Help me stop running out of space in Gmail.
December 6, 2011 8:33 AM   Subscribe

It is actually possible to run out of space in Gmail. Help?

We have our work email through Google Apps for Business. It's working great, but the issue that we're running into is two users are at about 60-70% of the 25 GB cap. No one else is anywhere near those numbers.

What is the best way to archive older emails and attachments for these two users so that it gets it out of their gmail but also exists in a format that we can access if necessary? I doubt that we will ever need to look at this info again, but we need to be able to access it just in case.

We have no IT department so it's been dumped on my lap and I'm not even sure of the right words to google. Advice would be greatly appreciated.
posted by crankylex to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I just came across Find Big Mail, which looks like a helpful tool for identifying archived emails in gmail which have the largest attachments, so those can be cleared out efficiently.
posted by Eshkol at 8:47 AM on December 6, 2011 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I am not an IT professional, but I have run out of space on a regular google apps GMail account. First thing I did was set up a second account for the user. Call it JohnnyGunnOLD. Then I used this program, FindBigMail, to see what was the issue. Then using IMAP (Thunderbird) I moved files that were old and huge from the original to the new "OLD" account.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:50 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: There are a lot of ways to do this. Here is what I would do, which is not necessarily the best solution, but will probably work.

1. Tell the users in question to create an "Offline Archive" (or whatever) tag in Gmail, and apply it to all the messages they want to move offline.

2. Let them apply the tag, hopefully to the majority of their messages. I'd start out searching with the "has:attachment" parameter, since I suspect that the users must have a lot of attachments in order to be using up that much space. (Also, any chance of reviewing with them some tips for not doing that? Or encouraging them to hit 'Delete' rather than 'Archive' on messages that are just being used to move a large file from one computer to another?)

3. Install Thunderbird and Import/Export Tools on some utility box somewhere. Probably cleanest if it isn't on the user's regular computer.

3a. Alternately, you can use Microsoft Outlook, but I'm not sure how much it will complain if you don't have an Exchange account when you set it up. You'll want to configure it to use the user's GApps account as IMAP. In my experience, Outlook's IMAP support is buggy which might make the process painful, but in the end you'll get a PST file which might be preferable if you're a Microsoft shop.

4. Set up the user's Gmail account in Thunderbird. Once you have it set up, click on the folder that corresponds to the "Offline Archive" tag that they applied in Step 2. Presumably it will contain a lot of messages -- you'll need to let the headers load (might take a while).

5. Right click on the folder, go down to Import/Export, Export Folder, and choose a destination directory ... the system will chug for a while, and what you'll get is an "mboxrd"-format file containing all the messages in the folder. You can back this up to a CD or something for the user. You may get a warning about the folder not containing all of the messages in it; I think this is erroneous as long as you have let the headers load completely.

5a. If you want to use Outlook, you'd want to set up an empty PST file, create a folder in it (maybe with the date) and then copy all the messages from the Google account's Offline Archive IMAP folder into the PST folder. I've found that Outlook is dog slow while doing this.

6. Once they have the offline copy in their hands, they can delete all the messages tagged as Offline Archive to reclaim the space.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:12 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Though if you can get away with running FindBigMail and encouraging them to delete some of the biggest stuff, that's a lot simpler than archiving!
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:15 AM on December 6, 2011

Find Big Mail is really, really useful. You can normally get back 15% by deleting just one or two mega mails. It's really ace.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:28 AM on December 6, 2011

Do exactly as Kaden 2408 says.

Plus make a backup with Mozbackup to create a backup of your offline mail. This is to ensure an offsite backup of the files in the event your computer crashes.
posted by handbanana at 11:19 AM on December 6, 2011

Kadin2048 has a great method for backing up a mailbox, but be sure the client is set to save mail for offline use.

IMAP headers are just that:- Headers only, which email clients usually retrieve from the server first in order to display the mailbox index. Actually retrieving the message bodies requires an additional fetch command being sent to the server, for each message (which is what happens when you select a message to read).

Just something to be aware of before discovering that your back-up contains all the information about who sent what subject to whom and when, but missing the actual message body itself.

See for a more technical explanation.
posted by dirm at 5:19 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding Thunderbird. See How To Back Up Gmail To Thunderbird.
posted by Susurration at 5:47 PM on December 6, 2011

Response by poster: I ended up using Find Big Mail, and backing them up with Outlook as that is what my coworkers are familiar with, which worked just fine. Kadin2048, Outlook was indeed dog slow and I cursed a lot, but it worked in the end. I will be using the Thunderbird method for my personal gmail.

Thanks so much everyone!
posted by crankylex at 7:03 AM on December 14, 2011

« Older Where or how can I find classic sports team /...   |   Recommend some British Mysteries to watch via... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.