How to Manage Email Storage on the Server in Microsoft Outlook 2010 – just in 4 easy steps

If you use the webmail, or connect to your server via IMAP setting, you are not storing the email in your mail client – you are working with mail directly on the server. So once you delete the email there, it is gone. But if you are using a POP3 setting, your setup is different.

From time to time, my clients ask me why they hit the storage limit for their mail, even if they keep  cleaning out their Outlook mailbox.

The answer is simple – you need to address the mail storage limit on the mail SERVER, not your personal computer, and I bet you have “Leave a copy of messages on the server” enabled.

Imagine that your mail server is the post office, and your mailbox is your Outlook. Now picture this: your email comes to the post office, and is being stored there. A postal worker makes a copy of every piece of mail, leaves a copy at the post office, and delivers the original your mailbox at your home. You may be taking out your bills and junk mail out of your mailbox every day, cleaning it out, to make room for more mail to come in the next day. But if you do not instruct the postal worker to remove the unwanted copies from the post office, they will just keep piling up there, until the post office runs out of room, and is no longer able to receive any new mail. And you will be standing next to your empty mailbox wondering what happened to your mail!

So it’s kind of the same scenario of how your email is being processed between a server and a computer:

  • Mail server receives the email.
  • Your email client (such as Outlook) connects to the server, and if its a POP3 connection, downloads the message to your personal computer.
  • Mail server keeps a copy.
  • YYou maintain your inbox on your personal computer by either keeping, archiving or deleting the message …but what about the server email maintenance?

You may have access to your server mail via webmail, and can decide if you want to delete some of the older and unwanted emails. Sometimes it becomes a tedious task, especially if you receive a large volume of emails.

What you should do is to make a proper setup for your Microsoft Outlook to manage the email storage on the server. When you delete email from the server, it does not remove email messages from your Outlook, if they were already downloaded.

I know some people are worried and feel attached to their email – no pun intended in regards to the “attachments”, and prefer to keep copies “just in case”.

A much better practice would be to compromise on the certain number of days that you may want to keep the email on the server – I have 14 days set for my preferences, but you may want to choose 5, or 30 – just remember to pick a reasonable number that works for the general flow and volume of emails coming your way. In addition, it is wise to Archive your mail  in the outlook to make sure your inbox does not get overstuffed.

4 Steps to Setup Your Email Storage Preferences in Outlook

Here are some screenshots for the Microsoft Outlook (part of Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010, version 14) mail storage setup.

Step 1: File > Info > Account Settings > Choose Account settings from Additional Drop down

Outlook - Delete emails from Server - Step 1

Outlook – Delete emails from Server – Step 1


 Step 2. Change Account > More Settings

Outlook - Delete emails from Server - Step 2

Outlook – Delete emails from Server – Step 2


Step 3.

Outlook - Delete emails from Server - Step 3

Outlook – Delete emails from Server – Step 3

Step 4. Advanced > Delivery > Check “Leave a copy of messages on the server”> Choose X number of days.

Outlook - Delete emails from Server - Step 4

Outlook – Delete emails from Server – Step 4

If you choose not to store mail on the server, it will download everything straight to your Outlook inbox, and you can manage them all on your personal computer instead. If this is your preferred option, just un-check the Delivery option altogether.

Outlook - Do not store copies of email on server

Outlook – Do not Store copies of email on server option

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