Tech Tip: How to recover “permanently” deleted items in Outlook.com?

You’ve accidentally deleted items from your Outlook.com e-mail account. You immediately check your Deleted Items folder but no luck. You realize that you’ve probably emptied the Deleted Items folder since deleting those items so those items are no longer recoverable.

Fortunately, if you recently deleted those items, you may still be able to recover them. Items removed from the Deleted Items folder are moved to a Recoverable Items folder before they are permanently purged. You can recover items in the Recoverable Items folder using the “Recover Deleted Items” feature in Outlook.com.

  • First, login to your Outlook.com e-mail account.
  • Next, go to the Deleted Items folder and click on “Recover deleted items.” You can also right-click on the Deleted Items folder to access “Recover deleted items …”
  • A “Recover deleted items” window will appear. Locate the items you accidentally deleted and select each item.
  • Once you have selected all the items you wish to recover, click “Recover”
  • The recoverable items will be restored to the original folder where they were deleted from.
  • Search your Outlook.com e-mail and verify all selected items have been restored.

“Permanently” deleted items in the Recoverable Items folder will not remain there forever so if you accidentally deleted items that are no longer in your Deleted Items folder, use the “Recover Deleted Items” feature as soon as possible.

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Tech Tip: Set retention period for “permanently” deleted items in Office 365 Exchange accounts using PowerShell cmdlets

By default, Office 365 Exchange accounts are setup to hold deleted items in the Recoverable Items folder for fourteen (14) days. This allows a user or administrator to restore recently deleted items that have been removed from the Deleted Items folder but not yet purged from the Recoverable Items folder using the Recover Deleted Items feature in the Office 365 Outlook Web App (OWA) or Outlook 2016 for Windows.

The retention policy may be changed from a default retention period of fourteen (14) days to a maximum of thirty (30) days using Office 365 PowerShell cmdlets.

The following steps assume that you: (1) are an authorized administrator for your Office 365 tenant, (2) have PowerShell properly setup and running on your computer and (3) are comfortable running PowerShell cmdlets to access/make changes to your Office 365 tenant.

First, you will need to initiate an Office 365 PowerShell session. To initiate an Office 365 PowerShell session:

  • Run Windows PowerShell or Windows Azure Active Directory Module for Windows PowerShell as an Administrator
  • Type the following command at the prompt:

 $UserCredential = Get-Credential

  • Enter your Office 365 Administrator user credentials in the dialog window when prompted
  • Type the following command at the prompt:

$Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://outlook.office365.com/powershell-liveid/ -Credential $UserCredential -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection

  • Type the following command at the prompt:

Import-PSSession $session

  • Test the session by typing the following command at the prompt:

Get-mailbox

If the last command returns a list of the Office 365 Exchange accounts in your Office 365 tenant, you have properly initiated an Office 365 PowerShell session.

Before making any changes to the retention policy for your Office 365 tenant, you’ll want to check to see how long permanently deleted items are kept in the Recoverable Items folder of your Office 365 Exchange accounts.

The default retention period will be fourteen (14) days; however, if you have more than one Administrator managing your Office 365 tenant and are unaware of any previous changes made to your Office 365 tenant, you’ll want to verify the current settings by following the steps below:

To check the retention policy for a specific mailbox, type the following command at the prompt:

Note: Replace <Name> with mailbox name

Get-Mailbox “<Name>” | FL RetainDeletedItemsFor

To check the retention policy for all mailboxes, type the following command at the prompt:

Get-Mailbox -ResultSize unlimited -Filter {(RecipientTypeDetails -eq ‘UserMailbox’)} | FL Name,RetainDeletedItemsFor

To change the retention policy for how long permanently deleted items are kept in the Recoverable Items folder of your Office 365 Exchange accounts, follow the steps below.

Note: The maximum retention period is thirty (30) days. The steps below will set the retention period to the maximum period allowed.

To change the retention policy for a specific mailbox, type the following command at the prompt:

Note: Replace <Name> with mailbox name

Set-Mailbox -Identity “<Name>” -RetainDeletedItemsFor 30 

To change the retention policy for all mailboxes, type the following command at the prompt:

Get-Mailbox -ResultSize unlimited -Filter {(RecipientTypeDetails -eq ‘UserMailbox’)} | Set-Mailbox -RetainDeletedItemsFor 30

After making the change to the retention policy, repeat the steps for checking the retention policy for your Office 365 Exchange accounts to verify the changes have been applied accordingly.

Once you are satisfied with the changes, you can end your Office 365 PowerShell session by following the steps below:

To end the Office 365 PowerShell session, type the following command at the prompt:

Remove-PSSession $session

Then, type “Exit” to end and close PowerShell.

 

Tech Tip: Recover “Permanently” Deleted Items in the Office 365 Outlook Web App (OWA) & Outlook 2016 for Windows

So you accidentally deleted an item(s) from your Office 365 Exchange mailbox and those delete items are no longer in your Deleted Items folder.

Oh, no! They’ve been permanently deleted . . . All hope of recovery is lost!

Well, not quite . . .

If your items were recently deleted and removed from the Deleted Items folder, you may be able to recover those “permanently” deleted items in the Recoverable Items folder using the “Recover Deleted Items” feature in the Office 365 Outlook Web App (OWA) or Outlook 2016 for Windows. Unfortunately, this feature is not currently available in Outlook 2016 for Mac.

Using Office 365 Outlook Web App (OWA)

  • Login to your Office 365 Exchange account using the Office 365 Outlook Web App (OWA)
  • Select the “Deleted Items” folder
  • In the Deleted Items pane, select “Recover deleted items.” The Recover deleted items window will appear. Alternatively, you can right-click on the Deleted Items folder then select “Recover deleted items …”
  • Search the list of deleted items for the item(s) that you accidentally deleted
  • Select the item(s) that you want to restore then click “Recover”
  • The recoverable deleted items will be restored to the original folder where those items were deleted from
  • Confirm the recoverable deleted item(s) has been restored

Using Outlook 2016 for Windows

If you are running Outlook 2016 for Windows, there are two ways to access the “Recover Deleted Items” feature.

Option #1:

  • Select the “Deleted Items” folder in Outlook 2016 for Windows
  • Go to the “Home” tab in the Outlook 2016 for Windows menu bar
  • Select “Recover Deleted Items from Server.” The Recover Deleted Items window will appear
  • Search the list of deleted items for the item(s) that you accidentally deleted. You can sort the list by field (Subject, Deleted On, From, Received, Sent To)
  • Select the item(s) that you want to restore then click “Ok”
  • The recoverable deleted items will be restored to the original folder where those items were deleted from
  • Confirm the recoverable deleted item(s) has been restored

Option #2:

  • Go the “Folder” tab in the Outlook 2016 for Windows menu bar
  • Select “Recover Deleted Items.” The Recover Deleted Items window will appear
  • Search the list of deleted items for the item(s) that you accidentally deleted. You can sort the list by field (Subject, Deleted On, From, Received, Sent To)
  • Select the item(s) that you want to restore then click “Ok”
  • The recoverable deleted items will be restored to the original folder where those items were deleted from
  • Confirm the recoverable deleted item(s) has been restored

By default, Office 365 is setup to hold deleted items in the Recoverable Items folder for fourteen (14) days. This setting can be modified to hold deleted items for up to thirty (30) days using Office 365 PowerShell cmdlets. We’ll take a look at using Office 365 PowerShell cmdlets in a future post.