Why you should avoid filing emails in the Outlook Deleted Items Folder

By: standss , Feb 21st, 2013

The first and obvious reason is because the deleted items folder is your virtual RUBBISH BIN.

Although it may be referred to as a folder in Outlook, it’s purpose is not for filing/storing emails which you might want to refer to later.

We do not store anything in the rubbish bin in the real world to grab it out later right… then why do it in the virtual world.

Here’s why you should NOT file emails to the Deleted Items folder?

  • Like its physical world counterpart (rubbish bin), the Deleted Items folder can be emptied very easily (right-click and then click Empty) causing permanent loss of your filed emails.
  • If your Outlook data file ever gets corrupted due to file size etc. automated recovery programs may try and empty out your Deleted Items folder which could result in the loss of your data.
  • IT Support people helping you with speed problems etc in Outlook may empty your Deleted Items folder before optimizing your file.

If you’re not going to refer to the email again and do not need to keep it (for legal reasons etc) then DELETE IT! Otherwise you need to FILE IT somewhere aside from Outlook’s Deleted Items folder (aka Outlook’s Garbage Bin).

Here are three better alternatives then filing to the Deleted Items folder:

  • For those who like to keep their filing simple, have one folder in which you file all your emails. (Give this folder a generic name like Filing or Old Emails or Archive) and drag emails to this folder for filing..or
  • For a more organized system, have different folders dedicated to projects, cases, clients, topics etc and then file the email into the relevant folder. You could use a addin like QuickFile for Outlook to file your emails quickly into dedicated folders.
  • Tagging your emails with keywords and using search (Gmail Style) is becoming the modern way of email organizing which has the benefits of both options mentioned above. You can keep all your emails in a single folder but tag it with multiple keywords like project name, client name etc. This keeps you’re your Outlook lean and clean. You can try EmailTags for Outlook if this method suits your style of email organization.

Use whatever method works for you but DO NOT USE DELETED ITEMS as a filing cabinet.

If you’re new to the idea of filing emails, I would also recommend that you download our free ebook 8 Simple Tips for Email Management in Outlook.

If you know of others who use their Deleted Items folder as a filing cabinet, feel free to share this post with them.

Do you do it yourself?

Please leave a comment if you have reasons for doing this.

One Reply to “Why you should avoid filing emails in the Outlook Deleted Items Folder”

  1. I have a Temp Storage folder where I put things that I hope never to handle again, but might need to look at within the next 3 months, so I’m afraid to delete immediately. In my prior version of Outlook I had a rule that deleted anything older than 3 months. That way, I’m only touching once most of what went into Temp Storage, but if I had to retrieve something (like a notice last month about a workshop I wasn’t going to attend, but want to share with a brand new customer). Of course, haven’t taken the time to reestablish the rule in my new (detested) version of Outlook.

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