How to Recover Deleted Outlook Emails?
Summary: If you have deleted an Outlook email, you could lose a vital message forever that you may need later. The deleted emails in Outlook could also mean lost email attachments, such as an invoice, business plan, or other important document. This post shares methods to recover deleted Outlook emails, in different scenarios, from different Outlook versions. You may also download the free trial version of Stellar Repair for Outlook — a software that can quickly recover deleted Outlook emails and save them to PST.
When you delete an email or any mail item in Outlook, such as a calendar invite, contact, task, or folder by pressing the delete key or using right-click, the email or mail item goes to the Deleted Items folder. This rule applies to all Outlook versions, including Outlook 2021, 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, and older.
Whether you delete any email from Inbox, Sent Items, Drafts, or any other folder in your Outlook profile, the deleted email will always go to the Deleted Items folder. It’s like a Recycle Bin for Outlook that helps you restore accidentally deleted messages and other mail items.
But what if the deleted message or mail item is not found in the Deleted Items folder? Can we still recover the deleted emails? This post will answer these questions. Below we have discussed all possible scenarios of email deletion and the methods to recover deleted Outlook emails.
Outlook Email Deletion Scenarios
Scenario 1 – Deleted Outlook Email by Pressing the Delete Key (Soft Deletion)
When you delete an email, calendar entry, folder, etc. using the Delete key, the deleted item straightaway goes to the Deleted Items folder. You can easily restore the item from there. Refer to Method 1 for the recovery steps for this scenario.
Scenario 2 – Deleted Outlook Email by Pressing Shift + Delete Keys (Hard Deletion)
When you delete an Outlook email or another item by pressing the Shift + Del keys, the email skips the Deleted Items folder in Outlook.
Also, the normally deleted emails, available in the Deleted Items folder, are automatically deleted from the Deleted Items folder after 30 days or based on the organization’s email retention policy.
The Outlook deleted email recovery methods in this scenario vary based on “how your Outlook is configured”.
Case 1: Outlook Configured Using IMAP
Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) is a messaging protocol for receiving emails via a mail server. Email accounts configured using IMAP protocol store a copy of the emails on the server, allowing access to emails, calendar items, contacts, and other mail items across different devices.
If you can access messages via webmail and see them on multiple devices like computers, mobile, etc., you are using an IMAP email. Alternatively, you can check Outlook email account settings to find out the configuration.
So, if you’re using Outlook with IMAP, you can recover the permanently deleted Outlook emails from the mail server using the “Recover Deleted Items” option described in Method 2.
Case 2: Outlook Configured Using POP
Post Office Protocol or POP is older than IMAP. For email accounts configured using POP, the mail server downloads the incoming messages on the user’s local system. These messages are then removed or cleared from the mail server. So, there is only one copy of these messages, i.e., on the user’s computer.
Note: If you can access the messages only on the particular system where your email client is installed, you are using POP email. Else, you can check the email account settings or ask the email administrator in your organization to know the configuration type.
The Outlook client configured with POP stores emails, attachments, and other items locally in the PST file. The deleted emails, including those emptied from the Deleted Items folder, remain inside the PST file but are generally difficult to recover. Method 3 and Method 4 provide the steps to recover permanently deleted Outlook emails configured using POP.
Scenario 3 – Outlook Emails Purged using “Recover Deleted Items” (Permanent Deletion)
When you purge Outlook emails using the Recover Deleted Items feature. This is available in Outlook accounts configured with Exchange Server using IMAP or MAPI.
Only an administrator can recover such purged emails from the server using eDiscovery features, provided the emails are not purged from the server.
As an individual Outlook user, you can recover the purged (or permanently deleted) Outlook emails if you have an email backup in the form of a PST file. In that case, you can use Method 4 to recover your permanently deleted Outlook emails.
Methods to Recover Deleted Outlook Emails
We have discussed below different methods that you can follow to restore deleted emails in all Outlook versions based on the scenarios described in the preceding section.
Method 1 – Recover Deleted Outlook Emails from the Deleted Items Folder
This method applies to the recovery of emails, calendar entries, and other items in Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, and older versions deleted using the Delete key.
- Open the Outlook application.
- Click the Deleted Items folder.
- Right-click the email or other item like the calendar invite that you want to restore.
- Select Move > folder names, such as Inbox or the location where you want to restore the email or the mail item.
