Friday, December 1, 2006

A quick trick for deleting enormous amounts of junk email


By David Gewirtz

I get a tremendous amount of email each day. In the last 30 days, I got 136,000 junk email messages. And that's just the junk that made it past our Postini filtering server and then made it past the filtering on our own mail server. The amount of junk mail I personally get is mind-boggling.

It's also enough to bog down Outlook. My spam filter does a good job, and reasonably successfully sends most of my junk email into my junk folder. But the problem was, my junk folder started to become huge, clogged with hundreds of thousands of email messages.

Outlook doesn't like deleting hundreds of thousands of messages in a folder at once. So to clear my junk folder, it'd take hours of selecting small subsets, deleting those, waiting, and then continuing the process.

And then, one morning in the shower, I had an idea. I have many of my best ideas in the shower (clean body, clean mind and all that), and this idea was a winner.

The idea was that if I put my junk email into its own .PST file, then when the file got all clogged up, I could just delete it, start a new .PST file, and continue on.

How it works

The process is very simple. In Outlook, create a new data file by choosing New--> Outlook Data File from the File menu. Put that file in the same folder as your Personal Folders.pst file. I call the file Junk Email Repository.pst.

From the File menu, choose Data File Management and when the dialog comes up, click the Add button to add your new Junk Email Repository.

You'll now see two Personal Folders trees in your Folder List, as shown in Figure A.


I have a dedicated .PST file that holds my junk email. (click for larger image)

Create a folder in that new Personal Folders tree called Junk Email Repository. Finally, redirect your junk email into that folder. If you use Outlook's own Junk Email manager, you may need to create a rule that watches the Junk E-Mail folder and moves anything that shows up there into your repository.

Now, when the repository gets full, reverse the process above. Use the Data File Management dialog to remove the June Email Repository.pst file, delete the file, create a new one, and re-route your spam filter.

Flushing hundreds of thousands of junk email messages from Outlook now takes me about five minutes -- and keeps all that crap out of my main .PST file.

It's good for Outlook. It's good for the environment. And it's good for you.