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Trash Folder purging automatically

  • 5 replies
  • 2 have this problem
  • Last reply by Toad-Hall

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My trash folder is only keeping the latest messages (maybe 2 months worth) that I have deleted from my inbox. I have checked tools-option-Network&Disk Space and compact all folders is ticked when over 200MB. The sent mail and all mail folders have not deleted any mail since I started using Thunderbird in 2015. As a work around I have just tried right click on trash folder and selected 'Don't delete any messages' instead of the default 'use my account settings' under Retention Policy. I'm not sure if this has/will work. I'm using IMAP from a gmail account and Windows 10.

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re :I'm using IMAP from a gmail account

Gmail automatically empty the Trash periodically, usually about 30 days. You cannot stop gmail and as you are using IMAP then you are only seeing a view of the server folders. The server folders and the imap folders are in effect one and the same. Usually, only emails you have selected to be deleted should be in the Trash folder. Gmail considers 30 days to be a reasonable length of time to recover something deleted in error. If you do not want to lose an email, do not delete it, then it will not go to Trash. Perhaps create a folder called 'TempHold' for those emails you think should be deleted but unsure at this point.


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Thanks. That makes sense. Strange that I only noticed this 6 months or so ago. Prior to that, all messages seemed to have been stored in the trash folder and I could refer to them. I store the .eml file of the emails i want to keep on my PC. Going back to the trash folder is for emails which seemed unimportant at the time, but then I needed some information from them. I guess I'm stuck with it?


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I've started seeing this as well. My trash was set to never delete and I pruned it manually every 3-6 months. Suddenly it started auto-pruning every 30 days and now it's pruning after 48 hours! I've checked my account settings and everything that I can see it's set to Never Delete. I've also logged into my ISP and my IMAP profile there is also set to Never Delete. If I'm somehow fat-fingering this, please set me straight. Thanks!


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There is also a setting in Account Settings > Server settings, under Message Storage section which has a checkbox for 'Empty Deleted folder on Exit', so if this is selected and you exit Thunderbird, the Deleted/Trash folder will get emptied.

As previously mentioned it is also possible to set a retention policy setting on a per folder basis. Right click on folder and select 'Properties', then select the 'Retention Policy' tab to see those settings.

Some people like messages that are not starred and older than a specific date to be auto deleted. This is a means of clearing old emails from both Thunderbird and the server and applies to both pop and imap accounts. But you and I do not require that option hence under 'Disc Space' we have selected the 'don't delete any messages' option. However, that does not apply to the Trash if the server has an override option to empty the Trash automatically. In recent years, servers have default settings to empty the Trash which holds unwanted emails, in order to recover space on the server; the timing can vary depending on the server. Some servers offer the facility to set a timing, but that timing would be overrided by the server if the server already has a default empty trash time limit.

It is also possible for the Anti-virus product on your computer to empty the trash. If it scans the trash file and finds something it does not like, it can quarrantine that file or even auto fix the trash by deleting it. Then a new empty trash will appear. Perhaps less likely, but still possible.

Manual emptying of Trash does require specific process, so not easy to do accidentally. Any of the following would enact deletion. Note: there is an option to switch on/off a warning pop up window to confirm emptying.

  • Right click on Trash folder and select 'Empty Deleted.
  • Menu app icon > click on 'Empty deleted'
  • Depressing 'Alt' key and pressing 'F' followed by 'Y' will empty the Trash folder in whatever mail account you have currently selected.
  • Select Trash folder, highlight all emails (Shift + A or manually select) and click on 'Delete' button or press Delete key.


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Info on Yahoo servers:

Are the Trash and Spam folders regularly emptied? Yes. By default, both the Trash and Spam folders empty automatically to keep your account tidy. You cannot change the Trash and Spam settings.

  • Trash deletion frequency - Trash is deleted after 7 days.
  • Spam deletion frequency - Spam is deleted after 30 days.

Info on comcast / xfinity

Email deletion settings program Xfinity Connect to remove old messages from your Spam and Trash folders automatically. These settings apply to the date of the email; the settings are listed below.

  • Spam: 7 days - Only flagged Spam will be deleted after 7 days
  • Trash: 14 days

Note: Email deletion settings cannot be customized, and the default settings above cannot be edited. Inbox and Sent messages will not be removed automatically.

Info on gmail:

When you delete a message, it stays in your Trash for 30 days. After that time, it will be permanently deleted from your account and can't be recovered. Note: Gmail also empties the Spam folder every 30 days.

Info on VirginMedia:

Note: Any messages in the Trash folder that are over 7 days old are automatically deleted.

Info on TWC / Spectrum:

Under 'Deleting Emails' section.

  • Emails in the Trash folder are automatically deleted after 3 days.
  • Emails in the Spam folder are automatically deleted after 14 days.

Modified by Toad-Hall


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