back to article CEO insisted his email was on server that had been offline for years

Welcome again to On-Call, The Register’s Friday column in which readers share tales of tricky tech support tasks. This week meet “Sam” who “used to work for one of those zombie web companies that limped along after the dotcom bubble burst because no-one had told it that it should be dead.” The company no longer had a proper …

  1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Futurama.......

    God Entity: When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    That sounds like the story of a madhouse

    I believe that the state of the IT department is rather representative of the mentality of the company.

    With an IT in that state, it's a wonder that the company managed to function over a number of years.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That sounds like the story of a madhouse

      I work somewhere like the authors org.

      I'd guess that there's one business unit that has a solid underpinnings that keeps the rest of the business afloat and isn't entirely reliant on little things like functional IT infrastucture. As such, you don't need developers, network engineers, sysops etc - I mean, the part that makes money never failed, so anything else is just a cost.

      Anon, because you know why.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That sounds like the story of a madhouse

        "I'd guess that there's one business unit that has a solid underpinnings that keeps the rest of the business afloat"

        Maybe now. I've lost track of them. But back then we were the entire place.

        ~ "Sam"

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: That sounds like the story of a madhouse

        I mean, the part that makes money never failed, so anything else is just a cost.

        And this is something that's bugged me for most of my working life - with very few exceptions[1] IT is seen a net loss in financial terms rather than a cost-of-business expense.

        I mean, it's all very well having sales droids in shiny suits going out pressing the flesh, but if it wasn't for IT, they wouldn't be able to sell anything!

        Strangely enough, very few sales types seem to see it in those terms. Or accountants. Or Finance Directors..

        [1] And all the exceptions seem to have been companies whose main product is IT.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: That sounds like the story of a madhouse

          with very few exceptions[1] IT is seen a net loss in financial terms

          I worked in local radio in the 1990s as an "engineer". I ended up "doing IT" because almost nobody else knew where the "on" buttons were, but bear in mind that when I started the entire IT assets of this 35-ish employee company consisted of one '286 running DOS and WordPerfect, connected to a Laserjet, one '386DX with Windows 3.0 for the boss's secretary (and her Laserjet) a '386SX that my boss managed to budget for himself, and a multi-user minicomputer thingy running half a dozen VT52 terminals for booking.

          Anwyay, besides the point. Just before I started that job my boss and my predecessor had (apparently) taken part in a company-wide transition to a "cost centre" format. Each department cross-charged each other department.

          The way my boss told it, the only department in the entire company that made a profit was engineering, and the experiment was quietly dropped :-)

          M.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: That sounds like the story of a madhouse

            I have a conscious and worry about some things that aren't done right, risks taken and corners cut.

            Then I visit someone else's IT function and I don't feel so bad ..... :)

            Properly done IT is actually quite expensive and entrepreneur types like to get by on less money by taking calculated risks. We do our best with what we have, but on a wing and a prayer sometimes.

          2. Muscleguy Silver badge

            Re: That sounds like the story of a madhouse

            We're still running a Laserjet here at home, a 6MP. It is connected to a JetDirect box which talks nicely to the router, via enet and it is then on the LAN enabling me to print wirelessly from Mac laptops and iMac to the wife's Dell but not her work one because she isn't allowed to install the drivers . . .

            We've had it for decades and it seems pretty bulletproof. Bought second hand originally too. Absolute value.

            Via of course the magic of CUPS and Gutenprint as HP no longer supports the native driver. Sometimes I absolutely adore the interwebnets and the geeks who produce things like Gutenprint as a service for others.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That sounds like the story of a madhouse

          And this is something that's bugged me for most of my working life - with very few exceptions[1] IT is seen a net loss in financial terms rather than a cost-of-business expense.

          [1] And all the exceptions seem to have been companies whose main product is IT.

          So what's IBM's excuse?

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: That sounds like the story of a madhouse

            "So what's IBM's excuse?"

            No excuses needed. You've just overlooked the bullsh

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That sounds like the story of a madhouse

          "And this is something that's bugged me for most of my working life - with very few exceptions[1] IT is seen a net loss in financial terms rather than a cost-of-business expense."

          Yes indeed. Worked at a manufacturer that completely saw IT as a cost. In their viewpoint - the Plants made product and sales droids sold product. IT was just a necessary evil that cost a lot of money. While that might have still been true as recently as the mid 90's when you could fall back to paper, but fast forward to today... The entire company would collapse during any outage in the data center, no matter how short. Trucks couldn't leave the plant with product, payroll couldn't process, vendors weren't paid, health benefits weren't managed, etc etc. There were a number of times I (as IT) had to scramble to fix those lowly processes like payroll that nobody thought about, but everyone likes the money in their account for some reason. :) Where things are today - no IT, no ability to do business.

          --- Data transfers going in and out of the Database servers is the centre of their universe (and every other company anymore).

          * Bills of Lading, Metallurgical reports, etc etc for product coming in/and out of plants

          * Invoices coming in and out

          * Bank Transfers

          * Health Insurance claims

          * Payroll

          * Export and import documentation

          * and the list goes on...

          The actual 4 critical departments in this instance for day to day operation? Mfg Plants (who make the widgets for sale), Accounting, HR and IT. Everyone ELSE is effectively overhead (ala - optional if the above doesn't happen) all the way to the C-Suite. The problem is most of the stuff going on behind the scenes that gets them a paycheck is f'ing magic and few of the corp drones (including the regular IT staff that did desktop support) gets into how their sausage is made. :) Lot of effort goes into making systems *look* really simple while also being reliable.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: That sounds like the story of a madhouse

            The actual 4 critical departments in this instance for day to day operation? Mfg Plants (who make the widgets for sale), Accounting, HR and IT.

            HR day to day?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: That sounds like the story of a madhouse

              HR day to day?

              I didn't know they were active quite a bit until I managed their automated data transfers. Yes, (in the US anyway) someone has to process the healthcare stuff, approvals, and such which require more care and feeding than just monthly or biweekly. Presumably you like your dentist or doctor being paid so they continue to welcome you as a patient, or your coverage actually being in place so the insurance card is valid? :) Another one of those things that most people don't know that is going on behind the scenes.... They weren't just sitting on their butts when it wasn't payroll time. :)

          2. jason 7 Silver badge

            Re: That sounds like the story of a madhouse

            Ahh yes the Company Boss that happily shows off the new Company Jaguar saloon he gave himself to drive the four miles to work and then got into a fainting fit when you tell him he needs to spend £600 to replace the 10 year old Vista heap that the business runs off mostly.

            "Have you got something second hand or cheaper?"

