Duplicate, nested account folders on ATT server

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Senior Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2010 64 bit
Email Account
I have a weird issue in which my email acct. as it sits on the ATT server has become nested (replicated) 3 deep.

For example, let's say my acct. name is main-acct-name@pacbell.net followed by inbox-outbox-sent-trash....etc then approx 50 folders with assorted names including a large local folder struct. 5-6 folders down, this full structure is repeated or nested, then again two more times.

It's the same in eMClient, Outlook2010, Win10 mail app, AND Yahoo webmail, except in Yahoo, all redundant folders are named: main-acct-name@pacbell.net/folder name/folder name/folder name depending on how far folder nesting goes. This makes the folder names hard to read without mousing over them one by one which causes the full name to appear (not enough room on screen layout for the full name to appear).

I'm using IMAP and am fully synced with iCloud, so all email is ATT server resident. I've tried to fix from eMC by disabling syncing then doing bulk deletes of all duplicate folder structs. It will look "fixed" for a few minutes, but then when syncing is re-enabled, I'm right back where I started. It would seem the only way to fix is to manually delete stuff from Yahoo webmail, but it won't let me delete a folder without first deleting each email in the folder first. In each redundantly nested folder struct I have over 20,000 emails, so not an option. At least in Outlook or eMC if offline I can do a bulk or batch delete of an entire folder (still tedious with 60 some odd folders), but once reconnected to the server, I'm back where I started.

What got me noticing this is the very long delay in new email loading from the server, even if no large photos. Apparently, the ENTIRE folder structure is getting resynced with each new email that comes down. Even old, archived folders that have no changes for years.

Any ideas?

Here's what it looks like:

local folders
etc.... for 50-60 folders
local folders
local folders
local folders
What antivirus software do you use? If it installed an outlook addin, disable the addin. I've seen weird stuff happen with AV addins in outlook....

In File, Account Setting, double click on the IMAP acct then more settings - on the Advanced tab, what is in the root folder field? (Blank/nothing is good... but don't change it just yet if there is something there.)

You may need to delete the folders one at a time and let the deletions sync up - close all email clients but one and delete the deepest subfolders and let it sync. Emptying the deleted items folder would be good too. You can try deleting a parent (lowest email address folder) and subfolders, but not all servers allow clients to delete subfolders. Not sure which would be faster - eM or outlook - but i know outlook is a pita when it comes to deleting folders. Moving folders to a new pst *should* delete them from the server - then you just delete the pst when done - but i don't know if it will work with yahoo's server.

It's definitely not going to be fun to clean up... :(
Thanks for the prompt reply. It's been a while for me but always amazed! I'm actually not using Outlook now but eMC which also apparently can not delete stuff from the server. it looks like it is but when sync is turned back on, everything is back. For AV it's Microsoft's AV + Mbam premium. Further, my eMC (latest v6.xxxx) has a chronic problem (bug?) where is says "this operation may take awhile" when I try to delete an email or folder under certain, undefined circumstances, and by a "while" it means many hours if not days or probably weeks. I've not been patient enough to find out, so I kill the process after 20 minutes and start over. The process is usually using 0 to .2% of cpu cycles too, so it's really just doing nothing but fooling me into thinking it's actually doing some work.

it appears I now have to do the cleanup you describe from Yahoo webmail, but after the failed deletion from eMC all folders have long names that make them unreadable on the screen and hard to ID. For example, used to be just "folderA", now it's "my-account-name@pacbell.net/top-folder/next-folder/next-folder/folderA (like the long form of a file location on a hard drive) assuming folderA was nested accordingly. All this won't fit in the display, so all I see is "my-account-name@pacbell.net repeated 30 times down the list with the rest hidden from view unless I mouse over it, then it's displayed, but just that particular line. To do this cleanup from Yahoo, you first have to go to the lowest level nested folder, delete all contents by clicking all the boxes, move up one level, repeat..... Yahoo does not appear to allow a batch delete like an email client will when offline.

I think I'll call ATT next as this should be covered free since Yahoo is their supported email app.

thanks again!
eM is too slow to empty the contents of the folders? How much mail do you have? It might be worth using Outlook and a macro to empty the folders then delete them - but if you have a ton of mail, you'd need to download it all first.

Do you know when the duplication started? That could help narrow down the cause...
I have to clarify a few things.

If I'm just reading then deleting a daily INBOX email, it deletes immediately and from the server too, I assume, as once I empty trash I never see them again. About once a week, however, if I just open eM and try to delete a random email, I might get the "this will take a while" msg. It usually will run hours till I kill the process. On restart then I usually can delete it.

