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Durham University

Computing and Information Services

Managing your mailbox

We all rely on email and as a result our mailboxes can fill up very quickly. We each have a responsibility to manage the size of our mailbox for a few very good reasons:

  • The law! Emails in your work inbox are classed as records and are subject to the Data Protection Act (1998) – depending on the content, every email should be deleted after a certain date
  • University policy. The records management policy for business email management requires that you:
    • Use email responsibly
    • Treat you emails as business records which could be subject to a Freedom of Information request at any point
    • Delete your emails at a suitable point as set out in the Records Retention Schedule
  • Managing your own work. A tidy inbox is an easy to manage inbox and you’re unlikely to be affected by space issues or difficulty finding that important message!

The default mailbox quota of 4GB will be more than enough for the great majority of us and there are a few easy steps that we can take to stop it growing out of control:

  • Delete: Do you really need to keep that email? Then consider deleting rather than filing it.
  • Archive: Your email client should have an archive option (for Outlook see our FAQ) – it’s very simple to set up auto-archiving and you can still easily look up your old emails
  • Remove email attachments: Is the file saved elsewhere? If not, consider doing so and if so, then remove it from the email – you don’t have to delete the whole email, just the attachment.
  • Send links rather than files: Increasingly we have the option to send a hyperlink to a file rather than the file itself. Alternatively could you direct a colleague to a file on your shared drive rather than creating an extra copy?
  • Keep it tidy: You can clean up your mailbox (in Microsoft Outlook, click File and look up your clean up tools – you can quickly empty your Junk and deleted items folders and also search for large emails which can be removed)