        4. Conspectus83
          Flame

          Re: That sounds like the story of a madhouse

          Trend change (maybe!)

          The trend might just might be changing when it comes to paying attention to IT. There seems to be a dearth of Techies coming through and the costs in replacing a Techy is increasingly expensive.

          I'm just about to leave one job and they are offering me a pay rise. My thoughts are why am I not on this salary in the first place, so I wont be accepting it.

          I should feign at my modesty but I'm not going to since I know I can do a good job, willing to learn on the job, and put in a little extra effort to get things done. I work beside a mix of Techies i.e. some are only turning up for their pensions and other are there to do a good job.

          Management have introduced a retention bonus but that's only for Microsoft tech. I use Oracle and our team was not included but management are well aware how disgruntled the team is.

          Its an unfortunate situation that people have to leave before other people realise their worth.

          As I say that trend might just be changing and the other Oracle developers might be getting a retention bonus.

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: That sounds like the story of a madhouse

            I'm just about to leave one job and they are offering me a pay rise. My thoughts are why am I not on this salary in the first place, so I wont be accepting it.

            I learned back in the '70's to never, ever accept a counter offer from your employer no matter how good it is. They will use it as a wedge to treat you unmercifully and also put you at the top of the layoff list. I wasn't the one who accepted the counter offer, it was friend and within two years, he was not his old self but rather beaten down.

            1. Danny 14 Silver badge

              Re: That sounds like the story of a madhouse

              the other classic is staying up all night to get a fix/patch/install but being denied a late start because its company policy.

              That was the final time i worked out of hours on something that couldnt be prevented,the bosses soon started to ask me why there was a planned server outage during the working week and I happily brought up all the times I had requested funds for a redundant clustered set of servers so we could do rolling updates with no downtime (testing be damned, a lab setup was a pipedream of accounting).

            2. WallMeerkat

              Re: That sounds like the story of a madhouse

              Or accept the counter offer, but if you stay a while be aware that future yearly increment / performance raises will be less than what may otherwise have been offered, until you reach the point where 2/3% yearlies would've beaten the one off 10% a few years ago to stay.

        5. Jtom

          Re: That sounds like the story of a madhouse

          Same with R&D. Their costs were just losses to a company where I was in R&D. The salesmen were the golden children getting huge bonuses for selling what we created. Eventually, they cut expenses, including R&D, to increase the bottom line. I left for greener pastures. It only took a couple of years before there was no bottom line. No one wanted to buy outdated, obsolete products, and the company folded.

          This is why a good CEO is worth big bucks.

  3. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Deleting emails

    Some folks seem to want to keep every email they've ever received, for ever, just in case. Others (mia culpe) hate having cluttered computers and delete them asap - though sometimes it means not having the email you do need. I had to force myself to be disciplined and keep some where I might need them for evidence/reference later. .But also to have filing rules that put the blessed things into appropriate folders. The e-mail hoarders, at least the ones I had to deal with, just let them lie where they fell.In a very long in-box folder.

    1. Peter 26

      Re: Deleting emails

      I am that hoarder, but it's not because I want every email, it's just that I can't be bothered to sort them out. I have two types of email, read one and unread ones.

      I am thinking I should really delete all my work ones (>10 years) as I was once told at an Oil & Gas firm that we should delete everything after 3 years of the project ending so that our own email records couldn't be used to sue us in the future.

      1. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

        Re: Deleting emails

        I am a hoarder too, not for OCD reasons but because I have a lousy memory. 2 years down the line I will be damn sure there was a reason why I did X, X being not the obvious way to do something. Someone will want to simplify my solution and I'll just know that will break something. Will I be able to remember? Not a hope.

        1. rg287 Silver badge

          Re: Deleting emails

          I am a hoarder too, not for OCD reasons but because I have a lousy memory. 2 years down the line I will be damn sure there was a reason why I did X, X being not the obvious way to do something. Someone will want to simplify my solution and I'll just know that will break something. Will I be able to remember? Not a hope

          Surely that's all written down in your documentation? Yes, I've put a quid in the swear jar.

          On the one hand, it feels a bit lazy and untidy. On the other, falling storage costs have outstripped the time/effort required to be more proactive about it.

          I seem to recall Facebook never actually bother deleting photos or videos - they just de-index them from your profile because the cost/effort of purging a given object from their various storage systems and caches is greater than just orphaning them on the disk until that disk eventually fails and gets cycled out (they may also be keeping it shadow-linked for analytics, but that's another discussion). The hyperscalers are be applying such logic to media, and the same applies to e-mail for the rest of us.

          1. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit
            Thumb Up

            Re: Deleting emails

            Surely that's all written down in your documentation? Yes, I've put a quid in the swear jar.

            Wherever possible yes. The most common instance where it is not possible is on a drawing, there's no change history on those[1]. Sometimes a document referenced on the drawing closes the loophole but not always.

            [1] By which I mean a detailed list of changes in each issue with reference to the requirement for each change. Documents can contain that but drawings just have a list of issue dates.

        2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: Deleting emails

          Database programmer, and I don't remember what I was doing last week. And the time given for jobs doesn't allow for independent documentation. But if it's in my e-mail and searchable, that works - if I know what to search for...

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Deleting emails

        I've got every email I've ever received or sent. They are filed in a way that is meaningful to me, and yes the archive is encrypted[0]. Why? I dunno. It started back when the concept of email was still somewhat magical, and each one seemed important enough to keep. Now I just save 'em out of reflex. It's probably a pointless waste of disk space ... but then again, maybe a multiple-greats grandchild will find the archive an interesting view into my life.

        [0] Should be fairly easy for anyone to decrypt any year now.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Deleting emails

        "I was once told at an Oil & Gas firm that we should delete everything after 3 years of the project ending so that our own email records couldn't be used to sue us in the future."

        The alternative view is to keep them so that they can be used in your defence in the future.

        The choice made tells you a lot about the company.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Deleting emails

          "The choice made tells you a lot about the company."

          My employer recently moved to a 90-day email retention policy. Hmm. Thankfully I use the client's email system instead, and they have a much more reasonable 15 months policy. There's still a LOT of emails I save to disk for future reference.

        2. disgruntled yank Silver badge

          Re: Deleting emails

          Because all civil litigation attorneys act in good faith, and all civil jurors are sensible, level headed, and well able to evaluate evidence.

          Do operable fire extinguishers at a company tell you that the company has good sense about things that might start fires, or bad?

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Deleting emails

      I have every email I've ever sent or received, ever, back to... pre-2000 certainly, probably a few years before that if I dig around in my old Hotmail archives.

