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FAQ Entry: Webmail: Deleting and Moving Messages


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#1 Jeff G.

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Posted 26 December 2004 - 02:19 PM

This FAQ Entry concerns the "Deleting and Moving Messages" Options Page of SpamCop Webmail. It is accessed via Webmail by clicking the "Options" Link, scrolling down in the center "Mail Management" Column, and clicking the "Deleting and Moving Messages" Link, described as "Set preferences for what happens when you move and delete messages." There are three Checkboxes available on this Page:


Return to the mailbox listing after deleting, moving, or copying a message?: If you are reading a message and you delete, move, or copy that message and this Checkbox is checked, you will then see the mailbox (Folder) listing containing that message, whereas if this Checkbox is not checked, you will then see the next message in that mailbox (Folder).


When deleting messages, move them to your Trash folder instead of marking them as deleted?: This portion is divided into Checked and Unchecked sections:

Checked: This is the default. Messages which are deleted from a particular mailbox/Folder go straight to your "Trash" mailbox/Folder. Any messages already marked/flagged as deleted cannot be: unmarked in Webmail because the "Undeleted" marking option is not present; purged in Webmail because the "Purge Deleted" Link is not present; and have their shown/hidden state changed because the "Show Deleted" and "Hide Deleted" Links are not present. To Empty Trash, either click the 'Empty Trash' link in the menubar" (if it is present because the following Checkbox is checked) or go to your "Trash" mailbox/Folder and click the "Empty Trash folder" Link (if it is present because the following Checkbox is not checked).

Unchecked: This is optional and is more consistent with the ways that Eudora and OE operate, but I no longer recommend it due to the possibility of data loss (explained below). Messages which are deleted from a particular mailbox/Folder stay where they are, but get marked/flagged as deleted (struck out). Deleted messages can be: unmarked using the "Undeleted" marking option; purged (equivalent to "Empty Trash" for that mailbox/Folder) using the "Purge Deleted" Link; and shown or hidden using the "Show Deleted" and "Hide Deleted" Links (only one of these two Links shows at a time, depending on appropriateness).
DATA LOSS WARNING: If you want to keep any deleted messages in a particular mailbox/Folder, DO NOT USE WEBMAIL TO DELETE OR MOVE (INCLUDING BY ACTION OF A FILTER) ANY MESSAGE IN THAT MAILBOX/FOLDER OR IT WILL MARK THAT MESSAGE AS DELETED AND THEN AUTOMATICALLY PURGE ALL OF THE DELETED MESSAGES IN THAT MAILBOX/FOLDER INSTEAD OF JUST MARKING THAT MESSAGE AS DELETED. I have learned this from experience the hard way, and I am not pleased. I consider this a bug, inconsistent with the implied "When deleting messages, ALWAYS mark them as deleted AND KEEP THEM IN THE MAILBOX/FOLDER instead of moving them to your Trash folder" unchecked status of this Checkbox.


Display the 'Empty Trash' link in the menubar?: This is pretty self-explanatory, except that if you check this Checkbox and use keyboard shortcuts the "'Empty Trash' link in the menubar" will hijack Alt+E, leaving Alt+T for the "Report as spam" Link. Also, the "Empty Trash folder" Link is only present in the "Trash" mailbox/Folder display if this Checkbox is not checked.


Acknowledgement: This FAQ Entry grew out of my experiences and writings in the Folder Level Delete Malfing??? Topic.
Best Regards, Jeff G. (full signature)

#2 MyNameHere

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Posted 29 December 2004 - 11:59 AM

:huh: Jeff, I am seriously confused by the data loss warning. Could you please expand on the circumstances that lead to losing messages? Under what conditions does this happen? I, for one, have been leaving deleted messages in their respective folders for a few months now, and I have not noticed any problems. Nothing has gotten purged until I explicitly purged it (so far as I know). :unsure: Let me explain that I am using Spamcop webmail almost exclusively. Every month or two I clean up my Inbox more thoroughly than usual and download it to Outlook, but in between I never POP/IMAP the Spamcop account. Is the problem related to using POP/IMAP to download mail? I have a couple of filters that redirect mail from my Inbox to other (custom) folders and have never noticed a problem related to them, either. The only slight problem I've noticed is when I move a message to another folder, it appears to remain in deleted form in the original folder. I don't know why that should happen. But I purge the original folder and all is well. Thanks!

