Gmail: 9 reasons not to archive messages


Gmail The official Google blog posted about why you should NEVER delete your gmail, and instead should archive it: 9 reasons to archive.

I don’t know why they want people to use more and more storage space on their servers (it’s almost as if they were making money by occupying more space).

Anyway, for any argument there have to be two sides so here are 9 reasons for why you SHOULD NOT archive your Gmail (in other words, reasons for why you should delete emails):

  • Protect the Environment – the more space that you occupy in your Gmail account the more servers Google will have to put up to provide that Space. The more servers there are, the more electricity they will consume. This will of course have a direct impact on the environment.
  • Protect yourself from Information Overload – you know how even Google Search gives you so many irrelevant results when you search. Well not everyone is a Google Search Ninja, and thus cannot arrive at what they are looking for easily. Similarly if you archive everything that you get in your Gmail, and God forbid if you have to search for something later on in life, you will be presented with so many emails in your search results that you will not even know where to begin.
  • Security Considerations – Say you don’t delete emails at all and archive them all. Say somehow you manage to be careless and someone hacks your account and gets access to your Gmail. Hmm, now this hacker can access all your passwords that have been sent to you by various sites all over the Internet. This hacker can access all the financial statements that you have received from your bank. You should delete sensitive information from your online account.
  • Do you trust Google? – Do you really want Google to have access to all these emails of yours? A lot of people don’t trust Google and for that reason simply don’t use Gmail. However, even if you do use Gmail, you should minimize your exposure by only saving those things which YOU think are going to be useful to you in the future.
  • Do you really want to? – Do I really want to archive all the emails I receive on my blog alerting me of pingbacks that I have received to my blog posts? Do I really want to archive all the daily digests that I receive from the various news sites that I have subscribed to? There are emails that will never serve you in the future. Delete them.
  • Some email is not meant to be saved – Those emails from your ex – you may want to delete them to get closure. Some emails come from really irritating people that you would rather delete then keep. What about emails that have your deepest, darkest secrets – do you really want to hang on to them? The Google Spam filter is not all that great so there are some that simply get through to your inbox.
  • The experts recommend deleting – Every GTD (Getting Things Done) talk I have ever heard on achieving Inbox Zero advocates deleting as part of the strategy. Even Google invites such experts to train their employees on how to manage their inboxes – see video here.
  • Because not everything that Google says is right - what can I say?
  • What if you changed your mind? – say you are of the type that never deletes emails. You start accumulating thousands in your Gmail account and suppose one day one of these reasons makes sense to you and you decide that you need to start deleting your emails – you will go crazy trying to figure out what to keep and what to delete. It’s better to do it on a daily basis so that you are not stuck with your decision later on.

Having said all this, I do archive about 40% of my Gmail. The message is that you need to decide what to archive and what to delete.


29 thoughts on “Gmail: 9 reasons not to archive messages”

  1. Yikes, you were really fishing for reasons at the end there. “Not everything Google says is right” and the fact that #’s 5 and 6 are identical? Come on.

  2. @CrashCore – Yes 5 and 6 are maybe similar…

    fishing for reasons? hmmm.. maybe, but Google said that not archiving is tempting fate :) (so mine are not so bad)

  3. I dont know why everyone makes such a bit business about archiving with gmail.
    1) The function is rudimentary.
    2) the inbox is so big, there is no need for archiving for the reason so that at the end we dont lose it.
    3) after archiving the e-mail still clutters the inbox…..unless you Label the e-mail in addition to archiving it. Otherwise you dont find it any more.

    It would be much nicer to have a 1-stop-button sorting the e-mail into self-created folders.

    One more improvement could be done for gmail which is, bigger attachment size….50Mb per file/e-mail

  4. Good one…. some of them are really true…. i think a mix of archive and delete is what we must do… keep only what you think will be needed in future… and anyways who needs to read mails older than 31 days…

  5. @Eireann You know, with that particular post I am starting to buy more and more in the conspiracy theory where Google wants us to really store our info so that they can control it later…

    @nitin Yes Nitin, I archive a lot of emails, but delete even more…

  6. @vaibhav,
    namaste, aap kaise hai,

    you are right, maybe gmail is not interested in people deleting e-mails for the sake of data collection.

