I’ve encountered more than a few clients now who have run into issues with their allocated mailbox space. Depending on your hosting provider, you could be provided with email storage from 250MB (very small) to anywhere up to 10GB. The more space we have, the more space we tend to use and so at some point in time you may find yourself out of storage space and then snowballing into the issue of no longer being able to receive incoming email.
If you are using Microsoft Outlook and accessing your email via a POP (Post Office Protocol) configuration then there are three main scenarios that could be in use.
- Microsoft Outlook downloads a copy of each email message whilst leaving the original copy on the email server. This option gives you the flexibility to be able to login to your email account via any Internet Browser and view, reply or forward your email messages. It also means you can have your email messages retrieved from your account from multiple locations E.g. work computer, smart phone, home computer etc. By leaving a copy on the email server, you are taking up storage space within your mailbox.
- Microsoft Outlook downloads a copy of each email message whilst leaving the original copy on the email server. After a set number of days, the copy from the email server is deleted. This option gives you the ability to login to your email account via any Internet Browser and view, reply or forward your email messages for a set number of days only.
- Microsoft Outlook downloads the original email message and permanently removes it from the email server. Using this option means that once the email message has been downloaded to Microsoft Outlook, you will no longer be able to access it via an Internet Browser, smart phone or other computer.
If you are using method 1 above, then you are able to change the settings of Microsoft Outlook so that uses method 2 or 3 and assists in keeping your mailbox size in check. If you are accessing your email via IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) then see the chapter for IMAP configurations below.
Download email to Microsoft Outlook using a POP configuration.
- Open Microsoft Outlook (we are using Microsoft Outlook 2016)
- Click the File tab and go to Accounts Settings > Account Settings
- You will see a list of the email accounts set up on the computer
- Check the Type column and ensure you are using POP/SMTP for your account
- Select the account you wish to configure and click Change
- Click the More Settings button
- The Internet Email Settings dialog box will appear:
- Click the Advanced tab
- At the bottom of the options you will see a checkbox for Leave a copy of messages on the server. If this is selected then a copy of your email messages is being left on the server, which takes up space.
- You have two options here: 1) Deselect this option all together which will mean that you will no longer have a copy left on the server, or 2) leave it selected but enable the Remove from server after X days option.
- Once you have chosen the best option for your situation, click OK
- Deselect the option for Automatically test account settings when Next is clicked
- Click Next
- Click Finish
Clear Mailbox Space for an IMAP configured account
If you are accessing your email account via Microsoft Outlook and using the IMAP configuration type then you will need to address this in a different way. IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) allows you to access a synchronised version of your mailbox. When using IMAP you are connecting Microsoft Outlook to your email server directly so any changes you make within Microsoft Outlook are synchronised to your webmail version also. If you delete an item in Microsoft Outlook, it will be placed into the Deleted Items folder. Although it is technically “deleted”, it still takes up space while it is being held in the Deleted Items folder.
To free up mailbox space using IMAP you must delete items where possible, including the Junk Mail folder but then also ensure you empty the Deleted Items folder to purge those items. Once you have removed unwanted items, you must ensure that your local Microsoft Outlook synchronises back to the main email server so that the changes you have made are then replicated onto your live email account.
To empty the Deleted Items folder and synchronise your account:
- Right mouse click on the Deleted Items folder
- Select Empty Folder from the menu
- Click the Folder tab from the Ribbon
- Click Update Folder List
- Your folders should now be synchronised
- Send yourself, or have a colleague send you a test message to check you are now receiving email messages.
If you are still receiving notifications that your mailbox is full then there may be a communication issue between Microsoft Outlook and your email server. The quickest way around this is to log into your email account via a web browser and delete/clean up your email messages via the webmail login. Check with your email hosting provider for login details on how to do this.
I hope this post has helped to solve some issues with your mailbox storage. If you have any questions please let me know. Have a great week. 🙂