The Best Practices for Email Management

by Mindi Orth

Email is a common form of communication, and proper mailbox management is needed to protect the data received. Used for both business and personal correspondence, email allows for the quick exchange of information. Keep that information safe and simplify the email experience by making time for basic mailbox management.

Stop Viruses

Keep antivirus and security software updated. Many viruses are received through email, and new virus threats are released regularly. Out-of-date software leaves your computer and data at risk.

Control Spam

Stop spam before it reaches your inbox. Most email providers offer some form of spam filtration that automatically moves suspect messages into a separate spam or quarantine folder. Examine spam folder contents regularly to ensure no messages have been categorized incorrectly. Review spam filter settings often as they can change without notice. Keep in mind no filter is perfect and some spam will find its way into your inbox.


Read each message and determine whether it can be deleted right away. Respond immediately to easy-to-answer messages. Flag those that require responses that can't be handled at the time, and place these messages in labeled folders within your mailbox to prevent them from getting lost. Also, file messages that require no responses but contain useful or desired information. One example of this email management best practice is to file all payment received notification messages in a folder labeled Payment Confirmations.

Manage Attachments

Save all necessary attachments to a specific location on your computer's hard drive. This email management best practice will ensure you know where the file is located and reduce the size of your mailbox. Saving attachments outside of your mailbox also provides protection against data loss resulting from accidental message deletion.

Permanently Delete

The delete key is a crucial email management tool. A best practice is to delete any message that is no longer needed. Deleting duplicate messages also is recommended. Don't forget to delete messages from the Sent Items folder. Be aware that items sent to the Deleted Items or Trash folder are not deleted immediately. Often these messages remain for a month or longer. Manually deleting the contents of these folders ensures messages are permanently deleted. Another method is to set the folder to automatically delete the contents when the email program closes, but this depends on the program being used and may not be an option for everybody.

About the Author

Mindi Orth began writing in 1996 as a technical writer for a consulting firm. She has experience in business documentation and has authored training and instructional materials. Orth holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Baldwin-Wallace College.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Hand on Mouse - Using the Computer image by evillager from