I've deleted email, why am I still taking up too much space in the mail spool?

Did you receive this message from CETS?

We'll check back in a week, and if you have more than 250 MB of
messages older than 30 days, we'll move the oldest messages into a new
folder for you. You will be able to read the message using webmail or
your usual email software. We won't delete any messages, and we won't
move any messages less than 30 days old.

Most mail services have a storage limit, and when you are over your
limit you can't receive any new mail. We don't do that, because we
don't want to block new mail that might be important.

If you've tried deleting messages but still find that your mail file (which is not the same as your disk usage/quota) is too big, it's probably because you are using an IMAP or POP client to read your mail. These clients copy messages to multiple locations, but don't always delete them from all locations when you mark them for deletion. Thus you think you've deleted them, when in reality they still exist on the mail spool.

The rest of this article contains more detailed information about deleting messages from several email clients Eniac supports. First you will need to remove messages that were left undeleted in the past attempts of removal. The most dependable way to do this is to open your inbox through mutt or webmail and delete them individually:


Just log in to your account using SSH or SecureCRT (not telnet), type mutt at the prompt, and 'd' is the command to delete a message. If you don't want to delete messages individually, you can use the Delete Mail Messages functionality available on the Accounts page.

Note: If there are messages you'd like to store for future reference, you can save them to your eniac account. For more information, see How Do I Move Messages from the Mail Spool?

After cleaning up old undeleted messages, find your mail reader in the list below and follow the instructions for reconfiguring your mail reader to prevent this problem from recurring in the future.


To delete messages safely online, visit http://webmail.seas.upenn.edu. Once logged in, you will be placed in the inbox. Click the checkboxes beside the messages you'd like to delete or move and use the toolbar at the top to handle the selected messages.

If you prefer, you may create a new folder by clicking on "folders". This folder is located not on the mail spool, but on your eniac account, which has significantly more space. Once the folder is created, you may move messages to it from the inbox view.

As a final note on Webmail, make sure to click on "Purge Deleted" in the upper right of the screen when finished to finalize deletions. Otherwise, the messages will remain in the account and continue to use up space on the mail queue.

As a side note, if you would like further information on using any of the mail clients listed in this document, please see: Which mail program should I use on Eniac?


In Eudora you have two options: make sure to expunge messages after you've deleted them or set a time limit on how long you leave messages on the server.

To configure how Eudora handles deleted messages:

IMAP Protocol

  1. Under the Tools menu, select Options
  2. Click on the Incoming Mail icon on the left
  3. At Server Configuration, check IMAP
  4. Choose an option under When I delete a message
      a) The recommended option is to check the box for Mark it as deleted and then you remove deleted mail from the server by compacting folders (Special >> Compact Mailboxes)
      b) Your other option is to check the box for Move it to Trash, in which case you have to manually empty the Trash folder (Special >> Empty Trash)

Microsoft Outlook

We do not recommend using Outlook because it is less stable than other mail programs. If you need to reconfigure Outlook for the time-being until you can change mail readers, here is the configuration:


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