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What to do if your email box is overloaded with files.

Welcome to another episode of design and influence, where it is our job to help architecture design and engineering professionals utilize technology so that their teams can do their best work. We also try to give you advice on how to better utilize tech in your day-to-day work so that you can be happier and more centered on running a better business. 

My co-host is Boris Rapport, also CEO of the company called ArchIT where we both work and provide IT support for AEC professionals.   

This topic resulted in one of the longest pre-show arguments. And I am excited to unveil it because it is going to be a discussion that touches 100% of people who dare to press “play” on this podcast or those who are reading the article. Today’s subject is “Cluttered and clunky Inboxes” 

It can simply be referred to as “email box overload.” We aren’t going to talk about rules for sending out emails such as; when you respond, how you respond or reaching inbox zero. What we are going to discuss is the amount of data or files currently residing in your inbox, which is probably a lot.  

Before we started this conversation, I checked my own Gmail inbox that I have been using since 2007, and it’s sort of staggering. It’s currently taking up 74.9 gigabytes of space. Sound familiar? Read on.  

How To Deal with Email Data Management? 

The major issues stem from the sheer size of your email box. Many of us are using business email platforms like Microsoft Office or Google; both of those services basically give you a huge amount of data you can use for your mailbox. I mean, we can almost call it “unlimited data ”. The problem comes up if you are trying to use “third-party email clients” with all that data. Microsoft people have grown up with Outlook, and they want to use outlook, while many Mac users use Mac’s email client. When you use those clients for email management the data is downloaded locally to your hard drive, which slows down the system. We are talking about 30, 40, 50 gigabytes of data! As such we start having issues with data corruption, emails not coming in at the right time, and new emails not showing up in the mailbox unless you close out and reopen. These issues will surface when your email box gets large. 

For those who are using the cloud-based email platform, from a search standpoint, you usually get better performance, but at the same time, it’s still hard to search if you have multiple items that match the search criteria. You might pop into the search and input your keyword. If you only had three years’ worth of emails in there, you may get 10 results, but if your mailbox is older, it could be up to 100 results. You can sort the results by day, and there are also certain things you can do to filter stuff out. Still, the search itself will become more cumbersome as time goes on.   

How To Better Manage data in Email Inboxes? 

From our standpoint, it’s a bit of a pet peeve when people want to send large files back and forth via email. In our day job, we help architects and engineers with IT, and many of our clients deal with large files or PDFs. Sometimes we get specifically asked questions like, “can you enable us to send this file?”  If the question is, “Can you enable us to send this 100MB file?” The answer is you shouldn’t be sending 100MB files through the internet. You should consider other people’s mailboxes, and instead, you can use software like Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive where that file can live. Why not just send a link which makes the recipient’s email small and manageable? It wouldn’t affect the other person’s inbox, and you can collaborate on that file basically in real-time. The person will be able to open the file and make his or her changes. You will see the changes right away, and you can also do the same in Excel or any type of file. That eliminates the back and forth.  

Email Security Best Practices  

If you have documents stored in your email and inbox gets hacked the bad guys would have access to all the data.  As such, we don’t recommend using email as file storage. Let’s face it, few of us take enough time to protect our email, especially personal email. There is an increased risk in storing files or sensitive information files in your email. 

So what is the best practice when it comes to email file management from a security standpoint?  

  1. Send links to shared documents vs. attachments  
  1. Reset your email password at least every 90 days 
  1. Enable two-factor authentication access to your email. 

Should I be Deleting Emails? 

Well, you must look at your inbox history. Probably seventy percent of the email in your inbox right now, you will never need again. We recommend archiving the old email then exporting the archives and storing them on your Google Drive, or your Microsoft OneDrive. In case you ever need to find that email from 15 years ago, you can just open that file and find the email.  

There are other business tools that can help. For example, Microsoft’s automatic email archiving setting. We would typically recommend setting a policy. For example, Everything that is 7 years older gets moved to this different location. Your team will still have access to data, but it’s not sitting in their mailboxes. Google’s Workspace system has a similar toolset for auto-archiving of the old email  

Finally,  

For readers who have IT professionals that work with them in your company. It is a great idea to reach out right now and set up your email policies. Once you set it up, you don’t need to spend any more valuable resources on it. Just set it and let it do the work for you. 

If you need help,  

Please reach out to us. We have years of experience providing IT services to the architecture, design, and engineering communities. Fill out this form and we’ll be happy to help answer any IT questions you may have.