General email question.

Say I go into my Virgin email account, and open my inbox, if I then clear all my emails to ‘trash’, or another folder, where are those emails then stored? Are they in a physical location on my hard drive, or are they in some virtual mailbox?

Is this a webmail account, or on your PC? What program, what OS?

There is no one answer to this question it depends on settings, what email client you are using and how Virgin does things.

Typical for an online Email system the Email actually resides on the companies servers. When you move the Emails to trash or another folder it goes to another part of their server storage. In the case of trash, a few companies or settings will cause immediate deletion of the messages but most do not.

In a more complicated example where you use a client like Outlook Express to check your Email there is usually settings for whether the Email remains on the server or transfers to your hard drive or both. If you have set it up to remain on server and keep a local copy then you could open Outlook Express without an internet connection. Delete many items where the store hidden on your hard drive for some period of time and then they finally go away. There is also an option of a hard delete, usually holding down the shift key when deleting a message. However until you connect to the internet and allow you client and the Email server to sync, there is still a copy on the server in your inbox. You could in theory configure a second client and retrieve an Email before syncing.

I hope that helps more than it confuses.


The answer is :- it depends.

How are you accessing your email. If you are using Outlook Express/Thunderbird and the POP3 protocol, then the emails are downloaded from the ISP server when you connect and stored locally (Outlook Express uses an indexed database file, Thunderbird uses plaintext files in directories, I think). When you delete your emails to Trash, you are moving them locally into a new location within the email data store.

If you access your email via webmail, all the emails remain on the ISP server.

If you use the IMAP4 protocol, the emails also remain on the ISP server, and get moved around folders on the ISP server.

Si (on preview, what What Exit? said)