What happens when the email box is full?

'On Microsoft 365, when the email box reaches 95% capacity, the user is notified,' says Dave. 'At that point, usually people start to delete emails. The difficulty comes with a feature of Microsoft 365, which is Deleted Item Retention. This tool essentially 'keeps' deleted emails for 30 days, so that if you accidentally delete something you can recover it again easily.'

'The problem is, when you reach 95% capacity, and you're deleting emails on mass to try to clear some space, with Microsoft 365 the email is still recoverable for 30 days. So as far as Microsoft is concerned, all the emails you're deleting are still recoverable and therefore still form part of your quota. In this case, IT support engineers have to get involved and figure out a work around, and it's quite tricky.'

'Ultimately, as soon as your email box is full, you aren't able to receive emails any more. Companies then can end up paying more for a bigger inbox, even though it's more of a user issue than a space issue. For SMEs, to suddenly have an increase to their email costs can be an expensive prospect.'

What can users do to tidy up their email?

Dave says that many people don't organise their emails well, 'Setting up folders for different emails is a really good way of managing your inbox. If you use your inbox as a bucket, and have every email fall into that bucket, its incredibly difficult to sort through. If you can get into the habit of sending an email to a folder after you've read it, it's much easier to find and delete if you need to.'

Dave also recommends archiving, 'On Microsoft 365, each user is given 50GB of live storage (which is your main email inbox) and 50GB of archive storage.  If you think of your email inbox as a filing cabinet sitting in your office, archiving is another filing cabinet that is sitting in another building.'

'Archiving is a really useful way of filing away emails that you might need for later, whilst also making use of all the space that Microsoft 365 gives users. With Microsoft 365, you can even set up policies for your email to follow; for example, once an email gets to a certain age, it is archived automatically.'

Get into the habit of sorting your emails, unsubscribing from junk, archiving where you can, deleting emails you don't need and emptying your Deleted Items folder,' says Dave. 'A little bit of tidying, often enough, can go a long way.'

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