Last modified at 3/12/2013 1:43 PM by Bill Coulter (admin)

Deleted Item Recovery

Exchange provides a deleted item retention period. It is configured for 30 days. So generally speaking, you can recover things that have been deleted within the past 30 days.


Here's how it works. When you delete an item from your inbox, calendar or other mailbox folder, it goes into the deleted items folder in your mailbox. Normally, it will stay there until you delete it from that folder.

Here are some exceptions to that.

  • Outlook can be configured to empty the deleted items folder every time you close Outlook.
  • Outlook's auto-archive feature can be configured to periodically delete the items in your deleted items folder.
  • Accessing your mailbox with a non-Exchange Internet mail client can cause items in your inbox to be "permanently" deleted, bypassing the deleted items folder.
  • Holding down the Shift key while deleting an item causes it to be "permanently" deleted, bypassing the deleted items folder.

After you delete items from the deleted items folder, or "permanently" delete them, then the clock starts to run on the 30-day deleted item recovery period. During the 30 day period, items can normally be recovered using the deleted item recovery feature.

After the 30 day period, what's gone is gone.


Here's how to use the Recover Deleted Items feature.

  1. In Outlook 2013 and 2010, click the folder tab. There is a Recover Deleted Items button on the toolbar.
  2. Select the items you want to recover and click the Recover Selected Items button. They will be restored.  


Public Folders

When you delete something from a public folder, it does not go into anyone's deleted items folder. It is "permanently" deleted immediately.

In order to recover items from a public folder, first select the public folder which contained those items, then choose Recover Deleted Items from the Tools menu.

In order to recover an entire public folder, select the parent folder which contained it, then choose Recover Deleted Items from the Tools menu.


Data Security - A Word To The Wise

Here are some technical tips for how to protect your company against accidental deletion of important Exchange server data.

  1. Periodically export a copy of your important data, especially public folders, into a pst file and store the pst file in a safe place, such as a CD-ROM. Use the import/export wizard on the Outlook File menu.
  2. Reduce permissions on all public folders, especially your top level public folder. When your organization is created at Exchange Hosting Service, the All ... Recipients group will be given Owner permissions on your top level public folder. This means anyone in your group could potentially delete that folder, and everything in it, which means all your public folders and everything they contain.
  3. Give people only the public folder permissions they need. Only your lead person should have more than read-only on your top level public folder. Right click any folder, choose properties, then permissions to see the controls. They are very specific and easily adjustable.
  4. Be aware that an offline folder file (ost file) is not the same as a personal folder file (pst file). Recovering data from a pst file is as simple as drag and drop. Recovering data from an offline folder file, if that data has been deleted from the server, can sometimes only be accomplished with special tools at great expense. There are companies on the Internet who will perform this service for several hundred dollars.
  5. If you discover that important data has been deleted, and you know it still exists on some other machine's offline folder file, rush to any machine that has been offline. Do not connect that machine to the Internet. Unplug its network cable. Make a copy of the ost file immediately. Start Outlook and work offline. Create a pst file on that machine and drag (or export) a copy of the folders into the pst file. Be aware, once that machine connects to the server, it will request updates and changes, and the server will instruct it to delete the data from the ost file.
  6. Confirm that Outlook's option is activated to download public folder favorites. See public folder performance for explanation and illustration.  




By choosing Exchange Hosting Service, you have taken a big step toward keeping your data safe. If you go even further and follow the steps outlined above, especially the periodic export to pst file, you will greatly reduce the likelihood of ever finding yourself in the position of having lost important data.

Thank you for your confidence, and for doing your part.