Jamie_v2Jamie Davis, VP, Education, Product Management and Quality Control | Safe Systems

Are you an email hoarder?  Do thousands of emails fill your inbox?  Is every message you ever received still in your inbox “just in case” you need it one day?  Or do you find a full inbox suffocating?  Do more than 20 emails make you feel stressed or overwhelmed?

Email and email management habits epitomize personality traits.  It’s similar to how someone manages their closets.  Is everything sorted, color coded and in its proper place? Or are clothes on the floor, in a hamper and only on a hanger if they came from the cleaners?  Just as different people’s closets exist in varying degrees of organization, their Outlook inboxes vary just as widely.  Some people naturally keep their Outlook tidy, while others choose to let messages stack up unchecked.  If you would like to hold employees to a standard, then you’ve got to set rules for email usage.  But if no one enforces these rules, expect a lot of unruly inboxes. Changing the way that people use email can ruffle some feathers, so you may be wondering if the effort is worth the reward.

Here are a few reasons why you and your employees should care about clean Outlook:

1) No email management means data will grow over time.

  • Data growth almost always equals increased cost: cost for storage, cost for data backup, cost for disaster recovery and the cost involved with a hosting provider
  • Data growth often means performance will degrade over time.  As data grows, the email database grows.  As the email database grows, the Exchange server’s performance could be affected if it isn’t monitored and managed accordingly.

2) Outlook problems:  Although no specific issue has been identified, there’s no end to the news articles and horror stories about what happens as the number of stored emails grows. These issues can range from Outlook becoming sluggish to email systems crashing under the weight of too much information.  Older versions of Outlook can present even more serious and frustrating problems, such as the loss of mail through PST file corruption, or Outlook locking up completely.  Outlook simply wasn’t designed to handle massive amounts of stored email.

Reigning in employee inboxes can be a daunting task. Where do you even start?  Here are some recommendations to help limit your institution’s email growth:

  • Set mailbox size limits for all users.  Consider 1 GB per mailbox for heavy email users and .5 GB or .25 GB for lower volume email users.

o   Safe Systems employs these limits on its employees

  • Encourage employees to use Outlook’s archive capability

o   Ensure user PST’s/archive files are stored on a server if their email contains important information

  • As an alternative or complement to using Outlook archive, consider adopting an institution-wide email archival solution

o   These are great because they allow each user access to every email they have ever sent or received without keeping these emails in Outlook.

o   Can allow for tighter mailbox size limits

o   Safe Systems uses a hosted email archival program for internal employees

  • Review reports of usage and address as needed

While you’ll never be able to control how each individual uses his or her email account, your policies and settings can make all the difference in terms of cost and performance of your institution’s systems.