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The Mystery of the Disappearing Email

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Susan Salgy

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Updated: 4 Jan 2006

We recently heard from Dena S. who is perplexed and annoyed by the fact that email is disappearing from her mailbox without her having deleted them. Here's what she said:

"Help! My emails have been disappearing out of my inbox even though I have not been deleting them. Is it possible that when someone else whose name is on the email tries to delete their email a box comes up asking if they want to delete it from just their email box or All Email Boxes? Apparently people choose All Email Boxes, which would explain why email is being deleted without my knowledge.

"Is there a way that I can either stop someone from being able to delete stuff out of my email box without my knowledge OR just have a prompt come up warning me that an email will be deleted and offering me the option to keep it? I'm just trying to alleviate my missing email problem."

What Gives?

This is definitely not being caused by other recipients deleting the email from all boxes -- that would be a hideous security breach, and is simply not possible. On the other hand, the person who SENDS the email can retract and delete it from any mailbox where it is still unopened. This is mighty useful, if you're quick to notice a typo or other mistake in something you just sent, and you want to snatch it back and fix it before anyone sees it. But once a recipient has opened it, it's not possible for even the sender to retract it (and believe me, we've tried).

Here are some things that might cause email to be deleted from your box without your participation:

  • You haven't opened it, so it's able to be retracted by the sender.
  • You have set up some Cleanup Options that are automatically deleting or archiving your email.
  • Your GroupWise Administrator has set up some Clean Up Options for your whole company that are automatically deleting or archiving mail after a specified number of days. (This helps them to control the ever-burgeoning size of the Post Office.)

Here's what you do.

So, first make sure you open the email you receive so the sender can't retract and delete it (probably a Duh, but you never know...).

Then make sure you haven't inadvertently set up any draconian Clean Up options in your mailbox. (Sometimes people do this when they're first playing around with GroupWise and don't realize that "Auto-delete after 1 day" is a bad idea.) To check:

  1. Click Tools > Options.
  2. Double-click Environment, then click the Cleanup tab.
  3. Make sure your options look something like this.

If that all looks fine, contact your help desk and find out if they've instituted some hard-line measures in your company that are sweeping things away too quickly for you. If that turns out to be the case, have them show you how to set up an Archive so you can squirrel away your email out of reach of any Clean Up options. (Stuff in your Archive is safe from the grim reaper.)

If anyone out there can think of other things that might be causing Dena to lose her email, please let us know and we'll add it to the list.

Other Ideas

Brian Robertson

Another "Duh" that I've observed.

I've discovered in my organization that end users occasionally move email into a folder other than their mailbox by mistake, especially if they are having a bad mouse day. I've personally watched them click and drag a message inadvertantly. Later, when they go looking for it, it's not where they think it is.

Mary Collins

The only two other things I can think of are 1) Junk Mail or 2) a poorly created Rule. She doesn't say if it happens to all mail, internal or external, but I've had users go to add something to junk mail handling and set it at the domain level to junk anything from or instead of setting it from a particular address.

Brian Anderson

#1 : You have cleanup options set properly, but use the Windows Date/Time properties app to look at a date in the future ( What day of the week does X-mas fall on this year ? ) which triggers your cleanup prematurely. Windows advances system date/time as you look at 'calendar' - it does not wait until you click apply!!

Solution : Use your GroupWise Calendar to look at future dates, not the Windows date/time properties app.

John Brookes

Have a look at proxy access - if anybody has full proxy access to her mailbox, they could delete the message without her being aware. Be especially careful of 'minimum user access' or 'All user access' (depending on your version) - this can let anybody in to read, send and delete your mail.

Nancy Arledge

Her Inbox is too full. Clean it up some - - delete, archive, or moving things to another folder helps.

I know she says she is not deleting the inbox item. However, are her settings correct so that when she actually deletes something, it is not deleted from every place? Or, maybe that option went away when I did not notice.

Jason Mitchell

I don't know if this is true with 6.5, but with 5.5 we had a similar expeirence but with Sent items.

A employee thought we were deleting their Sent items after some many days. We weren't of course. The person could only see 4995 emails in the Sent items folder. The solution was to build another Sent items folder and setup a filter for date. So we created a Sent items for every 6 months.

