May 27, 2011
In recent weeks I have met a number of people in the Outlook seminars I teach who tell me they do the following: they delete all mail they are “done with,” including important mail, and then use the Deleted Items folder as their long-term storage area for later searching. They point out that that in this case the Deleted Items folder becomes the equivalent of the MYN Processed Mail Folder. And they point out that deleting in bulk saves time over selectively saving some mail into the Processed Mail folder.
Here are the reasons not to do that:
- What about all the mail you really do intend to fully delete? How do you really delete those? If it’s only a few e-mails, then saving them also is not a big ‘deal’. However, I do actually fully delete about 1/3 to 1/2 of my mail (making instant decisions based on titles). And keeping those would significantly impact my storage space and later “eye-ball” searching overhead.
- Outlook sometimes purposely erases the contents of the deleted items folder—so it is not a reliable long term storage area. It usually gives a warning before it does it, but I could see the case where I am moving fast and click the wrong answer.
- Outlook puts –all- deleted items in that folder too: deleted tasks, calendar items, contacts; why save all those too? Again, sometimes you really do want to get rid of things (like duplicate contacts or an old contact with incorrect contact info) and Outlook might find these in later searches and that may lead you astray.
- I don’t know the answer to this, but it would not surprise me if Exchange does not back up the contents of the Deleted Items folder. So if your servers went down and you had to restore, all that mail would be lost.
To summarize, I think you want to make a clear distinction between what you really never want to see again, and those things you do intend to possibly search later as reference material. There is a big difference in how you treat them, and in how Outlook treats them. So don’t mix them together.