Online email services such as Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo give free account users gigabytes of space for storing messages and attachments. These Web-based mail services allow users to save virtually any message, document or photo received in an email without fear of using up their allotted space. Still, even an email account with an incredibly large inbox can fill up over time. A full mailbox is even more apt to be a problem if you use a school or work email account with a disk-space quota that limits the amount of messages and attachments you can store on the server. If your inbox becomes full, you may occasionally receive “Mailbox Full” errors, which effectively prevent you from receiving and sending messages. If you receive this error while you are checking your messages, you can use tools built into your email client to clean your inbox and quickly restore your ability to send and receive messages.
Why the Error Happens
The most common reason that a “Mailbox Full” message appears is the fact that your inbox on the mail server has reached its quota or storage limit. All servers impose some sort of limit on the amount of space an account can use on the server’s hard drive. If you are the owner or postmaster of a website, your inbox might not have a specified size limit, but storage is still limited by the physical size of the server’s hard drive. On the other hand, if you have a regular email account on a school or business website, chances are your account has a default size limit. Because organizations may have thousands of email users on a single server, inbox quotas can be relatively small. In fact, many organizations limit inbox storage to a modest 50 to 250MB. If you receive text-only emails, you’ll be able to store thousands of messages in this space, but if you receive email with photos or music attachments, your allotted space on the mail server may fill up quickly. The bottom line is that the more messages you save (or neglect to delete) on the email server, the faster your inbox will fill up. Even if you have a multi-gigabyte email account with Gmail or Yahoo, you will eventually exceed your inbox quota.
Store Messages Locally
Some users regard their email accounts as free online storage because the files in their inboxes are readily available to them from the mail server. Over the long term, this option is only viable for users with accounts that provide a lot of storage space for messages and attachments. If you have a Gmail account with 3GB of email storage, you can probably leave important documents and photos on the mail server indefinitely. But if you have an email account with minimal storage, leaving important files on the server may quickly push you over your quota. Another fact to consider is that server backups by schools and smaller organizations might not be as frequent, putting your important data at risk if the server crashes. Virtually all email clients offer an option for deleting email on the server after downloading the messages to your local computer. In widely used applications such as Outlook, Outlook Express and Thunderbird, enabling this feature is as simple as opening the Options or Preferences menu on the application toolbar and clicking on a few settings. Instead of using the mail server as online storage for your files, consider opening a free account with DropBox or SkyDrive. You can then safely store your important files in the cloud and free up precious space in your inbox.
Clear Email on Remote Server
Using the “Delete messages on server” option can help you free up space in your inbox, but this option might not work for older messages that existed on the server before you enabled the feature. In some cases, email clients check only for new messages when communicating with a server, so if you have older messages on the server, your software might not see them at all. In this case, you might need to create a new profile in your email client and then enable the “Delete messages on server” option before clicking the “Send/Receive” button on the toolbar for the first time. When creating the new profile, use the same login information that you used for your primary profile. Then, when you click the “Send/Receive” button in your email client, the application should download all messages in your inbox on the mail server, including the old messages that were not previously detected. Once you have created the new profile, downloaded your mail and deleted all messages on the server, set the new profile as your default. You can delete the old profile from your email client or leave it as is so you can reference older messages not included in the new profile.
Preventing Future Errors
Although neglecting to delete old emails on the server is the primary reason for “Mailbox Full” error messages, spam and old email subscriptions are major culprits as well. If you receive a lot junk mail in your inbox, be sure to mark those messages “Spam” or “Junk.” This tells the software that any messages received from those senders in the future should be routed directly to the junk mail folder and deleted from the server. Also, report spam to your email or network administrator so that he can filter and delete messages from offenders before they reach your inbox. If you subscribe to online newsletters, review your subscriptions and unsubscribe from any that you do not use regularly. Some organizations send daily newsletters with embedded images that can fill up an email inbox rather quickly.
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