Lisa Chernoff

I just wanted to throw in that this has happened in my company too and we have checked all of the options that you mentioned. Usually it's in a Mailbox, but sometimes items are randomly deleted from the Trash too. FYI! I use GW 6.5.3 on both server and client.

Cathy Russell

I have had this happen to a couple users with GroupWise 6.5.2 through 6.5.4. Over night the system will delete a large amount of emails. The user has no cleanup options and the POA has no scheduled tasks that would delete email.

Running maintenance on the user's database helped one, and the second person had to have their account deleted and recreated (after archiving all their email).

As far as the sender retracting email, I had a user who had their expire date option set to 1 day, so she didn't think she was retracting email, but her client was retracting it automatically from all mailboxes when the message had expired.

Steve Benson

We have experienced the same issue. It turned out that the volume (hard drive) where the post office resided was failing, ever so slowly, we think due to heat. When the request to the message database was called, the drive might or might not find the information requested. Thus, sometimes the user mail was there, other times, not.

It was finally deduced that it was the drive (when it failed) and we tried to do a restore of the information. The information needed from backup tape was there, but when checking the sub-directories, some of the files were not there. We had to go further and further back through the weekly and then monthly tapes to get complete sub-directories under the PODIR directory to restore the post office.

Eric Ho

If the mailbox size is restricted, and the size of mailbox exceeds the limitation set by the administrator, the user's mail may be lost.

John Carter

We have had this happen many times on GW 6.5 using all service packs. User logs in and all mail is gone. Sometimes we can run a re-create and get some of their stuff back. Have had it even take out the user's address book.

Other times, we have had to use restore methods to get users' mail back. No policy to wipe mail, mail is not archived nor sitting in trash.

Robert Hinsch

I had a user who was making rules when he got junk mail and putting things like, "if subject contains" "your" (since YOUR was in the subject of the junk mail) delete the e-mail.

Little did he realize that now any e-mail with "your" in the subject would also be deleted.

He had over a dozen such rules made up with common words. I deleted all of his silly rules and his e-mails did not disappear again!


Expiration dates can cause this to happen as well. Here's what happened to us. We had a mailbox setup with a rule to forward mail to various GroupWise accounts. This rule was created on xx date. The default expiration of emails is 60 days. As each day progresses the expiration of the forwarded email is one day less. By the 61st day, users were receiving email from that account via the rule and they would actually watch the email arrive but before they could open it, poof, it was gone.

Setting the default expiration date on that account to zero and re-saving the rule cured the issue. Strange!

Dennis Barber

Several of us use the shared folder option as an easy way to allow everyone on a specific project to see common emails. If a user with rights to delete a shared folder item deletes an item in a shared folder, it will delete that item out of the shared folder for all users.

Emails in a shared folder may be what are disappearing.

David Moloney

One of my clients had a problem wherein whenever she read a message it would disappear. In effect, GroupWise was only displaying new messages. I connected to her mailbox and could see all her messages. Rebooting her workstation solved this problem. This only happened once and hasn't recurred.

Joe Roberts

This used to happen to me also, mostly disappearing from my trash. I checked all options discussed and finally figured out that I had myself logged in on another computer with GroupWise running, and my was mailbox open on that computer running some administration programs. As soon as I turned that computer off and closed my logged-in GroupWise account on that computer, my mail stopped disappearing.

Mark Townsend

I had the same problem. Some users were having email items removed not only from their inbox. After some investigation and opening a ticket with Novell support, I discovered that one of the default POA scheduled events was causing the problem.

I turned off "Default POA OFCheck Event," which is located on the properties page of the POA. (Select the GroupWise tab then select "Scheduled Events". Take the check off the event "Default POA OFCheck Event".)

After I did this the problem of users losing their emails stopped. I don't know exactly why, but this worked.

Mike Nixon

This is in reply to Mark Townsend. I went to the POA properties and to where you referenced, but there is no Default POA OFCheck Event scheduled, or for that matter listed. There is a Default POA Disk Check Event.

