Not long ago, after Gmail's launch, every email provider with any intention of staying in business was scrambling to upsize its storage offering. Now remember, disk space is cheap but building and maintaining a scalable storage infrastructure for the Web 2.0 era is, to put it mildly, not trivial.
Case in point, the message I saw in my Rediff mailbox when I logged in today after ages. The message summary was, 'you did not log in for over 45 days, so we've deleted all emails in your Inbox.'
The only other email left in the Inbox was an 'Important Notice' sent in August 2004. Here are the contents:
Dear Rediffmail user,
To maintain high service standards, we review from time to time our usage policies for Rediffmail.
30 day log-in policy
The following new policy is being implemented with immediate effect. You are now required to log in at least once in 30 days. If you do not, on 31st day, you will stop getting new emails in your Inbox. However, emails received in your Inbox till the 30th day and emails in your various Folders will not be deleted. Your account will continue to be active.
45 day log-in policy
Further, you need to log in at least once in 45 days. If you do not, all emails in your Inbox as on the 46th day will be deleted. Further, we wish to remind you that as per existing policy you must log in at least once in 90 days otherwise on the 91st day your account is deactivated and you will not be able to log into your account.
Important : Please ensure you log in once in 30 days in order to use the full functionality of Rediffmail.
Rediff.com Customer Care
Apart from the obvious issue here (their inability to sustain costs for dead accounts), I would like you to think about the level of control Rediff exercises over its users' email accounts. They scanned all my messages, ferreted out this particular policy notice and then deleted everything else. Nice, huh?
PS: Bonus conspiracy angle. I don't remember reading that policy notice before today. Did they just delete all my messages first and then send the email with a forged time stamp? ;-)