Thursday, November 1, 2007

Dieting tips for effective data loss: downsizing your mailbox


By Kathy T. Evans-Davis

Just as our bodies tend to become sometimes overloaded with unnecessary "junk," the same can be said of our electronic mailboxes becoming filled with bulky, non-text attachments such as pictures and spreadsheets. When consuming these large amounts of information, the "data calories" can quickly add up and can greatly increase the size of your mailbox. Think about those extra potato chips, cookies, and doughnuts you may regularly eat three or four times a week. Eventually you'll wake up one day and the scale will have a higher number than it did the last time you looked.

Most system administrators set a maximum size limit to Microsoft Exchange Server mailboxes. Large attachments can ultimately push you over your allowed limit. But don't despair. There are ways to free up mailbox space. You can save attachments to your computer hard disk or to removable media, such as a CD-ROM or DVD.

Throughout this article, I'll make some interesting "dieting" comparisons and similarities to reducing excess data from your mailbox and reducing excess weight from your "mainframe." These data dieting tips apply to Microsoft Outlook Version 2003, but most will apply equally well to Outlook 2007 and even other email programs.

Tip #1: find out where your "excess baggage" is coming from

Upon starting a weight loss program, the experts will often advise you to keep a daily food diary or journal to track what you each throughout each day. No matter how hard you try to delude yourself, no good comes from eating six Krispy Kreme donuts.

In essence, the food diary is a tool used to help you make good, healthy choices about food and exercise to achieve your desired weight loss and maintenance goals. It helps you find and ultimately eliminate those culprits that keep adding on the pounds.

Similarly, Microsoft Outlook uses Search Folders as a tool to find email messages with large attachments that weigh your mailbox down. After finding these attachments, you can decide which ones to delete or save to your computer. By default, Outlook includes a pre-defined Search Folder named Large Mail. It's easy to use. In the Navigation Pane for the mailbox you want to check, simply expand the Search Folders tab, and then click the Large Mail Search Folder.

If the Large Mail Search Folder is not visible, then you can create it.

  • In Mail, from the File menu, point to New, and then click Search Folder.
  • Under Select a Search Folder, in the Organizing Mail section, click Large Mail.
  • Messages larger than 100 kilobytes (KB) are included in this Search Folder by default.