Vaibhav posted this saying that it was a mistake for Gmail users to automatically hit the archive button instead of delete. (For those who don’t use Gmail, Google encourages users to archive old mail rather than delete it – so it’s still there for eternity should it be needed – I’ve accumulate 20000 emails since I begun using Gmail!).

Vaibhav’s rationale is as follows;

  • 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.

While this might sound silly – how much impact a 1kb email you ask – remember that the environmental impact of society is just the aggregate of all our individual impacts…

  • 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.

True – I probably have 1000 or so old TradeMe notifications – there is absolutely no reason for them to still be there. But they are…

  • 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.

Hmmmm – we all have lots of passwords to remember and in the absence of ubiquitous OpenID we need to record them somehow, no?

  • 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.

Yes but if we really have concerns about Google then we’d put nothing through Gmail – if we don’t trust them to not misuse our mail then why do we trust them to not duplicate our data to their own storage?

Me I’ll just keep on archiving – it’s a happy whose deleterious effects I can live with…

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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