Microsoft Outlook: How to Recover Hard Deleted Items

Microsoft Outlook: How to Recover Hard Deleted Items

For many that use Outlook at work, you are probably connected to an Exchange server that manages your e-mails. In many instances, the administrator of the Exchange servers has probably configured the server to retain deleted items for a specified period of time. By default, Outlook sends any deleted e-mails to the “Deleted Items” folder, where you can restore the item or permanently delete the item. But what if you hard delete an item that doesn’t goto the “Deleted Items”?

There is a simple change that you can make in the Windows registry to make use of the Exchange Server’s retention period. This will allow you to recover any items that you have hard deleted. Let’s see how to do this.

What is a Hard Delete?

Outlook Logo

There are two types of deletes in Outlook: a regular delete and a hard delete. A regular delete is simply deleting an e-mail by pressing the “Delete” key. The e-mail will then be sent to your “Deleted Items” where you can recover the e-mail if you have accidentally deleted it.

A hard delete, on the other hand, doesn’t send the e-mail to the “Deleted Items”, but instead removes the e-mail completely. There are three ways that a hard delete can happen:

  1. You press “Shift+Delete” to delete a message.
  2. You are using an Internet Message Access Protocol 4 (IMAP4), Post Office Protocol 3 (POP3), or another type of messaging client that doesn’t move the item to the Deleted Items folder.
  3. You work offline with an offline folder file (.ost) and remove the message for you Inbox or another folder. You then clean out your Deleted Items folder before synchronizing your offline folder with the server.

Even though the item may not appear in your Deleted Items folder, you can still use the Exchange Server’s retention period to recover the e-mail.

Recover Hard Deleted Items

To recover the hard deleted items, first you will need to add a registry key. To do this, use the following steps:

  1. Press “Windows Key+R” to open the “Run” dialog. Type “regedit” and then click “OK”.
  2. Navigate to “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Exchange\Client\Options”.
  3. Right-click the Options subkey and select “New”. Next select “DWORD Value”.
  4. For the DWORD name, type “DumpsterAlwaysOn” (without the quotes), and then press “Enter”.
  5. On the right side, double-click “DumpsterAlwaysOn”.
  6. In the Value data box, type “1” (without the quotes), and then click “OK”.
  7. Close the registry editor, and close and restart Outlook.

The next time you restart Outlook, a new item called “Recover Deleted Items” that will display a windows showing all the message you have hard deleted. You simply select a message and click the “Recover Selected Items” in the toolbar to restore the item.

7 Responses to “Microsoft Outlook: How to Recover Hard Deleted Items”

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  2. Andrew Walker says:

    Hm.. Thanks for sharing this. it’s a very nice tutorial you’ve shared there. Nice info!

  3. I work with outlook emails on my job. And I had one client with whom was many troubles. Unfortunately once I lost all his emails to me and was on the verge of discharge. For luck I solved out this situation with the aid of one software. I by chance found out it on a soft blog. The program helped me rapidly and in my humble opinion the utility.

  4. Martini says:

    We are allowed 1,000 emails in our inbox. That’s where you save ’em if you need ’em. If you delete something you needed, you are SOL!

    • Paul says:

      If I had a 1,000 e-mail limit I would lose a lot of e-mails. They archive ours at work, but we can retrieve them by going into the vault.

  5. Martini says:

    Unfortunately for us, our IT force does not save deleted emails on any server. Once they’re deleted, they’re gone for good. Why, just yesterday someone tried to “save” a pile of emails by shifting them from the Inbox to their “deleted” folder. You can imagine her shock when she opened Outlook today and found the deleted folder was empty. Myself and the IT guys had a good laugh.

    • Paul says:

      I guess the word “deleted” didn’t click? Lesson learned…create a separate folder and move the e-mails into that folder.

      I’m surprised your IT department doesn’t save your e-mails for a specific period of time. I guess they figure no one will hard-delete any e-mails accidentally.

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