      Because... well, email is so small compared to everything else that there's no reason to delete them. Additionally, having a HUGE stock of source data means that an email from an old friend won't be put into spam by my Bayesian-filtering mail client. Plus... wow, I mean, does it save your backside. "That's NOT what we agreed, and I can prove it", say I, with instant narrow-down searches of nearly two decades of email in fractions of a second.

      In work, I make things work the same way. People tell me they are deleting their old email. Why? What are you hiding? Did you get the "you're running low on space" email? No? You know why? Because it's set ludicrously high - the point at which our 1000+ users would start to fill up the server's storage - and nobody ever reaches it despite having well-advertised, public addresses that thousands of customers and suppliers use to contact us all the time. I think in 4 years, that email went out twice, and both times it was "Yeah, you have a lot of email, but it's nothing in server terms. Don't worry about it." and I doubled their warning threshold.

      Because literally "server storage for email" divided by "number of users" gives me a potential average mailbox size in the 10's or 100's or gigabytes. And pretty much Exchange says that the average mailbox is less than 2Gb. So I can afford for some heavy users because almost nobody else is using the storage available. Their roaming profile, however, could well be in the 10-50Gb size, even WITHOUT the documents folder (which is redirected to a network share).

      My email retention policy? Don't delete email. No point. You're going out of your way to permanently remove data that might be useful to you for no real reason... And sucking down even a 10Gb mailbox to a new machine is going to take... hold on... 1Gbps network... 8Gbits in a Gbyte... 80 seconds? That's just not worth worrying about for a one-off only on the machines that you've NEVER used before.

      And I don't worry about how users organise their own inbox. Why worry? It's up to them, hinders only them, and I have Powershell search tools that basically ignore folder structure anyway if I need to find something in them.

      To be honest, I have EVERY mailbox ever made on my system still present too. 4 years, and I have 80+ users come and go every year. Why do I keep them? Because that involves zero effort and provides safety (users do sometimes return, sometimes we need to pull things from old mailboxes, etc.) and costs nothing. If I was getting tight on space, I'd just archive the oldest of them off the live systems. I still wouldn't delete them, though, just put them somewhere else. And we have backups and archives and retention policies and all the normal so even users deleting every email (rather than just throwing it into a folder to get it out of the root inbox) makes no practical difference to the size of the storage required for the mailboxes.

      IT people whose systems are so underspecced, and who have so much time on their hands that they worry about a handful of old email for a few dozen users who keep everything? They really need to re-evaluate their systems and working practices. If you're on a budget, just archive mailboxes once a year and throw them on a cheap NAS, who cares? At least you'll still have everything.

      But literally my users are instructed "Don't delete anything, there's no point. And especially not email, which is so tiny as to be pointless". You desperately need storage (unlikely, we don't quota either)? Then a video is the size of a thousand photos, which are each the size of a thousand documents. So long as you're not emailling around video directly (you idiots), don't worry about it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Deleting emails

        "well, email is so small compared to everything else that there's no reason to delete them"

        An interesting approach. I assume you have set your clients to not have local mail caching turned on then? I work in a "certain environment" where we are subject to DPAR and FOIA and, as such, email retention is a subject of some discourse. Our end users also use a range of devices to access mail and calendars, many of which are shared with support staff of various kinds. As such, we are caught between either providing email with no local caching, which can lead to asynchronous abberations (appt. in one calendar may not immediately appear in an instance of that calendar on another device, especially if its a sodding iPhone) or turning caching on in which case we're looking at ever expanding .OSTs and, ultimately, complaints that the device is slowing down over time (yeah, your profile is expanding...). Add bloody OneDrive/SharePoint synchronization into that mix and its fun and games all day.

        These days, my approach is to try an persuade everyone to use o365 portal. That makes it M$'s problem.

        1. Adrian Harvey

          Re: Deleting emails

          >or turning caching on in which case we're looking at ever expanding .OSTs

          Newer versions of Outlook (2013 and 2016) allow for partial offlining into OST files - ie: keep the latest n MB of emails cached, leave the rest on the server.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Deleting emails

        "I have 80+ users come and go every year. Why do I keep them?"

        Blackmail fodder?

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Deleting emails

        every email I've ever sent or received, ever, back to... pre-2000 certainly

        My home email server only has emails back to ~1998 - because that's when I had a major disc-crash and had to rebuild the server from scratch.

        But I keep my inbox relatively small and archive/discard stuff every so often.

      4. ridley

        Re: Deleting emails

        Just the other week my new boss told me that she hates email and would prefer everyone to talk to each other. Well she would wouldn't she? All the more reason to follow up any conversations with thoso who must be obeyed with a "Thank you the recent chat. Can you just confirm my understanding that ..... " type email.

        My advice: never delete email and always back it up. I have been able to help myself out of tricky situations ie prove what was actually said too many times by emails that others would have deleted long ago.

        Just say No.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Deleting emails

          "Can you just confirm my understanding that ..... "

          If your email is ignored it could be construed as not confirmed. Just say "My understanding is that.." and put the onus on them to reply if they disagree.

          1. shedied

            Re: Deleting emails

            When I worked in the cubicle farms before, one of my Friday afternoon rituals was reviewing what has to be done by somebody-more-capable, then pitching an email in that guy's direction so that he would have to double check what his tasks were for Monday. Chances are, if it's not in MY Inbox, it's on someone else's todo list early next week.

      5. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Deleting emails

        pre-2000? pah! I say. I have my emails from the late 1980s, and somewhere somewhere on an old BBC disk I will have some email-type-file from 1985.

      6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Deleting emails

        But literally my users are instructed "Don't delete anything, there's no point. And especially not email, which is so tiny as to be pointless".

        And not forgetting, of course, that in many jurisdictions there is a corporate responsibility to retain all emails up to some age threshold whether the user has deleted them from their own mailbox or not.

    3. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Deleting emails

      Some folks seem to want to keep every email they've ever received, for ever, just in case. Others (mia culpe) hate having cluttered computers and delete them asap

      There is a third category. My dear old Mum had the habit of using the Deleted Items folder as an online archive. Once an email had been read, she would delete it. When she needed to refer back to it, she would go into the deleted items folder and dig it out.

      That sort of worked, until the mail client (I can't remember which one she was using - she insisted on having something slightly obscure, the same as she'd used on her office PC when she was working) decided to do some admin itself, and purged some older emails from her deleted items folder.

      In the end, I solved the problem by hiding the deleted items folder from view, and creating a new regular folder called "Deleted".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Deleting emails

        About 20 years ago whilst working on an email migration we had one of our customer's senior staff doing the same thing - using the Deleted folder as an archive.

