Archive & Remove Mail from the Server using Outlook

If you are getting messages about your mailbox nearing its quota, you will need to remove some mail from the server. You don’t have to delete old mail though, you can move the mail off the server and on to your local computer. These are instructions for archiving mail if you use Microsoft Outlook to check your email.

Step 1: Determine your current mail settings

You first need to determine if your email client on your computer is configured for IMAP or POP3. The method for archiving mail is different depending on how your mail client is setup.

  1. Click the File tab in the top left corner in Outlook.
  2. Click Account Settings, then click Account Settings again.
  3. On the Email tab, find your email address, and then see if it says POP/SMTP or IMAP/SMTP next to it.
    NOTE: You may have multiple accounts listed in your email client. Be sure you’re looking at the one(s) hosted by us, not any third-party email accounts (such as Gmail).

Step 2: Find the appropriate method to remove mail from the server

  • If you your email account is configured using IMAP, this means you view all of your mail on the server. You will need to create a local data file (PST) on your computer and archive mail off of the server using the instructions below.
  • If you are using POP3, the method for removing mail from the server will depend on which mail folders you need to empty.

Archive from an IMAP folder

Archiving mail from your IMAP accounts involves creating data files on your local computer to store your older email instead of keeping it all on the server. You will still have access to all your mail, it just will be stored locally instead of in the cloud. Below are instructions for creating annual data files for your archived mail, so that it’s easy to find messages by calendar year.

  1. In Outlook, find your oldest messages, so that you know what year you need to start archiving:
    • In your Inbox, click on the Received column to sort by date. Scroll to the oldest date and make note of the year.
    • In your Sent Items folder, click on the Received column to sort by date. Scroll to the oldest date and make note of the year.
    • Whichever has the oldest date is the year you will archive first in the steps below.
  2. On the Home tab in Outlook, click New Items > More Items > Outlook Data File.
  3. Type a name for your new archive file, including the year that you will start archiving. If you have multiple email accounts, I recommend including something to indicate which account it is for. (For example, Archive-2017 or KKrohnert-Archive-2017.)
    IMPORTANT: Make a note of the name and location of this archive file. You will need to browse to it later.
  4. Click OK.
  5. Click the File tab in the top left corner in Outlook.
  6. Click Tools > Clean Up Old Items.
  7. Select “Archive this folder and all subfolders”.
  8. Select the Inbox for the IMAP account that you want to archive. This should also include Sent, Junk, etc. as subfolders.
  1. In the “Archive items older than” field, select January 1st of the year after you want to archive. For example, if you’re archiving 2017, select 1/1/2018.
  2. Select the checkbox labeled “Include items with ‘Do not AutoArchive’ checked”.
  3. Click Browse and navigate to the PST file you created in step 3.
  4. Click OK to begin archiving. The status of the archiving task will display at the bottom of the main Outlook window.
  5. When archiving is complete for that year, repeat the process for each successive year, until you have only the current year on the server.
  6. To archive mail for the current year, select a cut-off date from the current year (for example, to archive January – March, select April 1st). You can keep adding to the same archive file throughout the year, so you can archive periodically and all the messages from that year will go into that year’s data file.
  7. You will now see your Archive folders in the left side of your Outlook email window, and can access them at any time from your computer.
  8. Check that your email archiving was successful.
Archive data files showing in Outlook

Configure POP email settings to leave messages on the server for less time

  1. Click the File tab in the top left corner in Outlook.
  2. Click Account Settings, then click Account Settings again.
  3. On the Email tab, select your email account from the list and click the Change button above.
Outlook 2016 POP account settings window
  1. Ensure that “Remove from server after ___ days” is checked.
  2. Set the number of days to 14 days or less. If it was already enabled and set to 14, try reducing it to 7 or 10 days.
  3. Click Next, and then click Done.
  4. Check that your email archiving was successful.

Step 3: Confirm that your changes were successful

If you are successful in archiving and removing mail, your mailbox will hopefully be below 200MB or less. To confirm that you’ve archived all the appropriate folders and have actually reduced the size of your mailbox, you can log into webmail to view your email folder sizes on the server.

  1. In your web browser, go to https://yourdomain/webmail (replace your domain with your actual domain name).
  2. Login with your full email address as the username and your email password.
  3. Click your email address in the top-right corner, and select “Manage Disk Usage” from the drop-down menu.
  1. You will see a list of the email folders you have on the server, along with the number of messages in each folder, and how much space they are using on the server. As you see in the screenshot below, this user has mostly emptied their Inbox and Sent folders, but a lot of mail remains in the Trash folder.
  2. Click Manage for an option to delete all messages in that folder (to empty trash or spam folders).
Email folder size listing showing Trash folder to be emptied