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Be a hero: Recover deleted mail

Various ways to stop accidental deletions, or recover when it happens.

We have all run into this scenario: A user deletes an e-mail message. Upon exiting MS Outlook, the user is prompted to either delete the mail or to keep it in the deleted items folder. The user accidentally confirms deletion of the mail, which is then gone – forever. But a couple days later this deleted mail turns into a must-find item, and you're called upon to perform your regular daily magic.

Did you succeed? Will you in the future? Here are some tips you can apply to make recovering a deleted message a little easier, or, perhaps, eliminate it.

1. Remove the Delete Mail prompt when users exit Outlook

The first thing that a user should do is to disable the option that would prompt to permanently delete mail from the Deleted Items folder when exiting MS Outlook. If users don't get reminded, chances are they won't automatically delete mail they need. But if your mail is all stored on the server, then this can eat up storage space. See...

2. Set limits on storing Deleted Mail

Using Exchange 5.5, you can set a retention period for how long you want deleted mail stored in the Exchange Server private information store. In most instances this feature is turned off by default. To enable the deleted retention time perform the following:

  • In Exchange Administrator go to the Private Information Store

  • Go to properties then select the General Tab. You can then set the number of days that mail can be retained.

  • As added safeguard you can check the box "Don't permanently delete items until the Information store has been backed up".

If you are Using Exchange 2000 in the Exchange Server System manager setting the retention period can be set by going to the mailbox store and selecting properties.

Please note that the longer the retention period is set the more storage space is required.


Adesh Rampat has 10 years experience with network and IT administration. He is a member of the Association Of Internet Professionals, the Institute For Network Professionals, and the International Webmasters Association. He has also lectured extensively on a variety of topics.


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