        He wasn't best pleased when he encountered the empty Deleted folder of the new email client; cue one of those 'difficult' conversations explaining that using the Deleted folder as an archive probably wasn't the best idea...

        1. Little Mouse

          Re: Deleting emails

          "using the Deleted folder as an archive"

          I've seen a contractor fired for "helpfully" emptying a user's Deleted Items without asking first.

          Any sympathy I had for the guy was quickly quashed when I heard that, to avoid any blame, he'd told the upset user that he was me before leaving site. Twat.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Deleting emails

            "using the Deleted folder as an archive"

            I would say to the user something like "you wouldn't keep important paperwork in a litter bin and hope that people won't "helpfully" empty it for you?"

            1. DamnedIfIKnow

              Re: Deleting emails

              Funny you should say that.

              In my old firm, around 20 years ago, we were frantically busy over a weekend and trying to calibrate some equipment over and above the normal spec. It was like herding cats because as soon as one parameter was what we wanted another one would drift out.

              The test gear output results on a continuous 'till roll'. My boss - whose temper could go nuclear in one second flat - had it happily spooling into a convenient waste basket below the bench, and took himself off for breakfast.

              While he was away, in came the cleaner...

              Luckily the results were retrieved, but I thought we would need at least one ambulance before the day was out, if only for the onlookers who were going into shock!

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Deleting emails

          "using the Deleted folder as an archive."

          If their reading ability is such as to not understand what "Deleted" means then they're probably not getting much value out of any of any of their email anyway.

          1. Lilolefrostback

            Re: Deleting emails

            To be fair, modern operating systems and email clients have degraded the meaning of "delete". When I first started using computers, if I deleted a file, it was deleted (okay, the actual bytes probably had not been overwritten, but the linkages in the allocation table were gone). Same thing with an email. Now, they are simply moved to another location and can be retrieved as needed.

            We, here, understand that this is to help us recover from mistakes, which are far too common. Users, well I tend to refer to them as muggles for good reason.

      2. Keith Langmead

        Re: Deleting emails

        "There is a third category. My dear old Mum had the habit of using the Deleted Items folder as an online archive. Once an email had been read, she would delete it. When she needed to refer back to it, she would go into the deleted items folder and dig it out."

        Oh so much this! I've seen SO many customer do this with their email, and they can never grasp why it's a bad idea. Especially fun when you migrate email between systems, and select not to export/import the deleted items... then once finished get asked why their email is now missing!

        1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: Deleting emails

          "There is a third category. My dear old Mum had the habit of using the Deleted Items folder as an online archive. Once an email had been read, she would delete it. When she needed to refer back to it, she would go into the deleted items folder and dig it out."

          My brother uses the "drafts" folder.

        2. Lilolefrostback

          Re: Deleting emails

          No offence intended, but if you KNOW that some users use their Delete box as long term storage and you actively choose NOT to migrate their "deleted" mail, you are acting in an unprofessional manner. Worse still, instead of building your working relationship with those users, you are tearing it down.

    4. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

      Re: Deleting emails

      An old client used to 'archive' his email by deleting them. "They sit in the deleted items folder and it's just one button to press"

      Until OSX mail decided to tidy up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Deleting emails

        An old client used to 'archive' his email by deleting them. "They sit in the deleted items folder and it's just one button to press"

        Until OSX mail decided to tidy up.

        Let me guess...he had bad practice, the OS did some sensible housekeeping.....and somehow it was *your* fault?

        1. jason 7 Silver badge

          Re: Deleting emails

          I got moaned at by a boss because actual Spam emails were going...to the Spam Folder.

          "Yes but is the spam in your Inbox? No, it's in the Spam folder which is hidden away so you don't see it okay? Working as intended!"

    5. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Deleting emails

      It is essential to archive every single e-mail at my job.

      Because that's the training, you see. When I get to that day where every problem I come across is a mistake I made in the past and documented in an archived e-mail, I'll know I'm fully trained.

    6. Philip Stott

      Re: Deleting emails

      Sounds like my wife. Last time I looked (I'm her BOFH, not nosy) she had 10,000+ emails in her inbox.

      1. ridley

        Re: Deleting emails

        10,000? Pah!

        Any bids higher than 247,000 UNREAD emails in their inbox?

        (and there are about 20 folders for sorting....)

      2. ITS Retired

        Re: Deleting emails

        10,000+ emails in her inbox? I think mine has that many unread ones. She seldom deletes anything. Over 15 years worth of (web-mail) e-mails.

        If she doesn't think it demands her immediate attention, it often goes unread. When ask about it, she will then find and open it.

    7. Tinslave_the_Barelegged

      Re: Deleting emails

      At one company for which I worked, we generally kept check on mail users whose archives were above 5GB, which seemed a reasonable figure (this was 10 years ago). Any use above that resulted in a chat with the user, to make sure that we weren't backing up and DR'ing cat videos, or, as in one case, supporting his moonlighting activities. One mail user's space approached 12GB. He was head of the compliance department. He was aware of retaining pretty much all email, the result, he said, of having been involved in a complex case where emails had been deleted, and which was a nasty enough event to have a profound effect on him. I asked him if he wanted a more robust email archival system. He said, not, he preferred to maintain it himself. I wished him well and we flagged his use as appropriate.

    8. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Deleting emails

      Yeah, I do keep all my mail* indefinitely, ever since my 14400 baud modem days. What of it? My storage space, my mail, my rules. And no, I don't keep them all in the Inbox - I have a few categories in different folders, each one is a different file and that's that. Even so, compared to the whole drive's capacity, the mail folder is basically a rounding error.

      * well not quite; I do get a certain amount of advertising fluff that isn't quite spam and other random notifications eg. about forum messages and such - no, I don't keep those. Anything related to an actual online transaction (ie. anything I chose to get actively involved in) or any personal correspondence is however definitely kept.

    9. Bob Wheeler
      FAIL

      Re: Deleting emails

      I've seen support calls with "email is slow" and when one of the guys goes to look finding 150k emails in the main inbox.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Deleting emails

        I used to be OCD about keeping my inbox clean, and filing away emails older than a few weeks I didn't feel I could delete yet in folders with imaginative names like 'save' but I found it was a lot easier to only delete the ones I obviously would never need (basically spam) and keep everything else. I decided that around 2006, because that's when my current inbox begins.

        Now if I need something, I search my inbox - turns out that's quicker that remembering if I put an email from someone I met on my 2001 trip to Scotland in 'save', 'golf', or 'travel' and looking in each... Current size is 1.9 GB, the one thing I still almost always delete are emails with large attachments :)

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Deleting emails

          "Now if I need something, I search my inbox - turns out that's quicker that remembering if I put an email from someone I met on my 2001 trip to Scotland in 'save', 'golf', or 'travel' and looking in each"

          Archive complete years. Then you don't need to search your complete inbox, just 2001. Which reminds me, must archive 2014. And 15...