#3 Jeff G.

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Posted 30 December 2004 - 02:23 PM

:huh: Jeff, I am seriously confused by the data loss warning.

Could you please expand on the circumstances that lead to losing messages? 

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Yes.

Under what conditions does this happen?

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At the times the losses occurred, I was keeping the email messages I had subjected to "Report as spam" as deleted messages in my Held Mail mailbox/Folder until such time as I could archive them to online HD, offline HD, and finally DVD+RW. When I mistakenly put a non-spam message in that mailbox/Folder and then deleted that non-spam message using Webmail, that mailbox/Folder was purged. Also, once I realized that it was impossible to automatically apply Filters to that mailbox/Folder and I applied them using the smaller funnel-shaped icon, a message was moved to my INBOX mailbox/Folder, and once again my Held Mail mailbox/Folder was purged.

I, for one, have been leaving deleted messages in their respective folders for a few months now, and I have not noticed any problems.  Nothing has gotten purged until I explicitly purged it (so far as I know). :unsure:

Let me explain that I am using Spamcop webmail almost exclusively.  Every month or two I clean up my Inbox more thoroughly than usual and download it to Outlook, but in between I never POP/IMAP the Spamcop account.  Is the problem related to using POP/IMAP to download mail?

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Not specifically. The loss impacts messages that were flagged as deleted (that is, purgeable messages), whether they were flagged as deleted via Webmail's IMP or another IMAP4 Client.

I have a couple of filters that redirect mail from my Inbox to other (custom) folders and have never noticed a problem related to them, either.

The only slight problem I've noticed is when I move a message to another folder, it appears to remain in deleted form in the original folder.  I don't know why that should happen.  But I purge the original folder and all is well.

Thanks!

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You're welcome.
Best Regards, Jeff G. (full signature)

#4 MyNameHere

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Posted 30 December 2004 - 08:04 PM

Yes.At the times the losses occurred, I was keeping the email messages I had subjected to "Report as spam" as deleted messages in my Held Mail mailbox/Folder ....  When I mistakenly put a non-spam message in that mailbox/Folder and then deleted that non-spam message using Webmail, that mailbox/Folder was purged.  Also, once I realized that it was impossible to automatically apply Filters to that mailbox/Folder and I applied them using the smaller funnel-shaped icon, a message was moved to my INBOX mailbox/Folder, and once again my Held Mail mailbox/Folder was purged.

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Hi, Jeff,

I played around with your first scenario a bit and had an interesting experience.

I have a custom folder called TEMP in which I store things I'm not yet sure what to do with. This is what I did:
  • Went to HELD, reported a spam (left it marked deleted).
  • Went to TEMP, moved a message to HELD, which left it marked deleted in TEMP.
  • Visited HELD, deleted the moved message (left it marked deleted).
  • Visited TEMP and verified that the deleted message was still there.
  • Went back to HELD, hit Purge.
So guess what happened? I looked up and saw that I was now viewing my TEMP folder, and it had been purged! Going back to HELD, all those messages were still there!

The key point here is that I was viewing the HELD folder when I hit Purge but after hitting Purge the TEMP folder was displayed.

I respectfully suggest that the problem you found is not a bug in the Purge function but rather an unfortunate result of a little Spamcop webmail bug that I (and others) have commented on a couple of times:

http://forum.spamcop...?showtopic=1701
http://forum.spamcop...?showtopic=1623

The webmail system obviously has a problem keeping its place. Since I don't do PHP (I have done ASP), I can only speculate that somewhere on the server there's a session-state-variable-equivalent that's overriding the identity of the page/folder that's being posted. Doesn't always happen, but it has happened intermittently over the past 6-8 months and has not stopped even today.

Somehow, when the little bug is active, if you press Delete or Report As spam or Purge, strange things happen (the most obvious of which is the page that loads shows the previous folder you were in).

I had decided to ignore it because no one seemed to think it was important. This is the first evidence I've seen that it could actually cause "damage" to the messages. So it has gone from annoying to somewhat dangerous.

IMHO, that should raise its priority somewhat. And I hope someone who can do something about it will take notice.

