Subscriber JPB had a question about deleting emails, and why they don’t get recycled:
When you delete files (normally) they go to the recycle bin. How come E-mail doesn’t work the same way. it get’s compacted? I’m using Thunderbird and Windows 7.
The reason that deleted emails don’t show up in the Recycle Bin is that the Recycle Bin stores files after you delete them (note that some programs will delete files without putting them into the Recycle Bin). This is sometimes a problem with older programs or programs that are simplistically ported from another operating system.
Most Windows email programs store emails as data in large files containing multiple emails. They’re not stored as individual files. Email "folders" are actually files, in most cases, although some email programs may not create separate files for the folders.
Thunderbird (which I use now) is one such, as is Eudora OSE (which I used at the time this article was originally written), which is based on Thunderbird. Thunderbird stores all its emails in a database file called global-messages-db.sqlite.
JPB still had some concerns, though:
Seems kind of lame to me. It would seem logical that if you delete it it it should be treated like anything else. What does the compacting do? Seems the emails still occupy space.
You would think they would just give you the option to delete them period. I’m not sure why they chose do handle emails this way.
Since JPB was using Thunderbird, I pointed him to a Thunderbird article that explained more fully, at http://support.mozillamessaging.com/en-US/kb/compact-inbox-or-other-folder?redirectlocale=en-US&redirectslug=inbox-or-other-folder-full
JPB wrote back to say:
Thanks. That was very informative.
The article explains the basic concept of storing emails in large files, "deleting individual emails" (marking them as deleted), and compacting (rewriting the large file to purge all the "deleted" emails. Until that point, the emails can be recovered, although not by the average user.