Top 10 Email Problems – Solved!

techsupportAs the information and technology manager for a commercial real estate brokerage, email is by far the most confounding tech tool for most agents.  Here are the solutions for the top 10 email issues I deal with – not including the “how do I attach a file” type questions…

1.  Outlook is so sloooow!
Stop using your email account as an overstuffed file cabinet.  But you’ve got gigabytes of storage so what’s the problem?  Even if you don’t ever run out of space and you don’t mind the time it takes to find something, too much of anything is never good.  Your “single source” is more prone to corruption, application performance can be slower and if you ever have to migrate to a new system, lots of luck.

2.  Outlook is so sloooow, part 2…
Maybe you don’t keep everything in Outlook – but what you do keep is all in your inbox.  An over-crowded inbox will bring Outlook or any other email app to a crawl.  Get organized!  Create folders by client, date, project – anything!  If you have the option, archive items.  Archiving moves older email, calendar and task items to another file…so your main data file doesn’t get too large (see above…).  And yes, you can still see/search archived items (in Outlook, you’ll see archive folders in the bottom of the Mail Folders list).  Want more?  Take a look at setting up rules so that incoming emails are automatically sorted/placed in specific folders.

3.  Oops…I “forgot” to backup…
The days of burning to CDs, dragging to flash drives or even running backup utilities are over!  Get some cloud storage for seamless, idiot-proof backup.  But don’t take any default email backup options for granted.  Those usually only include your “basic” files.  For Outlook users, you’ll want to back up nicknames, rules and all those archive files (here’s a great list of Outlook files and locations by versions…).

4.  So and so can’t get the presentation I sent!
Stop sending gigantic files!  I understand you don’t have time to learn how/have the software to optimize photos, convert Office docs to pdf, optimize pdfs and so on but don’t make everyone suffer for that – especially clients with email size limits.  Use a file sharing application or if your cloud backup has the option, share a folder/file that way.  You send a link to the recipient and they can download your GIGANTIC file from there.  Just don’t pick a file sharing application that makes the recipient sign up for an account.

5.  I’m “losing” emails!
You got that email on your cell phone, but not in Outlook at the office…or you saw it in your Gmail account but can’t get it on your phone.  If you’re getting email on multiple devices/through multiple applications, make sure you have them all configured correctly.  Since most people have POP email, that means you have to pick one application as “command central.”  That app takes the mail off the server – all the others leave mail on the server (so you can download it to command central later).  And if you want a copy of something you send from another device, CC yourself so you can download it to command central later.

6.  I’m “losing” emails part 2 for Outlook users.
If you’ve got Outlook set to check for email at timed intervals, shut down Outlook when you leave the office..because if you don’t, while you’re on the road, Outlook is still working…taking mail off the server so it’s not available to other devices.

7.  Why configure?!
Items 5 and 6 sound too confusing?  You’ve got a better idea?  DON’T EVEN THINK of configuring all your devices to leave mail on the server.  One day – and it will be sooner than you think – your email box will be full, your clients calling to complain about bounced emails.

8.   I synced my phone with my computer and now all my emails are gone!

You’re using your phone’s email sync option, aren’t you?  Turn it off unless you understand that when you delete something from your cell phone it’s going to delete it in your email app (that’s what syncing means…).

9.   But…I don’t want to see some emails I got on my phone in “command central”!
Your phone should have an option (some even do this automatically) so that when you delete an email from your phone – and check again for email from your phone – that deleted email will be deleted from the server.  Remember that second step – check again for email – because that’s how the mail server knows you’ve deleted something.

10.   Why can’t I just have everything in sync??
With a POP email account, you just can’t.  But if you have the option for, an IMAP/MAPI account, take a look.  All your devices will have the same emails all the time – no more CC’ing yourself or dealing with multiple configurations!

If you’re expecting that your years and years of saved mail (and those archive folders!) will be available, think again.  Yes, they’re all still stored in Outlook, but in your old POP account folders…and when you switch to IMAP, you get a whole new set of folders.

Still, you can drag a few emails from your POP folders to your IMAP folders if you need access to them (hold down the CONTROL key when you do that so you’ll still have a “permanent” copy in your old POP folders).   But don’t go overboard.  IMAP/MAPI accounts tend to have smaller storage allotments – and that’s just as well since your cell phone, which will now have a copy of everything in your IMAP folders in Outlook, can only hold so much…


  1. says

    Great information. My clients don’t get the limitations that certain email accounts have. And everyone seems wedded to running an email program on their computer.

    Google Apps provides 50GB of email storage space per user, for a cost of $50 per YEAR per user. Even a solo agent can afford this. The great gmail-style interface, coupled with integration to your own domain, with full IMAP support makes this the best option for ditching the clunky email client and endless frustration over finding email.

    For the office that simply *has to have* good ol’ Outlook, Microsoft now hosts Exchange in the cloud, for $5 per user per month (minimum 5 users, so $25 a month to get started), which includes a copy of Outlook. This is the best way to enable all the heavy features in Outlook (shared contacts/calendaring, etc.) without the astronomical cost and maintenance of Exchange. 25GB per user on the Microsoft hosting package should be more than enough for anyone – including the 25MB PowerPoint presentation attachment sinners!

    • Chris says

      I really envy the brokerages (or any company) that can outsource email. In my case, even at $5 per user per month, with 140 users, your own non-Exchange server is cheaper – though it’s getting to a more attractive price point. Maybe I’ll run it by them again…