Note: You can restore deleted emails from Deleted Items folder until the retention period is over. By default, the retention period is set between 7 days and 30 days, based on the type of email account you are using or policies set by the administrator.
Method 2 – Use the “Recover Deleted Items” Feature in Outlook
This method helps recover Outlook emails and other mail items deleted using the Shift + Del command. You can also use this method to restore the emails or mail items after Deleted Items folder was emptied and the emails that were automatically deleted from the Deleted Items folder after the 30-day retention period (permanently deleted).
The Recover Deleted Items feature is available for the following Outlook configurations:
- Outlook configured with Exchange Server, Outlook.com, or Microsoft 365 using IMAP.
- Outlook configured with Exchange Server and Messaging Application Programming Interface (MAPI) is enabled.
Note: The MAPI option is available with Outlook 2013, 2016, 2019, and 2021.
Steps to recover permanently deleted Outlook emails using built-in recovery options:
- Open the Outlook app.
- Click the Folder tab in the top ribbon.
- Click Recover Deleted Items.
- Select the email(s) you want to restore and ensure that the “Restore Selected Items” option is selected. Click OK to restore the emails to their original location.
This will restore the deleted email copy from the mailbox server to your Outlook profile.
Method 3 – Use a Hex Editor and ScanPST.exe (Inbox Repair Tool)
This method helps recover deleted emails from Outlook configured with POP, i.e., PST file. Outlook 2013 and older versions, configured with IMAP, also store mail data in a PST file. So, this method applies to the recovery of deleted emails for IMAP-configured accounts of Outlook 2013 and earlier version.
In this method, we will deliberately corrupt the PST file using a hex editor—an application for manipulating binary data (numerical data) stored in a computer file, such as PST. Next, we will use the ScanPST.exe tool to rebuild the index. After rebuilding the PST using ScanPST, start Outlook. The deleted emails or mail items may now show up in the Outlook profile.
Caution: This process requires technical proficiency. It can result in loss of mailbox data if executed incorrectly. So, apply this method on a copy of the PST file (and not the original PST) and only if you feel comfortable executing these steps.
Steps to recover deleted Outlook emails using Hex Editor and ScanPST
- Download a freeware hex editor application like HxD.
- Install the HxD application and launch it.
- Open a copy of the Outlook PST file in the app.
- Delete the 7th to 13th hexadecimal positions using the space bar.
- This will damage the PST without causing any data loss.
- Save the PST file and close the hex editor.
The following steps involve using ScanPST.exe (Inbox Repair Tool) to repair the corrupted PST file:
- Locate scanpst.exe on your system based on the Outlook version as location of scanpst.exe differs for each Outlook version.
- Press Ctrl + R and enter the path to navigate to the ScanPST.exe file location.
- Double-click SCANPST and browse the corrupted PST file. Close Outlook and all mail-enabled applications. Next, click Start to start scanning the selected PST file.
- The tool interface shows the scan results. It creates a backup of the PST file before repairing it. Click Repair to start repairing the PST file.
- After the repair process is complete, create a new PST file in your Outlook profile by navigating to New Items > More Items > Outlook Data File.
- Import the mailbox items from the repaired PST file into the newly created PST file.
Now check for the deleted Outlook emails.
Note: There is no guarantee that this method will work because ScanPST.exe is not built for deleted email recovery. Its efficacy depends on the extent of PST corruption and the actual state of data inside the PST file. It’s a possible workaround that you may try but make sure you backup your emails to a local PST file using Outlook Import Export wizard before proceeding.
Method 4 – Use Outlook Deleted Email Recovery Tool
You can use Stellar Repair for Outlook — a professional PST file recovery tool to recover deleted emails from PST files of any size. This can recover deleted emails from PST files of any Outlook version, including Outlook 2021, 2019, 2016, 2013, and older versions.
For Outlook IMAP accounts with purged emails, the software can recover the deleted emails by scanning the backup PST, if available. Notably, the tool also works on corrupted PST files.
This blog shared the methods to recover deleted Outlook emails, including those purged or permanently lost. The best practice is to identify the specific scenario and then act swiftly to maximize the chances of email recovery from Outlook. The scenarios–to–methods mapping presented in this blog can help you take a targeted course of action. Further, if you want to avoid any hassle and ensure quick deleted emails or mail items recovery, use Stellar Repair for Outlook.