The missing and disappearing email event has been happening to our GroupWise at my company. Not to everyone, just a select few. Unfortunately, some of those few are upper management. I have been combing the TIDs for a few days with no luck.

Joe Marshall

Two situations came to mind when I read the problem: Blackberry and POP. Neither of them has been mentioned so far and we've run into both in our GroupWise environment.

Blackberry - Users do not understand how they work. We have had users request that their Blackberry delete messages from both the device and from GroupWise. They request it, and days later wonder, "Where did my emails go?" In a couple of situations, the users moved the emails within their GroupWise client to a folder, which they felt would protect the email from deletion. Trust me, deleting it from the Blackberry finds the email in GroupWise, whether it is in the Inbox or a folder. The Blackberry has a nice option in the email reconciliation options, which we have been using ever since: "Delete On: Prompt". Every time someone deletes an email on the Blackberry, it asks them to delete it from the Blackberry, GroupWise, or both. It is a lifesaver.

POP - This one is straightforward. In a few cases, we have allowed POPing of email from our GroupWise server. At least once, the remote workstation was misconfigured to download the emails from the server. Remember, this could happen from workstation-based POP clients, from newer high-tech phones, and from web-based email aggregators. This should be causing mass quantities of emails to disappear so it is "probably" not the problem in Dena's case.

On a separate note, it could be her cat, dog, lizard, bird, or other pet. They always have a tendency of finding the "Del" key.

Randy Wilson

In response to "The Mystery of the Disappearing Email," our company had the same problem. My e-mail would consistently disappear when 90 days old, without any warning. It turned out that this was a setting on the server side, which was someone's Bright Idea to keep the post office from growing large (doesn't a 250GB hard drive cost $150 these days? Whatever.).

Anyway, although I disagree with this policy (especially when employees aren't informed of it), the workaround is to go to File -> Mode and select "caching" instead of "online". That way, all e-mails are downloaded to your hard drive, and then storing them forever hurts nobody but yourself, and your e-mails never disappear (well, unless your hard drive crashes...). This is what I do, and it works great for me.

Louise Ward

I had this and found that, if Notify appears when you are typing and you just happen to be typing the letter "d" the Notify takes this as "delete" and the message is gone.

Danny Stark

I've seen paranoid users cause this in our office. Every office has someone who thinks "I don't want anyone knowing what I've been sending."

So, they go into their sent items at the end of the day, CTRL-A to select all and delete from all mailboxes. The first time they have to recreate five days of appointments they have deleted they usually clue in.

Richard Flemming

As a GroupWise administrator for 22,000 plus users, I have a handful of users who are losing messages. I have logged in as the user and verified that there are no rules for removing mail. We do not have network settings to eliminate mail after a certain time period (or more users would be missing mail.) I even have one user that had messages in her mailbox on Friday afternoon and when she accessed her mailbox on Sunday afternoon, everything was gone, read messages and unread messages. Our PSE has reviewed the log files for the POA and identified that the user is the only person accessing the mailbox which eliminates malicious deletions. She also just reset her password on Friday. This is happening for different users at different times. If anyone can identify how these messages may be disappearing, I would sure like to know.

Vyacheslav Kvasnitsky

I had the identical problem, but worse. My e-mails were lost even if I didn't read them!

This was a conflict caused by procmail which read my e-mails as parallel process with KMail, my mail client.

As result I lost a couple of e-mails.

Joel Boyles

I had a user who often logged on at multiple different computers. The problem was that one computer was set up to archive his mail to a certain local archive directory. So, when he'd sit down at that particular machine, it would archive his mail.

Paul Caron

One of our power users was complaining of routinely missing some of her emails that she had previously read. She has her GW Client configured to archive her email after 28 days and the system is configured to cleanup her email after 30 days. They weren't in her archives - where did they go?

Here's what we found out. She routinely unarchives individual emails to see content and perform tasks based on what the old emails had said. She never archived them back. If the emails unarchived exceeded the 30 day system limit (they would if they were old emails) and the system performed weekly cleanups before she returned to her office and launched GroupWise again, those emails would get purged from the system. She has been advised to archive them back for safekeeping.

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