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Merry Christmas from Plusnet – all your emails are deleted.

LongEstCustomer
Hooked
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎28-12-2017

Merry Christmas from Plusnet – all your emails are deleted.

Woke up this morning to find that Plusnet have deleted ALL the emails on one of our laptops.  In the most heavy-handed way.

Something to do with having too many emails in the server, I found after an hour or two.  One GB, which apparently hasn’t changed in 10 years or so, whilst the rest of the world is creating mountains of databanks.  (Gmail offer 15 GB; Yahoo a whole 1TB…)  I’ve been unable to correct it, because of how Plusnet set it up a year ago.

I’ve always used POP3 email collection, setting Thunderbird to delete them from the server after X days.  When my wife got a new laptop a year ago, I couldn’t get email to connect and Plusnet Help persuaded us to use IMAP, talking us through configuration.  There is no setting anywhere I can find to say when or how they are to be deleted from the server. 

My wife kept her in-box tidy; only 200 or so emails remained in her Thunderbird, deleting all she didn’t need.  Putting some ones – like important ‘Hamilton’ tickets and numerous others – in local folders.  All those local folders on her laptop – and EVERY email before today, have simply disappeared.

Yes, I’d had warning emails – which also reassured that nothing bad would happen.  So I tried to fix it by Thunderbird expiring them from the server – but no option for that using IMAP.  So I then tried deleting them using Webmail – but as everyone knows, Plusnet webmail is [-Censored-] and it was so slow it wasn’t a viable option with hundreds of emails.  So I thought I’d call Plusnet to sort it during the Xmas hols, not thinking this would happen the day after Boxing Day.

The Plusnet email said: “we've archived some of your messages. This means that you won't be able to access these emails unless you have a copy saved locally.”  NOT true – all the local folders, inbox, subfolders, sent, emails, all gone due to the Plusnet server actions.   

The Plusnet email said: “Don’t worry – we can un-archive them. Just contact us”.  NOT true, from my experience.  It said to request it through ‘Help Assistant’.  But Help Assistant wasn’t working.  So I phoned Technical Assistance.  Surely that would work?

Apparently the only thing the ‘highly-trained’ technical assistance person could do was to raise a ticket with the acronymic CSCG Department.  They might respond in 3 – 5 working days (although they didn’t count in working days from their email just before Xmas) – which could mean they start looking at it by next Friday.  And no-one was able to contact this mysterious department holding the life or death of our emails.

The highly-trained tech assistant didn’t know what CSCG stood for, couldn’t phone them, couldn’t make any case urgent and couldn’t really help at all.

‘How would you feel if your entire email archive had disappeared?’  ‘Dunno really; I don’t really use email myself…’

Does anyone know how to hurry along Plusnet in correcting this fiasco?  Anyone know of a setting in IMAP that we need to find to avoid this scenario?  Or should we go back to POP3 as with all our other laptops?

 

11 REPLIES
Community Gaffer
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Posts: 13,575
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Registered: ‎04-04-2007

Re: Merry Christmas from Plusnet – all your emails are deleted.

Hi there,

Apologies for the hassle.

I'm in the process of unarchiving your mail now, will probably take an hour or so. It's essentially the contents of the mailbox beginning 'k' that's caused the issue.

If the mailbox is being accessed using IMAP/Thunderbird, then it should be possible to clear email from the server by deleting it, ensuring you also empty the Deleted Items folder, and making sure Thunderbird is 'expunging' correctly. Easiest way to do this is to enable the settings below and it should be taken care of when you exit the application:

tbird-settings.png


It's also good practice to 'compact' the Inbox and its subfolders from time to time by right-clicking in the folder navigation pane and selecting 'Compact':

tbird-compact.jpg


Hope that helps.

 

Bob Pullen
Plusnet Product Team
If I've been helpful then please give thanks ⤵

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LongEstCustomer
Hooked
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎28-12-2017

Re: Merry Christmas from Plusnet – all your emails are deleted.

Thank you for your help.

However we’re still very confused.  200-odd emails have now reappeared in K’s inbox, thanks.  But she had sub-folders to her inbox (eg. one named ‘Work’), with archived, all important emails.  Will these sub-folders and emails reappear too? 