    10. Raphael

      Re: Deleting emails

      I hoard emails. It's saved us several times when we have been able to bring an email proving to a client that a certain action was taken on their instruction (sometimes years latter)

    11. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Deleting emails

      Problem with that is, apart from obviously banal emails, you never know what you'll need to keep.

      I constantly find myself forwarding on emails sent four years ago as evidence of a decision / instruction / order, and I send hundreds of emails a day to a wide network. As such, my archive is frankly ridiculous but until people stop trying to dodge around stuff, I'll continue to need them.

    12. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @terry6

      "Some folks seem to want to keep every email they've ever received, for ever, just in case."

      I'm sure many don't have a choice. European law demands that things such as e-mails are kept within companies for at least 2 years. Also known as the data retention directive, see here.

      In Holland this has even been raised to 3 years. With special thanks to Europe of course.

      1. Tom Paine Silver badge

        Re: @terry6

        Data Retention DIrective? Interesting, ... There's no such law or regulation in the UK that I'm aware of, or is there is everyone ignores it. (Corner cases,and exceptions exist eg FIs have to keep archives of all voice, IM and mail communication by brokers, traders etc so the Dibble can collar them if anyone notices they're up to no good, for varying lengths of time depending what they're doing, but up to 7 years for some. The old DPA says you should dispose of all PII (which would include mail of course) promptly, as soon as you have no further business use for it. DUnno what case law / precedent says about company mail. Remember the massive NI email archive purge that happened when they realised the cops were coming for them over hacking? ISTR the instruction was to delete everything up to Dec 31 the previous year, so less than a year old; evidently that wasn't illegal.

    13. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Deleting emails

      Terry 6 frowned upon, "The e-mail hoarders....just let them lie where they fell. In a very long in-box folder."

      With MS-Outlook, the In-Box is indexed for searching. So an old email can be found by typing a few keywords into the Search box. Typically takes mere seconds to find the required reference. That's why I use the approach that you frown upon. It's efficient.

      Some of my more OCD colleagues create elaborate hierarchical structures of email folders. Then they struggle to search within the various folders where the required email might be squirrelled away. Takes at least minutes, and often they're totally unsuccessful. It's especially funny when they walk over to ask me to help them find a copy, which takes seconds.

      But don't get me started on a rant questioning why MS-Outllook doesn't seem to include the Search index within the saved PST files. Open a PST file (e.g. years gone by) and it can't find anything unless you leave it alone over a long lunch. After lunch, the Search index is rebuilt, and searching is a treat. Close the PST, and it dumps the index. Might have to take three lunch breaks in one day.

      Acknowledge in advance that there may be details and Company IT decisions contributing to these symptoms.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Deleting emails

        "But don't get me started on a rant questioning why MS-Outllook doesn't seem to include the Search index within the saved PST files."

        Seamonkey email client (similar to Thunderbird). Just opened the 2009 archive, note the first title, search for one partial word on the complete account: that email and several other matches from other archived years found about as quickly as it took to put them up on screen.

    14. Keith Langmead

      Re: Deleting emails

      "Others (mia culpe) hate having cluttered computers and delete them asap - though sometimes it means not having the email you do need."

      Like my favourite where they contact support about an email they've received (but don't forward it to support), and when you investigate you find they've deleted it already and emptied deleted items.

    15. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: Deleting emails

      Somewhere I have a backed-up export of all my old Compuslurp email. Back when I had to deal with UPC codes I had one particular message that gave me a formula for calculating UPC checkdigits, and multiple times had to go back to my CIS mail for reference like that. Somewhere also have a message there from JMS himself.

      But I do occasionally purge out emails (especially after a search for something brings up ancient notifications I dont need). It's also fun to find old technical/customer support exchanges where I was chewing someone or another a new asshole.

    16. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Deleting emails

      My personal and professional policy is to keep emails from only certain people/groups or for certain topics (billing emails e.g.). Otherwise, it is deleted. If it looks like something I might reasonably need, I keep it.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Deleting emails

        Email hoarders I assume are not on the distribution list for a monitoring alert system that can get particularly noisy at times and dump in a couple of thousand new messages over a weekend.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: Deleting emails

          monitoring alert system that can get particularly noisy at times

          I have a couple of these at work. It's fairly easy in Outlook to filter non-urgent messages into a folder and keep the urgent ones in my main inbox (so I notice them!), the huge problem is that since a couple of Outlook updates ago I can't find a way to make Outlook automatically expire just certain folders based on age. It makes no sense to keep the non-urgent messages from one system for more than (say) three or six months, but because Outlook won't auto-delete based on age, I have to go in there and do it manually every now and then.

          Any hints gladly received! IT claim it's because the Outlook clients we are using are not the same version as the server backend, but they show no sign of doing anything about it, other than a vague promise to move to o365 at some point. Not really looking forward to that.

          M.

    17. Dave K Silver badge

      Re: Deleting emails

      I'm a bit of both. I keep most e-mails in my inbox (a few important ones aside that get filed in folders), plus several automated ones with big attachments (regular reports etc) also get sorted into folders. Then every year, I move all the old stuff to a fresh PST for that year and nuke a lot of the repeated e-mails with big attachments that I know I'll never need again. Result is a roughly 5GB PST for each year, and after a few years have gone by without me needing an old PST, I eventually delete it.

      I find it gives me the right balance between managing old e-mails, not wasting too much time filing everything, but still having access to an old e-mail if I need to find it.

  4. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
    Alert

    Reminds me...

    .... of the Cabinet Office...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Was also email admin (ClearOS) for a site.

    Gentleman's agreement was that we will provide email services - but they never discussed terms of payment etc.

    So I sort of "neglected" this email server, causing loss of archived emails *grin*

    Which caused quite a big ruckus, and then the impetus was there for that specific site to migrate over to a paid-for email provider. I'm happy, one less responsibility for which I was not getting paid for, and it it somebody else's fun and games to provide email support to those users.

  6. jake Silver badge

    Sometimes it's the Boss that is offline ... and he doesn't notice.

