He Said … She Said

August 8, 2007

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I’m always a little horrified when I work with clients who, in preparation for our first meeting, decided to “clean up” their email sent folder.

My take has always been that you should AT LEAST save every single sent message as a record of your communication with others, if not EVERY single message period (minus spam of course). Of course, that’s so long as you have enough space to store it (which most of us do nowadays).

That way, there’s never any question about exactly what was said – it’s one of the beauties of email, its supper easy to log a communication trail. It also makes it easy to clears up situations like one I once had, in which someone told me they never received my message about asking for a reschedule.

Hmmm, I wonder how I received a “works, for me … see you then” response from an email they never received. Maybe their email account was haunted … or more likely they looked at their calendar, saw they were free, shot me the “all clear” email , but failed to update the meeting change on their calendar. Those are the fun emails to send back to people … it guilt’s them into buying lunch the next time you do meet (Am I evil or what?).

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So here are some considerations for successful archiving of sent mail:

If you use an email client like Outlook, Thunderbird, Notes, etc. make sure the “save sent messages” option is turned on (most are by default).If you’re using an internet account like Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, etc. You also have the ability to turn on the “save sent messages”. It’s usually listed somewhere under options. You do have limited space at these type of accounts, but they’re proving gig after gig of space for free lately. We may have even reached the point that our ability to collect email is being outpaced by these companies ability to cost effectively produce more space … gosh, I hope that’s true!

Many of the companies I work with have a quota on the amount of server side storage allowed per person. If you’re in that situation, you can create a set of “local folders” that will be stored on your hard drive (not the server). In Outlook you can create personal folders by selecting “File” > “New” > “PST File” or “Outlook Data” file. After creating the local set of folders just, drag and drop your “sent” folders once per week or so.

Now, when saving information on your local drive you should definitely back it up once per week at least … consider doing it daily. The easiest and most cost effect ways to do that these days is by buys a USB flash drive, and exporting the file to the drive. USB flash drives seem to get faster and cheaper by the day. If you’re dealing with sensitive data, they also have ways to encrypt and password-protect the data on the drive (find out if that software comes preloaded on the drive before you buy it).

But you ask: how do you ever find a particular message if you have thousands of sent messages to look through? The answer my friend - use a desktop search tool. They are free, and much faster than default search tools. (See Desktop Search Tool Revolution) You should almost never have to open another email folder again … desktop search it instead!

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