Telstra's notoriously problematic email infrastructure is still not scalable enough to house email messages more than 120 days old and the company is deleting them to reduce storage requirements.
In an email to BigPond members last week subtly titled "Your old e-mails may be deleted," Telstra warned that messages older than 120 days could be deleted as soon as November 1 this year.
"This is a reminder that from 1st of November 2005, we will begin deleting emails in your WebMail inbox, sent items and deleted items folders that are older than 120 days (older than the 4th of July 2005)," the email states.
In a clear indication Telstra's storage systems are not scalable enough to handle the sheer volume of messages housed, the email says: "we do this to free-up storage space and assist the smooth operation of your Telstra.com WebMail service."
For customers needing to keep email messages longer than 120 days, Telstra recommends either storing them by moving them to the 'New Folder' folder in WebMail or using "an email application like Microsoft Outlook to download them to your computer." Instructions on how to do this were then referred to in the email.
"E-mails stored using either of these methods will not be deleted after 120 days," it states. "Please remember, however, that the 4MB storage limit on your WebMail mailbox remains unchanged."
This paltry amount of email storage Telstra offers its WebMail customers is in stark contrast to dedicated internet email services like Google's GMail. The free GMail offers more than 2655MB, and growing, of free storage "so you'll never need to delete another message." A GMail motto is "don't throw anything away."
Telstra spokesperson Warwick Ponder did not offer a reason why Telstra's infrastructure will not allow long-term message storage, but said the deletion of old emails, in addition to increasing capacity, is "prudent management of the email system."
"Most BigPond members use a mail client such as Outlook, which downloads mail from their inbox to their PC, so this will have no practical impact on their use of BigPond email," Ponder says. "It's also important to educate customers to regularly clear out their mailbox to reduce any risk of subsequent mail bouncing. Your email mailbox is like your Australia Post mail box, it's designed to receive mail, not store it."
Ponder said Telstra.com WebMail is offered as convenience to customers, while other "free" email services are funded through advertising revenue.
"A special symbol will be placed against any relevant email that is within 30 days of the deadline giving customers the opportunity to take steps to preserve the email if they wish to keep it," he says.