Leave Messages on Server
Leave Messages on Server
"Leave Messages on Server" is a setting in all email programs that use POP3 to retrieve incoming mail. You will want to examine this setting if you use more than one computer or device to access your email.

For example, if you use Microsoft Outlook on your computer and also access your email with an iPhone, then this setting will be important for you.
Configuration in Microsoft Outlook

In Outlook, go to Account Settings.

  1. In the list of email accounts, double-click on the email account you wish to change (or, click on it once then click the "Change" button).
  2. On the next screen, look for and click the "More Settings" button.
  3. Next, click the "Advanced" tab at top.

You'll now see a screen like this:


Here, the option "Leave a copy of messages on the server" is NOT checked. This means that Outlook will download your incoming mail and immediately remove it from the server.

This poses a problem if you also use an iPhone to access your mail. Suppose you leave your Outlook running at the office while you're away for the day. You expect to receive you mail on your iPhone, but you don't. Outlook is downloading your mail and removing it from the server. When your iPhone checks the server for mail, there's nothing there.

To fix this, change the setting:


Once we check the "Leave a copy of messages on the server" option, the problem with the iPhone is solved -- there's mail on the server for it to retrieve.

But now there's another problem: as all mail is being left on the server, your mail account will continue to grow in size. Eventually it'll reach its size limit (the "storage quota"), after which no more mail will be accepted.

This problem is easily fixed with the next option:

Remove from server after 14 days:

Copies of mail for the last 14 days will be kept on the server, copies of mail older than 14 days will be removed. By setting this option you ensure that your mail account on the server stays within its storage quota. You can adjust the number of days slightly, to 20 or even 30, but don't set it too high.

It is extremely important that you set this option, else your mail account will stop working once it reaches its storage quota.

There's one more option you can choose to use:

Remove from server when deleted from 'Deleted Items':

In Outlook, when you delete an email it's moved to Deleted Items. If you choose to empty your Deleted Items folder, the email is permanently deleted. If you have this option checked, then Outlook will also delete the message from the server (even if it's younger than 14 days). You probably want to checkmark this option.

Configuration in Mozilla Thunderbird

The "Leave Messages on Server" option in Thunderbird functions exactly the same as in Outlook. Read the description above to understand how it works.

In Thunderbird, go to Account Settings, then click "Server Settings" for your account. You'll see a screen like this:


The options are phrased a little differently than in Outlook, but they do exactly the same thing.

For at most 14 days:

This is the length of time that copies of messages are left on the server. You can adjust it slightly, to 20 or even 30 days, but don't set it too high.

It is extremely important that you set this option, else your mail account will stop working once it reaches its storage quota.

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