    After one consulting job, I didn't give a Sr. VP of a Fortune 150 the password to his brand new, triple-headed, US$7,500 desktop PC. This was back in 2007. He never even tried to log into it for the four years that it sat on his credenza, artfully cycling through screensavers. How do I know? Because I'm the only person who ever had the password. He never asked me for it, and his secretary refused when I offered it to her ... Over that four years, about once a quarter he called me up to take a look at it under warranty because "it did something funny". When I checked the logs, the last person to login was myself ... three months earlier. So I closed it down, opened it up, vacuumed it out, buttoned it back up, turned it on, cleared the logs and proclaimed it "fixed", The Boss thanked me every time. The secretary & IT staff also thanked me every time I came out, for keeping him out of their hair. I almost wish that I allowed them to renew the contract after the four years ...

    There are others in similar positions of power who make a big show of "checking the computer", even though their network cable was "accidentally" never installed. Free hint to all consultants: ALWAYS ask the secretary about the Boss's computer knowledge. You can save a lot of time and trouble for a lot of people over the long haul.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Sometimes it's the Boss that is offline ... and he doesn't notice.

      Free hint to all consultants: ALWAYS ask the secretary about the Boss's computer knowledge.

      Where do I find these "secretaries" in 2018?

      1. Killfalcon Silver badge

        Re: Sometimes it's the Boss that is offline ... and he doesn't notice.

        They're generally called "Personal Assistants" these days: just ask for the PA.

        If you can't find one for this Boss, find another boss nearby and ask *their* PA. They'll know.

  7. imanidiot Silver badge

    Stories like this reinforce my strong belief that in any company that has a tier you'd call upper management they aren't actually needed for the continued survival of a company. They could all drop dead tomorrow and the company would just merrily keep ticking along. Sure they have a value in pulling in new clients, for long term strategies and for keeping an overview (if they are actually doing their work) but little of that has any effect on the day to day operations. Replace them with new people with NO idea what the company does and the "underlings" will have them up to speed in no time flat.

    1. jake Silver badge

      It's easy to spot the useless management.

      They are the ones who think PowerPoint is a useful business tool. If they were all fired today, world-wide, come Monday morning nobody would notice but themselves.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: It's easy to spot the useless management.

        "nobody would notice but themselves."

        They might not notice. They could just keep showing each other PowerPoints.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's easy to spot the useless management.

        If they were all fired today, world-wide, come Monday morning nobody would notice but themselves.

        http://catb.org/jargon/html/L/lion-food.html

      3. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: It's easy to spot the useless management.

        They are the ones who think PowerPoint is a useful business tool. If they were all fired today, world-wide, come Monday morning nobody would notice but themselves.

        Accounting would probably notice since the power bills would suddenly drop.

    2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      What are the bosses useful for...

      "in any company that has a tier you'd call upper management they aren't actually needed for the continued survival of a company. They could all drop dead tomorrow and the company would just merrily keep ticking along."

      Ah, you're missing the point slightly. Those *roles* are required, and have competent staff doing them. That's what the secretary/PA/EA does, the actual boss administration.

      The actual manager is just a feelgood figurehead. You could easily substitute a friendly dog instead, but it's more useful having a suitable dumping ground for people who need to be kept away from anything important.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      They could all drop dead tomorrow and the company would just merrily keep ticking along run much better.

      The alternative view.

    4. rg287 Silver badge

      Sure they have a value in pulling in new clients, for long term strategies and for keeping an overview (if they are actually doing their work) but little of that has any effect on the day to day operations.

      To be fair, that's quite often why they're brought in.

      For instance a company that makes diggers pulling in a couple of executives from an automotive or aerospace manufacturer. On the one hand diggers, cars and planes are quite different - diggers are a primarily B2B industry, cars B2C, and the scales of manufacturing (units/day) are often off by an order of magnitude.

      On the other hand, if you're in a transitional phase of introducing more automation/robots onto your lines, introducing the Toyota Way/Kaizen/something, making your cabs more comfortable/automotive to give you a differentiation vs competitors or introducing complex telematics and remote monitoring then the actual engineering distinctions are not that relevant and domain specialists bringing experience from other industries add value.

      If they dropped dead tomorrow everyone would carry on building diggers, but bringing in leadership experience from other domains obviously has it's own strategic value. If they're doing their job.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "bringing in leadership experience from other domains obviously has it's own strategic value"

        In too many cases these days the leadership experience being brought in seems to be to cut all costs that give the business an ongoing future and cash in on the businesses reputation for as long as it lasts.

    5. Andrew Moore

      There has to be a way to outsource the entire tier out to India...

      1. shedied

        outsource the tier to India

        That's not a bad idea; a co-worker/contractor told me that over there in his country, "You throw a rock into the air, it is likely to hit an MBA when it comes back down."

  8. AustinTX
    Facepalm

    Illuminati Online

    I worked for this semi-famous ISP, io.com, launched with money won from a lawsuit against the U.S. government. Their parent company's equipment had been seized and wrecked, based on a false claim that they were training hackers. It was just a role playing game, ya know. You rolled your dice to see if you'd "hacked" the "mainframe", etc.

    Their mail cluster wasn't up to snuff and stopped delivering throughout the business day. Nothing but angry customer calls and our lies to them about "nothing we see on our end". Similar problem with newsgroups, which they gave up hosting in-house and outsourced. Their servers and fileshares weren't really set up with reasonable permissions, and you could literally telnet in, without a password, and browse customer's files. This even continued for some years after they had supposedly "hardened" so they could offer network security. Those servers were just a bunch of middling Pentium machines in cheap beige plastic cases sitting on shelves. The original modem pool was literally a bunch of 14.4 modems on a rack.

    The above is an abbreviated account, you can visit this archival copy of their old website at io.fondoo.net if you like. Lots of pics!

    1. gotes

      Re: Illuminati Online

      Wow, you weren't joking about the array of crappy beige PCs.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Illuminati Online

      Wow... memories. I worked at a similar mom-and-pop ISP around that time. Loved the Cisco 36xx series routers.

      Biggest quibble with their business practices: if you're going with a biblical server naming scheme, then Shirley your alt.binaries.* feed should live on a server named Sodom.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    Dumbest dot com bubble company I've ever seen

    I used to spend a lot of time in the Florida Keys - for those not in the US this island chain extending from the tip of Florida to within 90mi of Cuba is a bastion of warmth, fishing, boating, free thinking, and general freedom from responsibility.

    On a sunny day, do not expect to use the services of a tradesman - they will be fishing. Most days are sunny.

    And there, on Lower Matacumbe Key, was the strangest dot com ever: "efish.com". That's right! You order your fish online, they go out and catch it, and deliver it to you. Note this was before the days of omnipresent parcel delivery. I think some bloke in a lorry just drove around and delivered fish. I think they were gone before the paint of their sign fully cured.

