How to backup your Gmail (and other email too) & aiming for an empty In-box
My previous post on Mailstore Home i.e. the post immediately before this one, came about from my testing and assessment of the Gmail Backup options discussed by this article:
While the focus of the article is clear, there's a lot of information in it that can be applied to other email platforms.
For example, the fact that tools like Mailstore Home can deal with more email providers than just Google/Gmail.
Some of the solutions are a bit technical and for geeks, which is why I bypassed GMVault, and some just didn't work for me (I used to use UpSafe but it seems quite broken at the moment...for my context anyway).
Anyway, I'll just leave that here for you to read.
Email seems to eventually turn into a problem for everyone.
So I wanted to make some suggestions about how to avoid the creeping spectre of thousands of unread emails... because, let's face it, you'll never (EVER) go back to them and read them!
For a while there was talk about using email with a "Zero inbox" strategy.
But a quick Google will, as usual, disclose quite some divided opinions on this method for handling email.
Most of these email handling strategies seem to focus around handling "too much" email.
So my first tip is:
1) Don't try to "handle" too much email. Just stop getting too much email.
The creep of subscriptions, alerts, correspondence, information, junk and so on can often feel like something we need to pay attention to and deal with properly.
You know what, in this day and age, probably (definitely) not.
Being an IT guy you could imagine that I'd get heaps of email. But I have my daily email handling down to between 20 and 30 emails a day on average.
So to this end Unsubscribe, Block and Filter the junk/bad stuff ruthlessly.
If you really need "that information" then Google it, it WILL be available somewhere else.
2) Leave individual emails "unread" until you have dealt with them, properly, completely and finally.
An unread email should be part of your to-do list ...but on your terms!
Even if you read an email and decide it needs some attention later, mark it as unread so that you know that.
If you tag it some other way it WILL get lost and not be attended to.
3) If you've read something, and it has been dealt with, but you need/want to keep it, then just leave it marked as read i.e. so it is off your radar but not on your todo list.
Maybe file or tag it so that it is easier to find. But really, searching emails is pretty easy these days so you are probably wasting your time.
4) If it is important then DON'T assume it is safe all alone in your email client (or webmail).
Don't leave important emails in your email program or webmail. They need to be backed up and safely stored somewhere logical OUTSIDE of email...
...because one day, some day, inevitably...email will let you down...badly.
Again, read my many articles on my blog to decide how you want to do this, but just do it...
5) Delete the crap now.
Once you have steps 1 to 4 sorted, then you can get loose with deleting junk, rubbish and old stuff...because, again, you aren't ever going back to it. Be honest with yourself.
DON'T delete the important stuff.
It is OK for email to be one of you backup locations for important emails (just NOT the only location).
As you can see from the image at right, I have nearly 43,000 emails in my Gmail.
That's quite a lot considering what I've just told you.
But, you can see I only have 3 Unread emails and they are, in fact, the only ones of those 43,000 that need any attention and they ARE the only ones I really care about.
That's quite a liberating feeling.
I regularly delete all emails over a certain age happy in the knowledge that if an improtant one is in there, I've backed it up elsewhere if I really need to find it.
6) Use email synchronisation (IMAP and the like) to reduce double-handling of emails.
These days pretty much all of us get every email on every device.
If these aren't synchronised then we have to handle each email each time on each device.
Beware though, if you change ships mid-stream (from non-synchronising to synchronising) you need to be aware that what you do on one device IS REFLECTED everywhere.
Don't delete on your phone expecting it to still be on your PC, because it will have been synchronised away.
I suppose if I had to summarise my strategy for handling email succinctly it would be:
Handle it, back it up, and then don't sweat it.
To me it seems to be the mounting collection of uncertainty and undone things that ultimately catches people out.
I hope that helps :-)