Or, maybe there are two ways to kill messages... :o

#5 MyNameHere

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Posted 14 September 2005 - 01:51 PM

Recently, I have become so annoyed with this problem (Webmail losing its place and applying the current command to a different folder), that I decided to go back to using the Trash folder. I figured I wouldn't have any more problems with purging the wrong folder.

Well, technically, that is true, but there is yet another problem, not fatal, but capable of inducing cardiac arrhythmia:

When you click on the "Empty Trash folder" link, you can end up emptying your Inbox or any other folder Webmail decides to send you to.

It just happened to me, and luckily my entire Inbox just ended up in the Trash folder, so I can recover it.

Clearly, the only "safe" way to empty the Trash folder is to select all the messages and use the "Delete" link (then, if you end up in another folder, nothing will be checked and so nothing will be deleted).

Edited by MyNameHere, 14 September 2005 - 02:11 PM.


#6 StevenUnderwood

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Posted 14 September 2005 - 04:57 PM

Recently, I have become so annoyed with this problem (Webmail losing its place and applying the current command to a different folder), that I decided to go back to using the Trash folder. I figured I wouldn't have any more problems with purging the wrong folder.

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I actually want to delete this post here as this is the FAQ forum and this problem has not been described by anyone but this one user (several times) that I can find. Also, this is simply a copy of his last post in the Email forum. However, it is possibly one persons viewpoint on how the FAQ should be modified, so it could stay. Opinions?
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#7 MyNameHere

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Posted 14 September 2005 - 05:35 PM

I actually want to delete this post here as this is the FAQ forum and this problem has not been described by anyone but this one user (several times) that I can find.  Also, this is simply a copy of his last post in the Email forum. However, it is possibly one persons viewpoint on how the FAQ should be modified, so it could stay.  Opinions?

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Steven, I resent the implications, first, that I am the only one to have reported the overall phenomenon; and, second, that my discovery is any less reliable than the original post.

There are two threads, including the one you cited, in which other folks have reported the problems Webmail has keeping its place. Whether or not you have experienced any data loss, I'm pretty well convinced that Jeff G's original post was an example of what happens when the system points to the wrong folder while you are requesting an action (such as purge).

Why I am the lucky user who seems to experience this more than anyone else, I don't know. Or maybe I'm one of the few who is sufficiently motivated to report it.

This phenomenon is real, and it presents the possibility for real data loss.

And my report of this particular incarnation belongs in this FAQ because someone else, sooner or later, is going to empty their Inbox without knowing how -- and they might like to know they aren't crazy and how to get it back.

That's my opinion on the matter.

#8 StevenUnderwood

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Posted 14 September 2005 - 06:15 PM

Steven, I resent the implications, first, that I am the only one to have reported the overall phenomenon; and, second, that my discovery is any less reliable than the original post.

There are two threads, including the one you cited, in which other folks have reported the problems Webmail has keeping its place. Whether or not you have experienced any data loss, I'm pretty well convinced that Jeff G's original post was an example of what happens when the system points to the wrong folder while you are requesting an action (such as purge).

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I just re-checked every thread I could find on this topic and you ARE the only person to have found any data loss. In fact, in several places you confirm my statements in those threads that data is not lost during operations that would have deleted the messages (http://forum.spamcop...indpost&p=10764).
There have been reports of being redirected to a new folder since I started with spamcop nearly 3 years ago. That is not new. The data loss is new and may be related, however, I don't think these facts are to the certainty of a FAQ answer at this point. Again, I believe you have lost (or almost lost) data, and that could be related to other message lost problems reported recently, but am not sure it is YET.
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#9 Jeff G.

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 12:11 AM

I haven't seen that symptom, but then again I don't keep any mail in my Inbox (it gets POPped away regularly when my systems are up), and I don't empty my Trash very often, so I wouldn't be likely to see that symptom.
Best Regards, Jeff G. (full signature)

#10 dbiel

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 12:31 AM

I believe that the bigger problem, which is the root to this problem, is the fact that WebMail keeps changing the displayed folder. Example: Viewing the heldmail folder listing, double click on message to read it, message is displayed. Click on "Back to Held Mail" and it takes you back to the InBox. That is why I use IMAP instead, it works the way you expect it to. I hate the WebMail interface!!!!
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