Jeremy Smith's blog

Entry Is Labelled

Email Box Storage Stats Broken Down by Role

I'm kinda of a statistics nut. I like breaking stuff down into cold, hard, unforgiving numbers. As a corollary to being a slight stats nut, I am also very wary of any and all statistics (I'm sure you've heard the quote before.... "lies, damned lies...") Just look at the ITS Dashboard. There's a lot of meaningless statistics in there that could be used to "justify" a lot of different perceptions of their "meanings" (i.e. incorrect trending). In addition to the meaningless stats, there are some in there that are downright misleading.

But for all you people that like stats and for some reason like to look at pretty graphs, I recently took a little bit of time and poured over the mail server collecting some numbers. The numbers I was looking for are:

Well, here are the numbers (sorry about the poor quality of the graphics (click through on the picture to see the larger images), I used a small perl script to gather the numbers but crunched them and produced the charts in Excel):




In addition to that numerical goodness, I created some fun ITS Dashboard stats tracking the number of persons (broken down by roles again) forwarding their Case email to GMail:

There are a lot of different ways to interpret those GMail forwarding stats. My particular interpretation (as I wait and watch them grow) is that our Webmail sucks and we should offer more email storage space. Your interpretation may differ, and your comments are welcome.


In the future, I may want to do comparative analysis with this data. Rather than trust me to not lose it on my hard drive, I'll just link to it from here.



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    Yes, the official Case webmail does suck. That is why I provide SquirrelMail and Roundcube on EECS provides Horde for webmail, as well. Many universities actually use squirrelmail as their official web client. Why doesn't Case?

    Also, 100MB is not nearly enough. I subscribe to a few high-volume e-mail lists. If unchecked, these quickly max out my quota. I recently just unsubscribed my Case account from these and switched to GMail. Not only do I not have to worry about space, but the GMail web interface for discussions is amazing!

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    Actually, I was surprised at how low the numbers are for students forwarding to gmail (only 8%?). Nearly everyone I had class with the last two semesters has a gmail account.

    My interpretation of the low forwarding numbers is that students use Case webmail for receiving mail but not sending, because it is the designated "official" form of communication (and I think quite a few students don't have any idea what email forwarding means). At the same time they maintain separate gmail and yahoo accounts for emailing friends, family, and professors because all of the PPT, MP3, and JPG files would fill their Case inbox/outbox within a few days.

    Considering the large number of places that offer poor quality free email these days, I think students don't even care to complain about Case webmail is an afterthought. They just write it off as yet another miserable email offering and use gmail, yahoo, or aol on their own. What's the point really?

    Is there any chance you can get statistics on the ratio of messages sent to messages received at I don't know how distorted those numbers might be by spam, but it might be interesting to compare that ratio to other schools or services like yahoo and gmail.

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    Being a bit of an e-mail packrat, I download all my e-mail from the server. If I didn't I would bump up against the limit far too quickly. Apparently for me this can happen in little over one month (explanation below). I don't know how many others still download all messages using POP, but if there are many of us, we are probably skewing the numbers towards the low-end.

    I'd always used POP rather than IMAP, but when I rec'd my new PC on July 6, the fellow who set it up had configured Outlook to use IMAP. Not realizing this until after he left, I decided I would try it out for awhile, as it is convenient for checking mail from multiple computers. However synchronizing my deletions never worked very smoothly, so on August 8th I rec'd the e-mail saying I'd hit 80% of my e-mail limit.

    I tinkered a bit, then decided to switch back to pop, so messages are no longer left on the server.

    As for programs, I am dependent upon both webmail and Outlook to send Case Daily (as Jeremy knows) so I don't really have much choice. Outlook lets me change the sender and Webmail is the only program we've tried so far that will accept html source code without mangling it in some way. Alas it will only do this if you are using Internet Explorer on a Windows machine...