Deleting Email

Email takes up very little space, so you should saveall of your email.

You can delete any email that you really don’t want, usually by selecting it and pressing the Del key. However, in general, you should never delete an email. Once an email is deleted you can never retrieve it, but today’s computers have so much disk space that you should be able to file and save your messages forever. Taking conservative figures, if you received 10 emails a day, on average each a full 2000 characters (bytes) in size, it would take 137 years of continuous use to fill up a one gigabyte disk.

1,000,000,000 / ( 365 * 10 * 2000 ) = 137

Your actual email requirements will likely use up less space. Attachments are stored in separate folders, and don’t count against your email message storage space.

Every rule of thumb has an exception: one good reason you might want to delete a message would be if you sent a very long message, like a 100 page text file (perhaps a newsletter or business document) inline to the actual body of an email to several people, taking up several hundred kilobytes of mailbox space all at once. In this case, you might want to arrange it so that you can keep your personal email text sent to each person, but delete the longer message, as follows:

  • First, send people an email that says hi and tells them that you are about to send them a longer message in the next email, tells them what the message is about, etc.
  • Then send them a second email with the actual newsletter or other long document.
  • Then delete the second email with the long message from your Outbox, keeping the first email.

This approach is useful to the recipients as well, since they may want to copy the longer message text into a word processing document and then delete your second email, but keep your first email with your greeting and other information.

There have also been some efforts at creating self-deleting email, by use of email expires headers and through use of email encryption, but they have not so far gained widespread use.