Do you Really Need Unlimited Email Storage? [ILFS Explains]

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All the email services have been growing in leaps and bounds in terms of features they provide. But perhaps, the one feature of E-mail services that has undergone a great transformation is, yeah you guessed it right – Storage Size. It’s one feature that has essentially obliterated the need for at least the casual users to access their E-mail via POP, as one of the big reasons people use (or used) POP is when the storage space on their E-mail service provider’s server is insufficient (See also: POP vs. IMAP). And that’s no longer the case.

Almost every modern E-mail provider offers its users UNLIMITED storage, and even the ones who don’t do it provide a hefty amount of E-mail storage. But which ever of these popular E-mail services you use, rest assured that you will hardly come even close to filling it up. Want to know why? Read on!!

Email Services

Unlimited Storage – How it all Started?

Well, those of us who’ve been using E-mail for quite some time must remember, the earliest iterations of E-mail products provided a very meager storage space. If memory serves well, I remember it was anywhere in the range of 3-5 MB. Oh C’mon, you guys!! stop laughing!! I know it sounds funny now, but that’s how it was. That’s one of the many reasons people used E-mail Clients, to access their E-mail via POP.

But then Google launched Gmail, and surprised everyone by offering a mammoth 1 GB of storage space (and that too, ever increasing) to everyone who signed up for its E-mail service. This was a big feature that led many people to race towards Gmail.

Obviously, veterans like Yahoo! and Hotmail had to do something to compete. So in response, both of them significantly increased their mailbox sizes, albeit in small steps. And as the prices of digital storage fell (yeah, for server storage too) the numbers kept on increasing and led to figures like 5 GB, 7 GB .. all the way up to UNLIMITED.

The Big Question – Why “Unlimited” storage is just a gimmick? And why you’ll probably never need it!!

Now, I understand that the inboxes of 95% of the E-mail users are filled up with thousands of E-mails, and hundreds of Spam mails (depends on what E-mail service you use), but let’s face it, for real, meaningful E-mail conversation, we’ll probably never require Unlimited E-mail storage. In fact, it might seem surprising, but a relatively small inbox space of 1 GB, or even 500 MB is all a serious E-mail user will ever need. Here are a few pointers to explain why I believe so.

  • For most of the casual E-mail users, 80% of the E-mail consists of meaningless stuff including, but not limited to Facebook Notifications, Status Updates, Twitter Notifications, Spam Correspondences (Those infamous Viagra ads!!), Newsletters from shopping portals, Discount coupons etc.
  • Most of the E-mail users use their primary E-mail for signing up for a multitude of needless services on the Internet, and in turn, suffer from the seemingly unlimited Junk Mail that their inboxes are bombarded with everyday
  • Real E-mail conversations, for all intents and purposes, majorly consist only of textual matter. Hell, they don’t even contain HTML formatted text or images.
  • If you want to share or send media files to someone, say a song or a couple of pictures, there are dedicated services to do that. And even if you need to send a song or picture through E-mail, there is no need to keep that in your “sent” folder forever

Do you really need UNLIMITED Email storage?

Probably not. With a few simple steps, about 1 GB or 500 MB storage space is all a normal E-mail user would ever need. Here’s a few simple things you can do to make sure your INBOXES look pretty, with just the conversations that matter, and not unnecessary clutter that will never be of any use to you.

  • Never use your primary Email address to signup for online services, Shopping Portals, Discount Coupon websites, Newsletters. Once your Email address gets added to their mailing list, it becomes really hard to get rid of the mess they make of your inbox. Make a secondary Email address for that, or better yet, use disposable Email services.
  • Barring few times, there’s only one thing that you should do when you see mails in your SPAM folder –  Hit the DELETE button!!. Rarely it happens that an important communication lands in your spam folder because of the high exclusivity settings of the filters in your E-mail. So make sure to double-check your spam folder, especially if you’re expecting an important E-mail for quite some time and it has not yet arrived.
  • There’s absolutely no point of having Facebook send you an E-mail every time someone likes your post or pokes you. That’s the reason you log-in to Facebook. So that you can keep track of these silly things there.
  • No matter what E-mail providers tell you, barring few important E-mails, you don’t really need to archive every single E-mail you receive. And certainly not when 90% of it consists of meaningless status updates and newsletters anyway.
  • Learn to use Filters in your E-mail, and block domains that regularly send bulk-mailers to your inbox. Better yet, mark them as SPAM so the SPAM filters learn your responses and they land in your SPAM folder, and don’t obstruct your workflow. 

This article is a part of series called ILFS Explains. In this series, we talk about basic commonly used tech things that might not be correctly understood commonly.


I’m sure that with rapidly decreasing prices of storage of all sorts (consumer and server), E-mail service providers would continue to push the storage limit further and further until every E-mail provider reaches the “UNLIMITED” threshold. But having read this article, I want you guys to consider taking a look into your E-mail inboxes, and ask yourself, do you really need all those GBs and TBs, especially when almost every time we use our Gmail, the storage capacity gauge says something like – “you are using 0.5% of your 15 GB limit”. And that too when, 15 GB is nowhere close to “UNLIMITED”

Do you guys receive so much E-mail correspondence on a daily basis, that you feel you require Unlimited storage? If yes, how do you deal with such a large influx of E-mail on a daily basis? Do you use filters and other advanced features? Let me know in the comments below.

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