“You’re over your limit”

By | Dec 16, 2009

No, no, not your credit card.  You’re e-mail account!

We’ve all gotten the dreaded “You’re Over Your Limit” messages in our e-mail.  There’s no better way to ruin a good day than to realize you must suddenly drastically reduce the size of your e-mail (or worse yet, your boss’s).  You really only have two choices: delete or archive.

Deleting E-mail

This is not your preferred option.  Why?  Because more and more, courts are treating electronic documents the same as paper ones for legal purposes.  You’re probably thinking that you wouldn’t delete anything important.  But unfortunately, we often don’t know what is important until after the fact.  I keep all e-mail, including those annoying “me too” responses.   That “me too” could prove that someone had read the e-mail.  Your best bet is to just keep everything.  That means you really only have one alternative.

Archiving E-mail

When we talk about archiving e-mail in Microsoft Outlook, what we mean is moving the e-mail to a Personal File Folder, also referred to as a .pst file, because pst is the extension on the computer file.

There’s a few things you need to remember when working with .pst files.

  1. When you create a Personal File Folder, Windows will create it on your hard drive by default.  Most IT departments don’t run backups on individual computer hard drives, so if you have access to a private network drive that is regularly backed up, create your Personal File Folder there.  If your folder is already created, you can change it’s location by clicking “File” and then “Data File Management”.
  2. Personal File Folders do have size limits.  Folders created in Outlook 2002 and earlier have a size limit of only 2 gigabytes.  That may seem large at first glance, but if you frequently e-mail large files, you can fill that up in no time.  In Outlook 2003 and later, the file size limit was raised to 20 gigs.  So if you have some of these earlier file folders, export them to the newer file type to get more storage capacity.
  3. By default, Windows gives Personal File Folders the terribly descriptive name of “Personal File Folder”.  I recommend giving a name with a bit more meaning, especially since over time you are likely to have multiple folders in your archive.

Getting Your Inbox Size Down Fast

To get your Inbox size under control quickly, try these tips:

  • Sort your e-mail by size.  Move the largest e-mails to archive immediately.
  • Archive your “Sent Items” folder especially if you often send out large attachments.  These count against your mail account limits, and people often forget to check this folder.
  • Check for Sync Errors.  If your e-mail administrator has you on cached mode, you will likely have a folder for Sync Errors, which will contain a copy of every e-mail that was duplicated by a Sync error.  These files can be quite large.  However, you can’t find it in Mail mode.  Go to your Folder view in order to see the Sync folders and clear them out.
  • Don’t forget your Calendar items, Tasks, and Notes.  These also apply to your limit, so archiving old items can bring down your total size.

Manage Your Inbox Size with AutoArchive

Once you get your account (or more likely, your boss’s) out of the red zone, keep it down by using the AutoArchive function in Outlook.  When you set-up your AutoArchive functions, remember to click the button to “Apply these settings to all folders now”.  Folders are generally set to “D0 Not AutoArchive” by default, so you want to be sure to apply the AutoArchive to all folders.

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How Do You Manage?

How do you manage the size of your e-mail account?  Share your tips with all of us here!  Just leave a comment.  If you receive this by e-mail or RSS feed, you’ll need to click on the title to go to the web page to make and read comments.

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2 Comments so far
  1. Mary B (3 comments) February 1, 2010 9:13 am

    At our company, we use a program called Attachments Processor. It strips the attachments from all your emails and puts them in a designated folder on your hard drive, leaving a link to them on the email. It is transparent to the user, in that when you click on the link, it still opens up the attachement, the same as it would if it were still attached. Since it is generally the attachments that take up the most room, this frees up a lot of room on the Outlook account. You can also still forward an email with an attachment, as Attachments Processor will pop up a message saying that you have links attached to the email, and would you prefer to forward the actual files instead.
    In addition to that, I have Personal Folders set up where I put emails that I would not need to keep in the networked section of Outlook. These folders reside on my hard drive, and also do not count toward my total size limit.

  2. Jodith (189 comments) February 2, 2010 5:15 am

    Thanks for the comment, Mary. I haven’t heard of Attachments Processor. I need to go look it up. It sounds like a wonderful tool, especially for engineering type firms that regularly e-mail huge documents.

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