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Dumbest dot com bubble company I've ever seen

      Attempting to start any online business with inherent local clientele limitations (like personally delivering fish ought to be) is a monumental mistake. It's fine if you're merely tacking a webpage onto an already flourishing local business but it has zero hope of ever taking off if it can't even take advantage of at least national (and preferably worldwide) market coverage...

      1. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

        Re: Dumbest dot com bubble company I've ever seen

        @DropBear, excellent point and one to consider carefully. I thought these guys were just a tax dodge to write off fuel for a bad fishing boat habit, but no - they actually had a truck running around. Briefly.

      2. gotes

        Re: Dumbest dot com bubble company I've ever seen

        Ah, the old "[any business] - but on the internet!" model.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Dumbest dot com bubble company I've ever seen

      for those not in the US this island chain extending from the tip of Florida to within 90mi of Cuba

      Thanks but Florida Keys are quite famous outside the US, and generally people outside the US have a decent knowledge of the world outside their own country.

      1. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

        Re: Dumbest dot com bubble company I've ever seen

        Fair enough, and my intent is not to be condescending. At the same time is it not reasonable to provide some context?

        As I move around the world its amazing the difference between what would seem a reasonable level of knowledge and our actual experience. Example - when I was living in New York I would travel to Ireland and run into people with relatives in NYC and get questions like, "Oh! You're in New York? You must know...." How do you explain the scale of New York? Or for that matter London, etc.

        Flip side was a surreal conversation I had with a 20-something Iraqi gentleman outside Ar Ramadi. Late 2005 - definitely not a happy time for Ramadi... We're discussing by flashlight in the middle of absolutely nowhere our favorite restaurants in the Hells Kitchen district of Manhattan. In his NY-accented English he's giving me tips on how to best negotiate prices on flats in Brooklyn.

        The world can somehow be extremely small and large simultaneously.

  10. Christoph Silver badge

    All emails, including attachments, were automatically copied to the boss. And also to an archive. Nothing was deleted.

    When sales and the boss wanted to discuss a document that was on the file server, they sent it to each other as an email attachment rather than just linking to it..

    Eventually the overnight backup didn't have enough time to run because the multiple email copies were taking so much space. A better backup system was not obtained because it would cost some fairly trivial amount of money (this was a company that made the techs (but not sales) put old printouts back through the printer upside down to save on paper (which meant they had to pay out for a new drum when it got damaged(possibly by paper with a staple being put through))).

    When the server died, the latest backup was a month old. It cost a lot of money sorting out all the missing stuff and calming the clients.

    A year later, out of interest, I checked with the hardware guy. The latest backup was still that same one, now 13 months old.

  11. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    Serious career advice

    Should go without saying - anything emailed to you that tasks you with anything unethical, illegal, or immoral needs to be printed upon a pulped and flattened tree ... witnessed ... and securely stored.

    Saved my ass and those of people I regard once. We were tasked by a sociopath with doing some things a little beyond the pale. We refused, dirty deeds were done, and we got hit with the nitrogenous waste as it left the rotating aspirator -- only to find that the organization's mail servers had mysteriously lost everything. But we had duly signed and countersigned dead tree backup! Worth its weight in gold.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Serious career advice

      And "securely stored" doesn't mean in a locked file cabinet or desk drawer at work. Take the stuff home and lock it a secure lockbox. I've seen a few cases where someone stashed the stuff at work, and when the lawsuits hit, they're data storage was empty as was their email boxes, etc. If it's for CYA, keep it safe and away from manglement.

    2. Lilolefrostback

      Re: Serious career advice

      Slightly beyond that: anything that requires your signature or that has legal implications, make a photocopy and take it home. I've done this, for instance, with every expense claim i've ever made. Why? The very first business trip I ever took was a very short (one day) trip. I claimed for parking at the airport and lunch at the far-end airport. My supervisor was irate as other folks would charge for two taxis and three meals for the same trip, and felt I should be charging the same. I never looked at my pay stubs for several weeks afterwards, as I was not certain what had been done. But I did have a photocopy of what I submitted.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We host a remote desktop environment for a customer to run Outlook in because the boss wants the illusion of control of the emails. It's actually connecting to Office 365.

  13. Olivier2553 Silver badge

    A data loss near miss?

    He nearly missed loosing all his data, but luckily, he did manage to loose them all :)

    There is a trend to use the expression "near miss" with the opposite meaning of what is intended.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A data loss near miss?

      Loosing and Loose? Why can people no longer spell lose. Losers.

      1. TomG

        Re: A data loss near miss?

        It would help if people would read what they had typed before posting.

  14. Uberior

    I have a colleague who has a brilliant attitude to email.

    He has two key automatic filters:-

    CC - "Thank you for CCing me to this email. In line with my personal effectiveness policy, I review CC'd email around once a quarter. It may be up to 90 days before your email is reviewed."

    Out of Office - "Thank you for your email, as I am now on holiday until xx/xx/xxxx, it has been automatically deleted. If you believe the matter is still pertinent after xx/xx/xxxx then I invite you to resend the email for my review."

    1. Louis Schreurs BEng

      Copied and stored for eternity, this very valuable policy , I recommend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    John.... is that you.....

    “was one of those types who can pick up any language in seconds and create complex projects in next to no time.”

    “The only problem was that he tended to write code with very little error checking while the whole company was basically in a permanent error state.”

    sounds just like someone I work with. Totally incapable of doing anything simple.

  16. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    I have email stores spanning my entire career. Certainly not *every* email I've gotten, but I have them. Backed up, two copies.

    And actually quite recently I've been looking at a couple of environments and helping to tidy up. There were three issues in one of those environments that perennially generate 'terror panic confusion' among the admins. I make the same recommendations each time I see these issues. In this (recent) case, the PM for the environment noted that the reply sounded familiar. I went digging. I found the emails containing the exact same recommendations sent out to the project(s), 6 years, 10 years, 12 years previously. I attached and forwarded copies.

    Fuck I've been here too long.

  17. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Many years ago..

    .. I briefly worked at the corporate arm of a big mobile phone company based in Berkshire.. One day, we decided to clean stuff up around the office.

    Upon opening a cupboard, we found an old Novell server humming away (and quite warm!). No-one knew what it was there for (and it didn't seem to have any data on it) so, after letting everyone know about it and waiting a couple of days, we turned it off.

    Come month-end, Finance were panicing (even more than usual!) - the billing cycle hadn't completed for the last week or so. After tracing the data flows, we discovered that there was an intermediate server that no-one seemed to know anything about - the sole job that the server did was to take data from one source and copy it to another... and that said server had stopped doing the data copy about a week ago.

    The data suspiciously seemed to coincide with when we switched off the old server in the cupboard. So we turned it back on again - and sure enough, after a couple of hours, the billing data started appearing again.