    Thats why you archive.
    Then it is hard to find and you will keep those telephone numbers and private addresses forever because you forget that you had them.

  7. @Eireann
    main theek hun :)

    well in the interest of maintaining fairness, I am sure that Google wasn’t trying to advocate that you should never delete emails. They were just trying to draw attention to the archive feature.

    I just wanted to point out that I shouldn’t want to archive everything.

    @Subhas – thanks for your comments… and yes, Google just wants more and more people to use their service. that’s all.

  8. Hi Vaibhav,

    Thanks for writing the downside of archiving emails. I like the #1,#2 and #5. Labeling (only) imp emails will be better.

  9. Gmail’s Terms and Conditions document specifies that “Google also reserves the right to … preserve … any information …” and then goes on to list a whole bunch of things that it can use that information for.
    Essentially, this means that deleting an email only affects _your_ access to it, Google can (probably) still get at it if they really want to. This renders reasons 1, 3 and 4 obsolete.
    As mentioned above, a combination of deleting and archiving is probably the way to go.

  10. You missed the number 1 reason not to archive an email message: Litigation

    If you are ever sued (either personnally or via involvement with an activity at work) and your personal email become discoverable (which it ALWAYS does) then all 6 Gig of crap that you have ever stored anywhere will instantly fall into the hands of someone you don’t love, trust or ever want to talk to.

    Far fetched you say? Guess again. Millions of Americans are involved in lawsuits each year. Electronic discovery is a multi-billion dollar business – read up on a law firm called K. L. Gates and you will begin to understand. I work on the defense side of this business, and believe me, no one is safe from the Vampi…I mean lawyers. Archive at your own perril!

  11. @Owen – yes, that is true. But it may be reasonable to assume that they may not preserve all the information that gets deleted.

    @KC – yup, that is what I kind of meant when I said “Some email is not meant to be saved”…

  12. Well Vaibhav… Owen is right. If they wanted to keep more data they would. They don’t have to convince the user not to use the delete function. …nooob

  13. “What if you changed your mind?”

    ok, now change the perspective… if you are the type that always delete emails, you will go crazy trying and will NEVER read your deleted emails again.

  14. Isn’t google stating in Terms that they WON’T delete mails automatically from their servers EVEN if you delete them?
    In other words they could keep them forever if they want.
    I am very positive that I’ve read this in terms.

    And I think they’re actually making money of more and more mails. This is a massive database. In these times, databases are the most expensive and often unreproductable things. They won’t read it, but they allow their robots to read it – this is how they can give you the adds on the side of the page.

    But the more clever robot they produce, the more information they can use legally and for free. They can create and sell online shopping habits for example. Or sell information like “how many emails are containing the term ‘motorola’ these days?” for example. Clever robots perhaps could make very useful, anonymous statistics for companies about people’s habits. This way google could enjoy the pros of being a legal and accepted big brother. Their workers don’t know a word about you personally – but they could sell or use databases of any kind based on millions of people’s emailing habits and information provided by their robots. I don’t know if they’re doing this or not, but they could.

  15. @naxa – Let’s say Google does keep my emails forever even after I delete them. However, once I delete them, they can’t be accessed from my account – so no chance of someone finding out about my old emails if they got hold of my account (for example, my wife can’t read about my ex-girlfriends if I left my gmail open at home some day).

    The point that I am making is that you should delete if you don’t have a good reason to keep.

  16. I think the reason why google does not want you to delete emails is so that it can create a profile of the person who is using that email account. When the database is large, the profiling is more accurate. By profiling here I mean sketching the likes and dislikes of the person, so that Google can target ads to the user based on their preferences. Individual profile based advertising works better than random advertising.

  17. This is a sick consideration over gmail mail archiving. Your examples of not archiving emails is just like not to remember your past and just forgot it as it maybe regarding your EX (number 6). Not archive them because they’re not meant to be archived (how genius!!), and above them all, do you trust GMAIL or GOOGLE???! besides the security bulletins over the world that all says its the best secured around, half of the world are using it.

    1. Seriously – looks like you got out of your bed on the wrong side today.

      Perfect example of mail to delete was the notification that wordpress sent me of your beautiful comment.

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