Oh how I wish I could say I did this because I came across a better method of communications and project management or (even better) I came up with the next big deal in business communications, you know whatever it is that is going to (finally) replace this 1970’s antique of technology that fills my existence with stress and anxiety… Well I didn’t do either of those things and now I hate email more so than I ever have before.

One Lonely Email Message

I experienced today what I have rolled my eyes at many times when clients have called over the years to say, ‘All my email is gone’. I too have felt what my clients have have experienced… that initial panic of OH SHIT MY EMAIL IS GONE.

My moment came at 5:50am this morning as I rolled over and checked my phone for any issues that came in during the night. I don’t normally check email first thing (what a horrible way to start one’s day) but instead look for web support tickets and or server monitoring alerts. However something compelled me to check email this morning… I had an email and by that I mean I had just one lonely email message (spam of course), everything else was gone gone gone. My folders, my subfolders, my inbox and every message (but that one) was gone!

Yep I Did It… I Deleted My Entire Inbox

Enter the movie montage when things get blurry and we get to see what happened in the past to create the saga we are witnessing now… It was the night before and I was working at getting to inbox zero (you know, where everything is either acted upon, deleted or filed away). I’m forever trying to get to inbox zero without success. I was so close, in fact I had 4 messages in my inbox (that I planned to act upon in the morning), and I figured I would dig into my folders and do a little further clean up… I even vaguely remember seeing the warning message that I quickly hit ‘Continue’ on. Bam in about two strokes I deleted over 4 years of carefully organized email (about 4GB worth).

It Could Not Possibly Be My Fault

Just like any horrid life event I went though the common symptoms (I’m not exactly sure what they are and what order they go in, but think this is close): denial, anger, blame (I honestly for some moments figured the host screwed something up), etc. It couldn’t have possibly been me that did this… I mean why the hell would I delete all my own email. I then think back to those client calls where the client insists they did nothing and bam all their email is gone –  it must be the server, the host, a demon or poltergeist, right?? Then it occurs to me… I did this.

Backups, Make Sure You Have Backups

I talk a lot about backups and am very careful about constantly taking backups (and backups of backups). It doesn’t matter if we are talking about my personal computer or the websites I host and manage… backups of backups is the strict policy. Well I screwed up again. I didn’t take a Time Machine backup (automatic backup software on the Mac) before I started my clean up effort… lesson learned (a little late, I know). However not to fear our email hosting service includes daily archiving. So not all is lost and I was able to reinstate my email with only a little permanent loss (the hours between archives).

The Take Away

I’m not really sure what to take away from this other than be careful (you really can wipe away 4+ years of email with two clicks) and make sure you have daily or even hourly backups of everything. Ensure your email host takes daily backups and can reinstate in the event of an emergency. You know, the ‘I am idiot’ kind of emergency.

photo by Matt McGee / cc