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Actually if you go with the concept of pointers to messages detailed here http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3615862 you enormously cut down on the size needed to store those messages (one message with a million recipients is just one message + a million recipients, not one million copies). Also with regards to deletion you could leverage the economics to pay for size, for example a user with a 1tb mailbox store will have to pay more mailcoins than a user with a 200kb mailbox store.



The pointers method is used by most commercial mail archival software that I've seen (the kind big companies deploy for SabOX compliance).

The problems with Pointers & de-dupe is that at least marketing emails are personalised, each are sent independently often with at least a minimum of personalisation, for example calling you by your name (people are more likely to read it if it calls them by name). You can do de-dupe, but your limited to the efficiency and overhead of your block size. Compression would also take the storage required down to ~ 1/10th (excluding attachments), but I don't think thats still enough. Even if deduping and pointers gave you a 500x storage saving, the data size for a few days email is still so unfathomable that it won't work as a single global system.

As far as trying to solve it with economics, its been tried (as a method to stop spam) but the question is who has to pay who and for what? Every such scheme has failed because you end up missing one of the big groups of users as it becomes un-economical for their mail pattern to continue. If you make the senders pay, few comercial entities want to play, and few people will provide free email. If you have to pay to store then how do you stop being billed for someone flooding you.




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