My POP3/IMAP mailbox is full - what do I do now ?

Your POP3 mailbox has a defined quota that may depend on your hosting plan and also on your control panel settings. This quota determines the maximum amount of email that is allowed to stay in your POP3 mailbox at any one time. If your mailbox is full, you cannot receive any more messages until you delete some messages. Please note that this setting does not limit the amount of email you can download or the amount of email your can have in your PC's inbox - that is limited only by available disk space on your PC. There are several reasons you may receive a warning that a mailbox is full:

Your PC email client is set to leave copies of all messages on the server. 
The usual setting for your email program (e.g. Outlook) is to delete emails from your mailbox once you have downloaded them to your PC. However in some situations, your email software may be set so that messages are not immediately deleted. This is sometimes done when using a mobile device such as Blackberry or iPhone, when you have a second PC that also receives your email, or if you want to leave messages on the server so that you can access them via webmail. A common mistake is to configure your email client to leave messages indefinitely on the server and never delete them. This will cause emails to build up and fill your mailbox. We recommend that you set your email client to leave messages on the server for as short a duration as possible (generally one to ten days is suifficient for mobile devices).

You only use webmail to access you email.
In this event, you will have to manage the space in your mailbox yourself. Remember to remove unnecessary emails as soon as possible. If you use folders to store your messages, purge older emails from these frequently also. When you delete a message, it is not removed immediately, instead it is moved into the Trash folder. Messages are only removed from permanent storage (and space freed up) when you empty your Trash, so do this frequently. When your mailbox is very full, you may find that messages do not appear to delete properly. This is because there is no space to create a copy of the message in your Trash folder. In this case, you may permanently delete messages using the additional options at the bottom of the webmail screen.

You have set the quota on your mailbox too small.
When mailboxes are created in your control panel, you can select the mailbox quote to apply. This can be anything from 1MB up to the maximum allowed by your hosting package. If you think that your mailbox is particularly small, please contact the person who administers your account and ask them to check if they can raise your mailbox quota in the control panel.

You receive too many large messages at one time.
It is possible that someone send you several very large emails (such as ones containing very large attached documents or photos). This may cause your mailbox to become temporarily full. Download and/or delete the offending emails to free up mailbox quota. Ask the sender to compress attached files, or to optimize attached photos before sending. It also helps if you send several smaller messages rather than one large message. Remember also, that when an email program (such as Outlook) encodes an attahment for sending, the space required may be up to 50% larger than the attachment size - this is a limitation of email sending in general.

You receive a very large number of Spam messages.
Dealing with unsolicited email (spam) is always annoying. You can enable simple spam protection (spam assassin) in your control panel and this will allow you to tag or delete suspect messages. If you tag messages (default) you can configure rules in your email program to handle these by moving them to your junk folder, or deleting them. Generally, the inbuilt spam protection will remove 80-90% of blatant spam. If your spam problem is such that you are still overwhelmed by spam, consider upgrading to our professional level filtering which will block more than 99% of spam messages.

Using IMAP

If you have been accessing your email account using IMAP, then messages are being stored on the server rather than being downloaded and stored locally. Over time, the account will fill up as it has a finite capacity. If you are using IMAP you should regularly Archive your older messages and store on your computer. Archiving will remove the archived messages from the server, freeing up capacity again.

Archiving your IMAP email in Outlook.

To archive your email:

  • Click on the IMAP Inbox on your folder list.
  • Select "File" on menu and select "Archive"
  • Select "archive this folder and all subfolders"
    •  Choose a date that suits you, e.g. everything over 3 month old
    •  Select OK to archive

 Archiving will save to an archive folder which will appear in your folder list and will mark the archived messages for deletion from the remote server. 

Check the archive folder to ensure all files are successfully downloaded before using the PURGE command to wipe them from the remote server. This should be repeated whenever your remote folder is approaching its capacity limit.


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