(I’ve said to make sub-folders in local folders in future, not the inbox.)

440 emails also reappeared in her ‘Deleted’ folder – but they’ve now gone again; did you do that?

We have no idea how it got to 1 GB of emails as only maybe 20 included photos.  I suspect they go back years and the old POP3 system wasn’t clearing them. 

I’m still shocked that Plusnet archiving emails on the server caused her laptop inbox to disappear – I thought that by downloading them they would be resident on her laptop – which is what the email from PN inferred.

And how on earth do we now prune down the old emails on the server?  Webmail would be a nightmare.

LongEstCustomer
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Posts: 6
Registered: ‎28-12-2017

Re: Merry Christmas from Plusnet – all your emails are deleted.

Sub-folders now reappeared, thanks.  Cleaning up Thunderbird with more deletions, local folders etc.

Community Gaffer
Community Gaffer
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Re: Merry Christmas from Plusnet – all your emails are deleted.


LongEstCustomer wrote:

But she had sub-folders to her inbox (eg. one named ‘Work’), with archived, all important emails.  Will these sub-folders and emails reappear too? 


From what I can establish, the 'work' folder is currently a subfolder of 'Trash' (Deleted Items). Whilst I recognise it's very slow, logging into Webmail would make this clearer. 

You might also want to ensure that you're subscribed to all the relevant folders in Thunderbird by right-clicking the account in the left-hand folder list and selecting 'Subscribe', e.g:

subscribe.jpg

 

440 emails also reappeared in her ‘Deleted’ folder – but they’ve now gone again; did you do that?


No, I haven't touched the mail. Just fired off the script to restore it all.

We have no idea how it got to 1 GB of emails as only maybe 20 included photos.


Check the 'Drafts' folder. There's over 0.75GB of email stored in it.

Another Thunderbird tip...

Navigate to Options > Layout, and enable 'Folder pane options'. Once done, you can use the column selector on the left hand side and see the size of the various folders you're subscribed to:

folder-columns.jpg

I’m still shocked that Plusnet archiving emails on the server caused her laptop inbox to disappear – I thought that by downloading them they would be resident on her laptop.


That's not really how IMAP works.

And how on earth do we now prune down the old emails on the server?  Webmail would be a nightmare.


By following the advice in my preceding post Wink There's still quite a lot of email that's been deleted but not 'expunged' from the server. Be careful to move that 'work' folder out of the Trash/Deleted Items folder before you empty it if you're wanting to keep it though!

Bob Pullen
Plusnet Product Team
If I've been helpful then please give thanks ⤵

Superuser
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Registered: ‎22-08-2007

Re: Merry Christmas from Plusnet – all your emails are deleted.

With IMAP any thing "under" the IMAP account is not on the PC, it is still on the server.

What you delete from the inbox (or other folders) goes to the JUNK folder, which without explicit action (or the configuration changes Bob suggested) remain there until YOU explicitly empty the JUNK folder.  That's how your email folder filled up.

Clearly ignoring email folders full emails is not wise.

POP3 is somewhat antiquated and is not ideal where a mailbox needs to be accessed from multiple devices.  More importantly, you need to ensure that YOU have adequate back up of your computer and its historical email records.  1GB is more than a reasonable size for an email store - my company's policy was even less than that - archiving was expected to be performed locally.

We all have a tendency to collect clutter which we never have recourse too and out of laziness (I include myself here) never tidy up, until the Plusnet "You are exceeding the FUP" email arrives.  The point is that Fair Usage is all about not being greedy in the use of shared resources.

LongEstCustomer
Hooked
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎28-12-2017

Re: Merry Christmas from Plusnet – all your emails are deleted.

Thanks.  But – curiouser and curiouser!

I’ve logged on to her webmail, and there is no ‘work’ subfolder of ‘Deleted items’ as you describe – in fact nothing in there at all.

Similarly, there is absolutely nothing – let alone 0.75GB – in the ‘Drafts’ folder!  (We do recall a 23 Mb email a couple of years ago that was repeatedly attempted to be replied to via webmail but failed.  That could have been part of the draft email 0.75GB stored.)

So has our excess usage of storage fixed itself without us doing anything?

