Monday, January 26, 2009

How long before an email is removed from the system?

I get this question a fair bit. How long, exactly, is an email available to be read after it enters the system?

Its hard to answer because its literally dependent upon the incoming rate at which email arrives. In effect, new email "pushes out" old email. That's a bit simplified as some email is thrown away based upon spam rules (if you get 100,000 emails with the same subject, you can probably say they aren't all going to be read).

So, whats the average? This weekend, email was lasting around 10 hours before getting "pushed out" of memory. I've seen that jump down to an hour - but mostly its around 5-7 hours.

I'll note that the primary Mailinator use case is that people tend to read email soon after it arrives. In other words, if email only lasted 15 minutes, we'd actually fill the needs of many users.

(I'd be *very* interested in hearing ways you use Mailinator that need mail to stick around longer.)


It's not exactly a common case, but some of the usual reasons for using mailinator often involve a service that has a... slow reaction time.

I specifically remember one time in the past that I wanted to check some more about some suspicious site offering to send a free partial sample of some document (it's been a while) to an email address. Classic for mailinator.
The first message, with a "click this link to confirm..." arrived after a minutes.
But the other one took about two hours. Technically it may have been less, but more than 30-40 minutes, which was the previous time I checked.

So for things that don't arrive straight away, it does have a benefit to be able to see what happened in the last few hours, since it's not always convenient, or practical, to check the mailbox ever 5 minutes.

Critical? No. Common? No. But possibly useful on some real-world situations? Yes.

I subscribed to an RSS feed of a mailbox. Because I only check RSS a couple times a day, the fact that mail sticks around for 10 hours is good. Of course, these aren't any messages I wouldn't want to miss, so in the end it doesn't really matter.

Just being able to retrieve the message or part thereoff through the rss-feed would help. I would then not have to check manually, but could leave it to the rss-reader. (just a thought)

I agree with wazzup: A full RSS feed for a username would be great.

I occasionally need email to last a day or so, while waiting for a human to respond. This is because I don't want to check the inbox every couple of hours when it could take days to get a response.
For this I use a disposable Gmail account. (Which currently has about 800 messages in the spam folder).

I use Mailinator mainly for trying out web services or free online video games that require an email during registration. I just need the sent email for about 30 minutes to activate any new accounts. Then I would normally delete the email for security purposes.

This is such an amazing service! thanks a ton for offering it

This is a great service! I which if you have available a service for a 1 month duration. Some companies are aware of this service and delays theirs e-mail. It is good if mailinator create a one month free e-mail service.

I sometimes use mailinator as a way to store links, names, etc. While I usally use them, or get used pretty quickly, it be nice to have them stay around.

Another way could be to "pin" emails. The "pins" would be retired if they are not "re-pinned" with in a certain amount of time (like a day) That way if we would like to keep something for longer, we still can, but nothing will be hanging around forever.

well today i finally remembered to use mailinator for a change that I've been wanting to try out for a long time. and so far so good, it does serve my purpose of one time activation mails on one time use sites. tried it out for webby awards 2009. i mostly use for the check email for activation link, type emails. and for that, i'd prefer a 10-15 min. mail retention period only. but what about user-adjustable time periods within a ceiling limit. say 10 hours.

Yeah, like Yaron said: for replies that don't come immediately, then you don't check often enough.

Another useful feature would be to retain the sender, received date and subject for longer than the whole message.

That way we could get an idea we missed something.