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Should I leave messages on the server?
Should you leave your email messages on the mail server?
That depends, but in general, if you're using POP, the answer is no.

We highly encourage users to delete their messages from the server, as it results in better performance for everyone involved (including you!): How to configure my POP client the right way!

What's this whole "leaving messages on the server" business?

To check your mail, your POP client logs into the mail server, and asks if there are any new messages. If the answer is yes, your POP client downloads those new messages from the server to your work or home desktop. Since your messages are now safe on your desktop, there is no reason to keep them on the server. Hence, at this point, most POP clients also tell the server to delete those new messages.

However, some users configure their POP clients to leave the messages on the server, even after they have already downloaded them safely to their desktop. Why in the world would someone do that?

I actually can't think of any reason why myself.

Actually, I can think of one: if someone wanted an exact copy of all their emails at work and at home.
(If you can think of any other reason, please post them here!)

Unfortunately, IMAP is a better solution for the work/home situation than is POP, and in addition, leaving your messages on the servers places unnecessary burdens on the mail servers.

For those of you that really want to know the "why", here is an example:

Scenario 1: A user has 300 messages in her INBOX, leaves her messages on the server, and has her POP client check for new messages ever 5 minutes. This means that every 5 minutes the mail server must search through all 300 messages looking for new messages.

Scenario 2: Take the scenario above, and imagine that 1000 users were doing exactly the same thing. Now there are every 5 minutes, 300,000 messages are being searched, an equivalent of 60,000 messages every minute!

When you consider that we've found some users with 25,000 messages in their INBOX, you can see how this has spiraled out of control in the past!

Please, if you're using POP, be kind to everyone and follow the simple advice found in this article: How to configure my POP client the right way!

If you really must leave your messages on the server, you should really be using IMAP, as it was designed for exactly that. Learn more about IMAP here: What's the difference between POP3 and IMAP?.

If you used to leave messages on the server and now you want to delete them, you can do so just by using an IMAP client (including our webmail), or by just chaging your POP3 settings to no longer leave messages on the server!

Last updated: Dec 06, 2004.

User Post (2006-01-12 03:53:33 by nickb)
I leave my messages on the server for 10 days after I read them. I do not set to delete from the server when i delete from my email client because I may delete something by mistake.

I have been very grateful that Dreamhost has backup copies of my last 10 days email because sometimes my pst files have become lost or damaged and i don't seem to manage a backup every day ;-)

User Post (2005-04-04 16:25:35 by theshaffers)
I leave messages on the server for a couple of days because I back up my email every couple of days.
User Post (2003-10-02 13:01:56 by leahruekberg)
If you're using Outlook Express and wondering why, when you delete a message, it's still listed in your Inbox, but with a red X next to the message and the header info crossed out, do this:

In OE go to "Tools|Options" and click on the "Maintenance" tab. Then check the box that says "Purge deleted messages when leaving IMAP folders."

I couldn't find any info on Dreamhost about this, but figured it out after only a day or so of wondering.
User Post (2003-07-05 16:34:16 by shalashaska)
I leave my messages on the server because I may need a copy of them later say, if my computer crashes just after I got an important email. Also so I can get my email when I'm travelling if someone is using my computer at home. I fully plan to do some cleaning at least every 6 months or so. :x You know, to back up the entirely useful stuff and detele the stuff from my computer and my server. ;D But then I don't get a lot of email.
User Post (2003-01-22 17:49:16 by gmh)
I leave my messages on the server because I check my mail in two ways (three actually). I use a normal mail client at home, and have a mobile phone with an email client too. If either was to delete the messages on the server, the other couldn't download them. Also, I don't get any mobile reception at work, which means I sometimes use webmail to check and respond to messages.
User Post (2003-01-15 22:15:24 by ock)
"However, some users configure their POP clients to leave the messages on the server, even after they have already downloaded them safely to their desktop. Why in the world would someone do that?"

Actually, there is an extremely good reason besides the one already mentioned above. The reason is that Dreamhost backs up data (including mailboxes, I assume) very often. Personally, I only make backups on occaision.