Since I had three emails from subscribers this week who were using Outlook Express and were unable to delete their emails any longer, I guess it’s time for another article on the subject.
The problem is that, when you delete an email, it’s not really deleted. It sticks around and can cause you problems later.
Email programs like Outlook Express, Outlook, Eudora OSE, Thunderbird, and others that download your emails to your computer all have one feature that works the same way. They store emails in one or more files. The "folder" they display in the email program is actually a file. "Deleted Items", also known as "Trash" is one of these folders.
When an email is deleted from a folder, it is not really deleted and removed from the file. If it was, every time you deleted a message, the email program would have to rewrite the file that corresponds to that particular email folder.
Instead, in the interest of speed and responsiveness to the user, the program simply changes part of the email header to indicate to the program that the email has been "deleted". That way, subsequent program (like displaying the list of emails in the folder) simply skip over the "deleted" one.
As you can guess, every email going into the folder makes the file bigger and bigger. The solution is to Compact the email folders. Each of these programs has a menu item that compacts the folders. Compacting is a step that rewrites the email folders, skipping over the deleted emails, so that the folders are smaller and no longer include the emails that have been "deleted."
Which brings us to Ralph’s question:
You helped me once, and I thought that was the end of it. Now my OE deleted file will not accept any email, even though I deleted all files in it several days ago.
You sent me instructions on how to delete this file and create a new one, but my memory is so far gone that I can barely remember doing it.
Can you outline it for me, again, please. I am rapidly losing my faculties.
We can see from Ralph’s explanation that he has been deleting emails (which puts them into the Deleted Items folder) and then has kept up with deleting the emails out of the Deleted Items folder.
But, as described above, that’s not enough. The Deleted Items.dbx file just gets bigger and bigger until it gets compacted.
Ralph needs to compact his Outlook Express folders on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, as he remembers from before, when you hit the point of not being able to delete emails, it’s too late. At that point, the solution is actually to delete the hard drive file "Deleted Items.dbx" from the Outlook Express folder. The next time you delete an email in Outlook Express, it will recreate the Deleted Items.dbx file.
I responded to Ralph giving him links to some of the articles already on my web site:
I’ve written a few articles on the problem:
GO TO http://www.terryscomputertips.com
Use MY Google search box on the right-hand column and search for
unable to delete emails from outlook express
If you haven’t been compacting the email folders, try this:
If you want to delete the Deleted Items folder, which is really a file on the hard drive, you can find it this way:
Then delete" the "Deleted Items.dbx" file.
Then, the next time you "delete" an email, OE will create the Deleted Items folder for you.
By the way, there’s also a link in the right-hand column of the newsletter to my article Can Not Delete Emails in Outlook Express .