Some people have written in confused about why Emailchemy converted so many more emails than their Inbox was showing. While perhaps alarming, it’s not cause for concern. To say it simply, Emailchemy extracts deleted messages from many email storage formats, and if you don’t want that to happen you should use the “Compact Mailbox” or “Compact Database” feature of your old email application before doing the conversion.

To be accurate, however, the “deleted” emails were really only marked as deleted and not physically removed from the mailbox or database. Many email applications, including Eudora, Thunderbird, Netscape, and a few versions of Outlook Express, don’t really delete your email when you tell them to. In order to be quick and responsive to the user, these email applications will simply mark the message in a way that tells the user interface to no longer display the message. The email message is still there, and it will be there until the user tells the application to rebuild or compact the database, at which time the application will take the time to physically remove the messages that were marked for deletion.

So, why does Emailchemy assume you want to recover these “deleted” messages? Without getting into the technical details, it was a design decision that helps make the converters more robust, but also there is the idea that it’s better to err on the side of giving the user more rather than less. What we’ve found is that many people appreciate this feature and are even pleasantly surprised when they see email messages that they thought had been lost, and it’s often rather difficult to explain the difference between messages in the Trash folder, messages marked for deletion, and messages that have actually deleted.

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