My INBOX has 7,500 emails. In total folders excluding the redundant nested folders I'm trying to remove, probably around 60 folders.

It's the duplicate nested folders that behave oddly. I can select then delete all emails in a folder, but then when I try to delete the presumed empty folder I again get the "this will take a while" message and it never deletes. If the folder is full, I get the expected message "can't delete a full folder". Occasionally I can delete an empty folder, but then it reappears grayed out and italicized and will not delete. This, after I empty the trash too. Back in Yahoo such folders then appear not with their original short name but the full expanded name of my-account-name@pacbell.net-folder1-folder2...actual-folder-name, total length depending on how much nesting down to the bottom folder. This makes housekeeping in Yahoo near impossible.

I sense that if I persist I can ultimately delete the duplicate account structs from eM, but with 60some odd folders and folders nested under them, it will be tedious and take a long time. I'm also considering a full removal and reinstall. Although I did several reinstalls months ago to try to fix other problems that just mysteriously disappeared on their own.

Do you know if ATT tech support has an ADMIN mode when you're on the phone with them where they can go into a customer's account and override any restrictions the end user has and delete the heck out of stuff if the caller asks them to?

thanks for the help.
It now appears that I am able, using a bottom-up, approach deletes the nested files and folders, I just have to be patient. Open each folder, delete content emails, move to the next. Then after a few minutes go back and delete the folders. I do have one that's grayed out and italicized (and empty) and don't know what that's trying to tell me. Any idea?
Do you know if ATT tech support has an ADMIN mode when you're on the phone with them where they can go into a customer's account and override any restrictions the end user has and delete the heck out of stuff if the caller asks them to?
No sorry, I don't.

do you think its eM that is duplicating the folders?

It now appears that I am able, using a bottom-up, approach deletes the nested files and folders, I just have to be patient. Open each folder, delete content emails, move to the next. Then after a few minutes go back and delete the folders.
Not being able to delete folders that aren't empty isn't unusual for imap servers - well, except for the wait to delete the folders (they may just need time to sync the changes), but yeah, it is slow going.

Gray and italics means the folder has a \Noselect flag set. This is part of the IMAP protocol and means the folder can contain child folders, but not messages. I'm guessing the folders with your email address as the name are like this? It would make sense as a root folder.
do you think its eM that is duplicating the folders?

My best guess is that it is, and from the period some weeks ago I mentioned when I multiple times reinstalled eM and sometimes with, and sometimes w/o a new fresh account too. It's possible it happened as a byproduct of that effort and I just did not realize it at the at the time. I went thru a period of where upon exiting eM I could not run it again because there was already a background version of it running farther down the list but nothing showing on the screen. I'd have to kill it with Task Manager then it would run after running its data integrity check. This became very tedious. Oddly, the problem just suddenly went away on its own. I kept reinstalling the same downloaded v6.xxxx from their site, so it was not like I suddenly found a better version.

While I have you, can I ask about the native Win10 mail app? I fired it up, did the config and all my email came in, calendar and contacts synced with iCloud and I thought, WOW! Maybe I'll switch. Then the next day I realized no new email was coming down. it acts like my ATT server settings are wrong but I have them the same as with eM and if they are wrong why would all the email have come down (and to last one too) in the first place?

And on that note ATT says in their online instructions: imap.mail.att.com (and smtp.mail.att.com)
but I can only get this to work: imap.mail.yahoo.com (and smtp.mail.yahoo.com)

and, yes, I have the correct port nos.

who's right on "att" vs "yahoo"? One thing I see is as technology evolves often the "how to" instructions online do not evolve and we find obsolete advice that may have been correct 5 yrs ago but is not correct now.

Thanks again.
Ah-ha. Just confirmed I fully removed the innermost nested redundant account (of 3 making 4 total with the real top level one). I know how to do it now, just tedious.
Should I even bother trying to get the Win10 embedded email working? It looks promising but as I say, not syncing so far. Still messing with it. ATT tech support will not help (for free) getting 3rd party stuff to work but wonder if that applies to a Microsoft product? I think they'll only help with Yahoo webmail since that's what came with the package in the beginning when I signed up decades ago.
False alarm on fixing the duplicate nested folders. Appeared gone for a while but the next day all back. The problem was many in LOCAL FOLDERS were empty for unknown reasons. I fixed this by an import of a backup from a couple months ago, then fixed the duplicate folders by just hiding them. Problem solved. Out of sight out of mind. I'll call ATT and see if they have some sort of "super user" mode that allows them to work some magic.

Still would like to hear from you on whether or not the Windows 10 email is worth getting to work. Can send but not receive.

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