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How to Recover Deleted Emails

If you delete a message accidentally, you may be able to retrieve it without requiring an expensive data restore. Here are three steps to take to find your missing emails.

Step 1: Search for lost messages

It’s possible that the messages you want are still in your mailbox but not in the location you are expecting. So your first step is a complete mailbox search.


  • Try searching in both Outlook and Outlook Web App (OWA). If you normally use a different email client, use Outlook Web App to perform the search.
  • Ensure you select Entire Mailbox in the search criteria.
  • Use Advanced Search options, such as From, To, Subject as keywords.

Step 2: Check your deleted messages

When you delete a message, it is moved to the Deleted Items folder. If you do nothing, the deleted item will stay there for 90 days. After that, it is automatically removed.

In some cases, deleted items may not be kept for 90 days, for example if you manually delete them before that, and configure Outlook to delete them each time you log off.

Assuming the message you want is still in your Deleted Items folder, you can easily restore it:

  1. Click on the Deleted Items folder
  2. Select the message you want and click[Recover]
  3. The message is restored to the folder from where it was deleted.

If the lost item is not in your Deleted Items folder, you might still be able to recover it. When items are removed from the Deleted Items folder, they are kept in the Recover Deleted Items store for a further 30 days and you can still access them.

  1. Click on the Deleted Items folder
  2. Click [Recover Deleted Items] to see the items you can recover
  3. Click the message you want to restore and then click the Recover Selected Items button.
  4. The message is restored to the folder from where it was deleted.


  • If you have deleted entire folders and are trying to recover them from the Deleted Items folder you must ensure that you are in Folder List view  or you won’t be able to see them in the Deleted Items folder.
  • If you delete an entire folder, you will be able to see it in  the Deleted Items folder, but the Recover Deleted Items container is not aware of the folder structure. This means you won’t see the deleted folder listed but there will be lots of items deleted at the time you deleted the folder.

Step 3: File recovery

If the files are not present in the Deleted Items folder or in the Recover Deleted item store it may be possible to recover the purges folder. The purges folder is a hidden folder in the user’s mailbox that contains items for 30 days from the point that they passed through the Recover Deleted item store into the purges folder. This folder can only be recovered by the Nexus Team and you must complete a Data Recovery Service Request . There is a cost for this service.

The Nexus team can only export the Purges the folder in the format of a .PST file. This will be passed to the requestor to open with an email client and the requestor will need to search through the purges folder to locate the missing items themselves and then add these back into their own mailbox, if the file exists. The Nexus Team cannot search the Purges folder prior to carrying out the export to confirm that the files are present.

Further information

Recover deleted email messages in Outlook on the web (Microsoft guidance)

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Written by IT Services. Latest revision 29 July 2020