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If you’re getting warning messages that your mailbox is full, there may be a number of reasons. Read this FAQ to disagnose the reason and find out how to fix it or contact us.

Help, my mailbox is full

Created/Updated: by Graham Street

So, you’re getting warning messages that your mailbox is full?

Your mail account is part of the hosting we provide for your domain name. We set specific limits for the size of mailboxes and the size varies from person to person and company to company. We adjust mailbox sizes based on historical stats and the type and size of emails that our customers are getting. Your mailbox on the server only needs to be large enough to hold all the mail that’s queuing for you. Once you’ve read in your emails (from the server onto your computer) those emails should normally be automatically deleted from the server as they no longer need to be held there.

Why is this happening?

The setting that controls this is in your email program, and is referred to in various ways (on the different email programs). It will be in your mail settings for that account and is normally something like ‘retain messages on server’ and is set to a number of days. The value needs to be zero or a small number of days. All it does is control how much longer the emails stay on the server after you’ve read them to your computer. The value doesn’t affect the number of days that email queues before you read it.

There are very few reasons why the value needs to be set to anything other than zero or a small number of days. One would be the situation where you have more than one computer reading the same email account. In such a situation, you’d want to set the number of days on both computers to a few days. These would allow you time to read the emails onto both computers before they auto-delete from the server after the first computer has read them.

If you view your emails on a mobile device (phone, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, etc) then do this via the IMAP protocol if possible. Its either the default or you can choose this during the setup. Using IMAP you can view the emails that are queued, reply or delete them, and those that you leave will still be there for your computer to collect (via the POP protocol) when you return to the office or home. In such a setup, you’d still set the number of days retention, for the emails on the server, to a low value.

What if my mailbox actually fills up?

If you set the server retention period to a high value or to ‘never’ your mailbox on the server will eventually fill up. We get the same mailbox warnings that you get and, we will if necessary extend the mailbox – especially if we see the cause is an unusual number or size of emails. If we see the cause is that your mailbox isn’t being automatically cleared, we will not extend the mailbox size. The box will eventually fill up, no more emails can arrive and anyone sending email to you will have it bounced back to them with a ‘mailbox full’ message.

Note that the warning messages are not telling you that your computer is full (unless of course it really is!). The messages refer to the size of the mailbox on the server that holds the emails being queued for you, waiting for you to collect them. An analogy is a postbox outside your house. Its only a finite size and eventually fills up if people send you big letters or you don’t empty it now and again.

If you really do need more space in your mailbox, please contact us and we will try to sort this for you. I’m afraid that we do not have limitless server resources (like Google Mail has). We cannot provide mailboxes that hold limitless amounts of emails going back several years. You need to be reading the emails from the server and storing them on your computer. Don’t forget to back up your computer will you!


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