I’ve done nothing at all to Thunderbird – no changes to configuration at all as yet; but checking Webmail first as you suggested.  All that has happened is that the restored inbox has been tidied up and new ‘local folders’ made for emails she wants to keep, and also compacted after deletion.

(Btw; a notice came up on Thunderbird – ‘Compacting will save 20Mb’.  Thunderbird has always been set to give this prompt, but apparently it has never appeared before – so they were never compacted.  When we first found all the emails had disappeared, one of the many things I did was to compact folders.  Thunderbird said it saved … 4GB!

I believe 4GB is the maximum the Thunderbird can store.  So maybe it had hit its limit, and it just wasn’t working properly - in not prompting for compacting; not conveying updates properly to the server...?)

Now I just looked for the changes you suggest for T’bird.  The message store boxes are still unticked (I’ll do that later); all inbox folders are already subscribed to; in Options there’s no Layout or Folder pane options that I can find.

LongEstCustomer
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Registered: ‎28-12-2017

Re: Merry Christmas from Plusnet – all your emails are deleted.

Hi, thanks for the explainer.

So does ‘anything’ under the IMAP account on the PC include so-called ‘local folders’?  I can’t see those folders being duplicated on the webmail.  (Local folders are a misnomer if they’re not actually local.)

POP3 may not be ‘modern’ but has a lot of logic going for it.  Particularly when we’re not in charge of our own storage as has happened here without abuse or over-use from us.  We don’t have access to, nor can easily view the ‘storage’ they grant us; and we’ve been keeping our inbox tidy and archiving on our PC (subject to some additional settings as suggested above – but it was PLUSNET who set us up like this!)

1GB storage doesn’t appear to be generous or reasonable for users of Gmail (15GB), Yahoo (1TB) or Namesco (2, 5 & 50GB options).  In these ‘modern’ days of massive storage and datafarms, I wouldn’t be spending my holiday time on an email forum if I was using one of those services.

Rather than paying customers ‘being greedy in the use of shared resources’, I see that the consensus in these email forums is that Plusnet treat email as a non-core service and so they have been putting little resources or development into it. 

Superuser
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Re: Merry Christmas from Plusnet – all your emails are deleted.

Anything under the "IMAP account" on your email client reflects a folder and content which is on the server.

Elsewhere under some name implying local (in the case of Outlook 2016 which I use - 'Outlook Data File') is where the "local to this PC" folders are located.

You really do have to ask why data mining services such as Google and Yahoo offer such massive storage for "Free"?  Somewhere along the line, they must be deriving commercial benefit some how, otherwise they would not be doing it.  Also you need to ask just how secure are these services - https://www.cnet.com/uk/how-to/find-out-if-your-yahoo-account-was-hacked/ - Yahoo has not been entirely sure how many people / times they have been hacked.

Namesco is an additionally charged for email service, sitting alongside a FUP and bandwidth limited service, so that is not a like for like comparison.

LongEstCustomer
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Registered: ‎28-12-2017

Re: Merry Christmas from Plusnet – all your emails are deleted.

Thanks – so those local files really are local then, phew.

Google obviously have commercial benefit from their adverts, along with all the other world domination activities.

I hope you’re not suggesting that PlusNet haven’t been hacked?  I remember these events well: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/05/15/plusnet_spam_attack_may/

And it also seems that the under-investment is lining them up to be a target again in the near future: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/11/25/plusnet_still_delivering_passwords_plaintext/

Community Gaffer
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Re: Merry Christmas from Plusnet – all your emails are deleted.

I definitely saw both the work sub folder and the content of the Drafts folder when I checked the server earlier. Left the office until 2018 now, so can't check state of play until I'm back in.

Bob Pullen
Plusnet Product Team
If I've been helpful then please give thanks ⤵

Superuser
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Re: Merry Christmas from Plusnet – all your emails are deleted.


LongEstCustomer wrote:
Now I just looked for the changes you suggest for T’bird. The message store boxes are still unticked (I’ll do that later); all inbox folders are already subscribed to; in Options there’s no Layout or Folder pane options that I can find.

To find that setting, start by clicking the hamburger icon on the right, then follow the cascading trail shown on the following image.TBirdFdPaneCols.png

 

David