Why is my webmail slowing down?

Generally speaking, mail.bnt.ca is a fairly fast server - It's fast and it's connected to a very fast fibre optic network that can carry your information to you quickly no matter where you are. You can see this blazing response when you first start to use the various services provided. Over time, though, you start to wonder if things are slowing down? Why?

There are most likely two simple reasons for this: The main one is that you might have accumulated a large number of emails in your webmail account folders. The other one is that you might have a large number of filter rules that are being executed on each email.

Fortunately, the webmail service has special features to allow you to resolve these problems easily.

Over time, webmail users tend to create folders and store their email into them. Also, webmail users tend to create rules to automatically move low-importance emails into those folders. Unfortunately, because those emails are low-importance, webmail users don't get around to reading them all. So, after a few months, you find a few users on the server who are storing literally 100+MB of email, thousands of unread messages, in their accounts.

This does not reduce the performance of the pop server, so you can still download important mail from your inbox at the usual high speeds - but trying to browse your webmail starts to get slower and slower. At some point, I had several thousand messages in my various folders, over 130MB of email (with almost a hundred mail rules,) and it was crawling along at a snails pace.

To help deal with this situation, mail.bnt.ca includes a folder size extension to allow you to see the total number and size of your emails. An Archive feature has also been installed to allow you to download hundreds of emails at a time into a zip file for long term storage. To find out about these features, take a moment to browse through the options page of your webmail account.

The Folder Size function simply produces a report showing the number of emails in each folder and the total size of the emails in that folder. Using the settings in the Options page of your webmail account, you can turn on a folder size button that appears in your folder list. Clicking on this button will cause the folder size report to appear.

The Archive function allows you to select any number of emails and have them put into a zip file for easy downloading. You can then open that zip file and click on any email to see its contents. Check out the various options in the Options page of your webmail account: Among other options, you can select various formats for the emails (try them - eml works great if you already have a program like Outlook Express installed on your compute.)

Although archiving your mailing list and other low-priority emails is a good way to keep them handy, they're not easy to search while in a zip file. Therefore, Another solution would be to create folders for these emails in your desktop email software, then move them in bulk when it's convenient for you. This allows you to use your email software to search the emails for specific content.

To do this, you need simply to move the emails back to the inbox and download them from your usual desktop email software. Once the emails are in your desktop, it's a small matter to either create a rule to move them to an appropriate folder or just select and move them manually.

Remember that the emails in your webmail folders need to be moved to the webmail inbox so that you can download them into your desktop inbox. But, the emails that you haven't read are currently being processed by the mail filter rules. If you just move the unread emails to the inbox - the rules would immediately move it back to the current folder! To solve this problem, mark all the emails as having been read. Use the Select All or Toggle All options to select all the emails, then click on the Read button. Once all the emails have been marked as having been read, you can Select All or Toggle All again and move them to the webmail inbox. Don't worry, when the emails arrive in your desktop inbox they will all be marked as never having been read.

Once you have reduced the volume of mail in your webmail folders, you will see a significant increase in the performance of your webmail account. My webmail account, which is now empty, is back to running at full speed!