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Space-Saving Technique and User Interface Enhancement for Email Systems Disclosure Number: IPCOM000016224D
Original Publication Date: 2002-Sep-25
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-21

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Virtually all email systems utilize a database for storage of notes both on the server, and on local replicates. These databases can become very large, and one key factor in this is that many user maintain duplicate data, often multiple versions of the exact same data in their mail databases. The primary aggravating elements in this phenomenon are the "note forwarding" function, and the "note reply with history" function. When receiving a note which has either been forwarded directly, or via "reply", a busy worker is very likely to store this document, with the intent of looking at it later to determine the merits of keeping a permanent copy. Many times, of course, this does not happen, and as such, duplicate note data is held in the database wasting expensive storage space and complicating searches for legitimate notes which may need to be referenced. One practical solution to this problem is to add the logic to the email database to recognize the fact that an incoming note has been either directly forwarded, or via a reply function, and to take specific action on those notes. The database application could scan these notes and compare the results against notes already stored in the mail database(s). If duplicate notes are located, the user could then either (a) be prompted to act upon this information, or (b) may allow the end user to choose to configure his or her email system to automatically act upon the duplication in every case. A final note in a series of exchanges is the only complete record of the correspondence, and referral back to an earlier version of the note chain could cause confusion. In an exchange of notes, note 1 may be deemed the original note. Note 2 then references note 1 in its entirety. Note 3 then includes both notes 1 and 2 in their entirety. Given this example, upon the opening of note 3, the application could prompt the user as follows: "Your mail database contains Note 1 and Note 2 , (or perhaps an index number pointing to the notes), each of which includes an exact subset of data found in Note 3." Options could then be offered to: (a) delete note 1 and 2; (b) read note 1 and 2; (3) move note 1 and 2 to trash folder. This automated method of deleting duplicate note data makes note management easier, saves space on the local client database, and in turn, save the same space on the note server. Given the number of users in a corporate email environment, the space and time savings could be quite considerable. Data retention has always been a difficult problem for those managing storage space, as by nature users do not like to delete any data they could possibly need later. This intelligent method of identifying data which is entirely embedded in another note makes it much more likely that a user would be willing to delete the offending duplicate note(s). Additionally, minimizing the number of notes stored in a given email database makes the task of locating a specific note for reference more efficient, and ensures that only the most complete version of any note chain is maintained. An additional option can be added to this management system where the recipient of the note, through a simple click on an option button, could concur disagree with the received note. In the example above, a note recipient could, upon receiving a note about a meeting, could simply click on the concur button, and the invitor would be notified of the recipient's 1