So, you’ve accidentally deleted an important Outlook email, and you don’t have a backup. Happens even with the best of us!
Don’t worry, though! Even if you haven’t backed up your data with a professional backup service (which you should), there is still a chance to recover your files. In this article, we will show you how to recover permanently deleted emails in Outlook 2018, 2019, 2010, Outlook Express, and other versions. We’ll look at all the recovery methods for any situation you could trap in. The recommendations are useful for both individuals and administrators!
But before we begin recovering, let’s see in which cases the restoration is impossible.
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Instances When You Can’t Restore Files
There are some cases when the recovery is impossible:
- You have cleared the Recoverable items folder;
- More than 30 days have passed since the deletion;
- You don’t have access to eDiscovery or you don’t have an Enterprise license.
In these cases, there is nothing you can do. This is why we (and common sense) strongly recommend you to use secure third-party backup services.
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With that being said, let the recovery begin!
1. How to recover deleted emails in Outlook if you don’t have a backup
There are some first obvious moves you should take whether or not you have a backup. They include going through your trash bin and Recovery folder.
1.1. Recover emails through the Deleted Items folder
In some cases, you can recover deleted Office 365 emails in a few seconds. But to make it possible, two conditions must be met:
1. It should be less than 30 days since the removal date. All the files in the Deleted items folder are removed automatically after 30 days.
2. You haven’t deleted anything from the Deleted items folder.
If you still have time and you haven’t emptied the bin yet, here is what you need to do:
On the Web:
1. Open your Outlook.
2. Go to Deleted items folder.
3. There you will see all the emails you’ve deleted. You can restore one particular item or all of them. To restore one item, navigate on this email, put the radio button near, and click Restore. The email appears in the folder it was deleted from.
To restore all the deleted emails, click Restore without selecting any particular emails. By default, all the emails will appear in the first folder.
On the Desktop:
1. Open your Outlook.
2. Go to the Deleted Items folder.
3. There will be your deleted emails. Right-click on the email you need to recover and choose the option Move > Other Folder. In the next window, select the folder to move your item to and press OK.
Unfortunately, there is no option to restore all emails with one click like in the Web version. You may need to go through all of them separately, which can take some time.
However, how to recover the emails deleted from the trash in the Outlook? Or what to do if it’s been more than 30 days since you deleted the emails? Don’t panic. You still can restore your data using the Recoverable Items folder.
1.2. How to recover permanently deleted emails in Outlook through the Recoverable items
Microsoft doesn’t provide you with the backup options (except if you are subscribed to the Enterprise license), but it gives you two options to recover deleted emails instead. Recoverable Items folder is the second step for those who rashly cleared up their Deleted items folder, or who deleted emails more than 30 days ago. In these cases, Microsoft gives you one more way to restore.
1. Go to Deleted Items.
2. There is a Recover item deleted from this folder link above. Click on it.
3. To select everything, put a tick near the Recoverable Items. To recover particular items, you can click on them or the radio button near them.
4. Press Restore.
Now your files are restored. Depending on the version, you can restore them either to the initial folder or the Deleted Items folder, so check both.
Again, you have 30 days until all the emails are erased from this folder.
2. Recovering Emails if You Have a Native Backup
By “native backup,” we mean Microsoft tools that were initially designed for other purposes but people often use it as a backup. We covered all of them in our guide How to Backup Office 365 Emails in Just a Few Clicks.
There are four of them:
- Export/Import wizard
We won’t cover the first two here, because they are self-evident. If you use auto-forwarding, you can restore lost emails by going to the spare email you forward messages to. If you saved data with Export/Import wizard, you should go to where you saved the .pst file with your emails.
Here we will focus on how you can restore your emails using the Auto Archive and eDiscovery search.
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2.1. How to recover deleted email through the Archive folder
Auto-Archiving gives you the ability to move your old emails to the Archive in case you need them later. It is available only on a desktop Office 365 version.
Sometimes Auto-Archiving is set by default for all corporate users of Outlook. In case you didn’t know this function was set up, you may have missed the moment when all your old emails were transferred to the Archive folder. And, therefore, consider them deleted.
If so, you can find all your lost emails in this folder and recover them.
1. Open your Outlook.
2. Press the Archive.
3. Now you can choose whether to move back all the emails in the folder or choose a particular one.
4. When you picked the emails out, press Move to > Inbox (or any other folder).
Done! Now you can find the restored emails in the specified folder.
2.2.How to recover deleted email through the eDiscovery
eDiscovery is a tool that helps search information for legal cases and use it as evidence. But it also could be used as a recovery tool.
- Only IT administrators have the right to use this tool. If you are not an admin, you need to contact them for conducting this procedure.
- This feature is available for Office 365 Enterprise subscriptions only.
If you are an administrator, follow these steps to recover Outlook emails:
1. Open Office 365 Dashboard.
2. Navigate to Settings in the top left corner and choose Admin. You’ll lend in the Microsoft 365 admin center.
3. Click Show all to expand options on the left panel.
4. Scroll down to Security & Compliance; click on it.
5. Navigate your mouse towards the left panel, scroll down to Exchange, and click on it.
6. Choose Permissions
7. You’ll see three parameters. Select Admin roles.
8. In the drop-down menu, select Discovery Management and click Edit.
9. The new window is open. You don’t need any section except Members, so scroll down to it. Click on Plus.
10. Another window is now open. Find yourself and choose your name, press Add. Click OK.
11. Then you need to re-enter the system by signing out and signing in again.
12. Go back to the Exchange admin center > Compliance Management > in-place eDiscovery & hold.
13. The next step is to click on “+.” This way, you are creating a new search.
14. Give this search a name; you can also write a description. Choose Next.
15. To find deleted files, you need to specify the email address. First, choose Specify mailboxes to search, then Add a mailbox. Press Next.
16. To narrow your search, choose Filter based on criteria. These criteria can be different: you may remember the keywords in the email, or it could be a time frame you have received or sent a particular email. When typing the keywords, do it separately.
17. Then, press Select message types to search. This is another filter to help you distinguish the type of the file you are trying to find. If this is an email, specify it.
18. If you have set up all the search parameters, click Next.
19. Navigate to In-Place Hold settings and press Finish. Wait for the operation to complete.
20. Re-visit the In-Place eDiscovery & Hold. Now there will be the search list you’ve created. Select it and press Export to a PST file.
21. If everything goes right, the eDiscovery PST Export Tool window will open. Click Browse. Now you need to choose where to restore your .pst file. When you are ready, press Start.
22. The service can ask for your Admin credentials, and if so, provide it.
23. After that, all your files are downloaded in .pst format. To retrieve and restore it, go to your Desktop Outlook and search for a File tab. Choose Open & Export > Open Outlook Data File.
24. Find your .pst file where you saved it and click OK.
25. The new folder, named after this .pst file, will appear in the Outlook interface. Find the file you need and right-click to Move it.
26. Choose the folder for this file to be moved to. You will find it there.
You did it!