    Since the people who had set up the billing process had long since left (they had a *high* staff turnover) we had to get some more people in to fix the billing process so that we could remove the server. It took ages.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Many years ago..

      That sounds a lot like a standard IT tale I've read a bunch of times in a bunch of places. Sometimes saying Novell, sometimes saying VAX.

      1. Lilolefrostback

        Re: Many years ago..

        It seems to be a common issue: Create a service or scheduled task to do something useful, which is great, but there is no central repository that lists the service, what it does, where it lives, etc. So, once the person who installed the service leaves the company, or long enough time has passed that he's forgotten it, it is well and truly orphaned. I think that the concept of virtual servers compounds this issue, and greater is the need for a central list of these things.

  18. FuzzyWuzzys
    Facepalm

    Those loody annoying "Everything's Great Emails"!

    Email is like Homer Simpson's "Everything's-Alright-Alarm", it makes a screeching noise continuously all the time everything is working. People treat email and automated systems exactly the same way, simply letting the system fire off emails for every little status change. Each day there's 7,500 emails which no one reads. Until one day when there is a serious problem and it gets missed 'cos it's buried under the 7500 "Everything's Just Great!" emails!!!

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Those loody annoying "Everything's Great Emails"!

      You can't have enough Jenkins build results.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Those loody annoying "Everything's Great Emails"!

        One of my hobbies is correcting the transcripts on Ancestry and FindMyPast. The first time I happily spent an hour trawlling through my home town fixing the data, then took a break to have a cuppa and check my email - to find 350 'thank you for your correction' emails. Since then I set up an auto-delete rule.

  19. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    deleting email

    Back in the minicomputer days, I worked for a contractor supporting a federal (civil) agency. We had to purge email every few weeks, for Word Perfect Office kept all messages in a single directory, and beyond a few thousand files, response got to be terrible. This led to a couple of odd consequences.

    First, mail purges were tricky around the new year. It was easy for on operator on (say) January 5, 1993 to specify deletion of all mail created before December 20, 1993 rather than December 20, 1992, and so remove all mail. I ended up reverse-engineering the mailbox format and writing an ugly but effective program that would not purge into the future.

    Second, at some point it was thought desirable to save the emails of persons at a high enough level in the organization--perhaps the political appointees. I wrote an ugly but effective program for that also. However, we found that such persons tended to spend their last few weeks on vacation, so the program typically harvested nothing but broadcast emails.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's for people that "do" email ...

    I am increasingly meeting millennials who don't do email, but "prefer the phone".

    Makes me feel I wasted the 80s :(

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: That's for people that "do" email ...

      "who don't do email"

      Typing is difficult...

  21. Steve Cooper

    Ever since Outlook/Exchange 2010 sorted out the search function I've never worried about filing mail. I always have tens of thousands of mails in my inbox, fully instantly searchable - my own personal Google, especially as I email myself things I've learnt all the time.

  22. Prosthetic Conscience
    Trollface

    No wonder it kept running out of space

    If it ran off a disc

  23. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    I work in a place which issues a desk phone and a blackberry to everyone who needs one, yet everyone wants to do things via email and expect email to be a sort of chat app, to be responded to in real time.

    Real conversation in a meeting:

    Angry Bob: "Did you see my email? I sent it four hours ago!"

    Me: "Then I probably missed it. Was it about something important?"

    Angry Bob: "YES!"

    Me: "Okay, it's job one when I get out of this meeting. Sorry. Next time you have a rush job, if I don't respond in a timely manner just call me. My number's in the email address book and on my mail signature."

    Angry Bob: "I don't see why I should call you. I sent an email"

    Me: "Which I missed. I get around 500* emails a day. Easy to miss one. Sorry."

    Angry Bob: "I'm not going to waste time calling you when I've sent an email!"

    Me: "Okay. But before you cast that policy in stone, let's review. The email contained something that was important to you. I missed the email. This inconvenienced you, and according to your own account there have been four hours lost as a result. Had you called after, say, 30 minutes, you'd have wasted two minutes and been three and a half hours ahead of the game. Like you I have real work to do and do not monitor email in real time. If it is important to you to re-prioritize my work day around your request, a phone call is a good idea. But it's your choice."

    This same crew never read the "I did the job for you; here are the results" emails I send out, and call me hours later demanding I do the work I have obviously not done.

    * 500 emails include a bunch of mailed acks that certain server processes have run. This because when I took over this position I was assured by the manager that the guy I replaced had written and deployed several "critical" jobs - many of which were actually failing silently on line two of his script due to a deployment oversight but no-one knew because he sent STDERR to /dev/null (to stop him getting messages from STTY from his batch jobs in the server's email account - he also couldn't write a dot-profile to save his life apparently). Since these "critical" jobs only sent emails in the event some alarm condition was met, No Mail was Good News. Not.

  24. N.

    Paper better than bits

    The company I worked for obligingly stored hard copies of messages between my managers and the HR in my HR personal file. Here is an excerpt from an email sent by my manager to his manager, to the local HR director and to my local HR contact :

    « It is true that Nicolas has a "problem of principle" with any activity related to this product. Hence the initial idea to focus the second job offer on an activity related to this software [name deleted], as this would quasi-certainly lead to a refusal from him, whereas there is a real risk of his accepting an offer based on a pre-sales activity. »

    In plain English : « I'll make him an offer he cannot not refuse. »

    The judge was not pleased :

    « The Conseil de Prud'hommes de Grenoble, (...) after deliberating according to the law,

    SAYS that Mr. Nicolas [name deleted] was the victim of moral harassment,

    SAYS that the dismissal of Mr. Nicolas [name deleted] is null (...) »

    For an explanation of the "problem of principle", read this independent coverage (some French required) :

    https://www.lepostillon.org/Comment-un-salarie-peut-rester-dix-ans-sans-travail.html

    (Small clarification : the server maker, not the PC maker.)

    -Nicolas

  25. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Hoarder

    Yep I go through purges on occasion deleting stuff that's no longer of any use, keeping copies of older PC's or laptops as a VM just in case somethings needed (For defence purposes, if some snippet of tech info might be useful or just as a contact point)..

    This week as part of a super anal B/G check (They were quibbling about my 30 year old HNC & thinking it was a uncompleted (degree) course, despite it saying the qualification was awarded & what the subject grades were) I had to dig out the name of the agency I did some temporary PT work for 4 years ago.

    I had unfortunately purged all those e-mails relating to the work on the VM (I may have had a older backup of the VM on my NAS but wasn't within spitting distance of it), but at least found the agency by downloading old bank statements.

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