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Are Deleted Emails Really Deleted?

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It is said that “deleted files” are never completely erased unless you actually do so with the proper software. Does this also refer to emails? Once I erase an email (incoming or outgoing copy), does that stick around somewhere also?

In order to make the operation fast, when you delete a file, the operating system typically just sets a flag or removes an entry from a directory – the actual data within the file is left on disk until that space is needed, when it gets overwritten. Does the same apply to email messages?

It depends.

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When deleted emails aren’t really deleted

In almost all email programs and web interfaces, deleting an email message doesn’t actually delete it. Instead, the message is simply moved to a special folder – typically called “trash” or “deleted items”. What happens next depends on the specific program or service.

Most online services automatically delete email from the trash after a certain amount of time – usually around 30 days. That gives you a month to change your mind and recover anything you didn’t mean to delete.

Desktop email programs often have a setting that controls what happens to the trash: either it’s left alone until you explicitly empty it, or it’s emptied automatically when you exit the program.

The real question is, what happens when deleted emails are actually deleted from the trash?

Overflowing Email BinOnline services: we just don’t know

When it comes to online services, we really don’t know how trash is handled. All of that is hidden behind the service provider’s  interface. Chances are it varies from service to service, and in fact might even change over time; they’re not obligated to tell us.

The practical effect for users, though, is that once an email has been removed from an online service’s trash folder, it’s gone. There’s no getting it back – except for some exceptional circumstances I’ll talk about in a moment.

Desktop email programs: it varies

Desktop email programs store email on your computer in a variety of different ways. Some use a fairly complex database all kept in a single file, some use a slightly less complex separate database file for each folder, and others actually use your operating system’s disk structure, mapping email folders to disk folders and storing individual email messages as individual files.

As you might imagine, what happens when the trash gets emptied can vary a great deal.

Where the email program keeps individual messages as individual files, it’s pretty safe to assume that these behave exactly like deleted files, because they are deleted files. It’s possible that they could be undeleted.

Programs that use database files, like Outlook’s PST files,  are much more complex. Much like a disk, when a message it deleted it’s simply marked as deleted, but not actually overwritten until the space it was using is needed. So, theoretically, deleted mail might still exist in one form or another within the database for some time.

Using a “compact” operation, when the email program provides it, typically removes the unused space, so the resulting database no longer has the message. The complication is that the compact function may itself operate by copying the database file to a new file and simply deleting the old one. That in turn means that there may be a deleted copy of the old database that could be undeleted, which could still contain remnants of the deleted message.

Told you it could get complicated.

Don’t forget about backups

One thing that’s very easy to overlook is the impact of backing up when it comes to retrieving email.

That exceptional circumstance I mentioned earlier is exactly that: your online email service could get a legal request to retrieve your email from their backups. That means that even if you have completely deleted an email, that service could possibly still recover it from the backups they took while the email was in your account.

The same is true for your own backups and your desktop email program. If you’re backing up as you should, it’s possible that an email you’ve completely deleted from your desktop email program could be recovered from one of your backups.

Don’t forget about the sender or recipient

Another scenario that people often forget is that email, by definition, starts off with two copies: the copy in the sender’s Sent Mail folder, and the copy that the recipient receives.

Regardless of which you are – sender or recipient – it’s always possible that the email message might be recovered from the other. Deleted emails can often come back to haunt you from this unexpected source.

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164 comments on “Are Deleted Emails Really Deleted?”

  1. I recently went to the local pc store and bought an old 8GB drive to do a test on. The goal was to find who owned it originally.
    The amount of data I found on it was amazing. The drive had been corrupted intentionally by deleting the boot sector and formatting. But the format wasn’t a low level.
    I was able to recover email from hotmail and yahoo, addresses and contacts, personal info and pics. I did this for my own training in the field of computer forensics so I destroyed the drive when I was done and deleted the image.
    The point of the story is ,I am absolutely amazed at what can be recovered! Even after a format. All free web mail is recoverable in the unallocated space of your drive. They are stored in a non-extension format and point to other files. before you sell that drive, erase that thing completely! magnetic?
    again the penguin sleuth kit worked wonders.

    • I am trying to retrieve a deleted email from 5 1/2 years ago. Yahoo mail. Can you help? We also have Carbonite installed on the computer this email was on.

      • it’s VERY unlikely. If your carbonite backups go that far back, then you’ll probably want to see if Carbonite can help you. You’ll need to know EXACTLY how it was stored on your PC – meaning what email program you were using at the time. (If it was never on your PC – as in online only – then Carbonite will not have backed it up.)

    • How do I know pick up any Trash email from over a week how do I pick up an email in the trash bin that’s been there for over a week I like to look at it again

  2. I would like to know is there a way to clear my deleted e-mails from my deleted box? I have deleted 5,450 e-mails how do I get rid of them?

    I am new at this help!

  3. It depends on the email program or interface you are using. MOST will allow you to view the deleted email folder and when doing so will ahve an “empty” option. Or you can go into the deleted folder and delete the messages therein to delete them permanantly.

  4. it’s probably impossible, but i was wondering if it is to recover long lost e-mails. i had a hotmail account 3 years ago (which has long since been inactive and does no longer exist). when i was using this e-mail address, i recieved e-mails but stupidly deleted them all. is there any way at all that i may be able to retrieve any one of them? thankyou, alex.

    • It’s a very long shot, but you may try to contact the sender to see if he still have a copy of those in his Sent Mail folder. Give the old address and the time frame when those old messages where sent. With a lot of luck, you may get something…

  5. If eudora has a “deleted” folder, I’d look in that. I would assume if it doesn’t or if the mail is not there, that they cannot be recovered.

  6. I type an e-mail to someone, but before I can hit the ‘send’ key, the e-mail simply disappears. What happened? Tis is a reasonably frequent event.

    John V

  7. Depends entirely on what email program you’re using. My first guess might be virus or spyware, but that’s really just a guess without more info.

  8. If i deleted some emails from my hotmail account and from the junk folder but now i want them back…is there any way to do that…its urgent.

  9. A friend of mine is on Aol and recently he has been recieving emails from his own screen name. He claims that the mail is his identical screen name the only difference is a diffrent font and all black coloring. He has recieved some of these while he is actually signed on to the internet, which proves that someone cannot be using his own computer to joke around with him.I told him that a family member is probably messing around with him but i dont think they could be doing this while he is actually logged on. Is there possibly some software out there that can enable a hacker to do this?

  10. I am a paralegal working on a class A felony case. I desperately need to recover e-mails sent to a comcast account from another account in 2004. They were deleted a long time ago and the comcast gurus cannot pull them now but they said it was possible. I know there must be a way – please tell me what to do. This is very, very important as evidence. I also need the attachments that were with some of the e-mails. Thanks.

  11. Your best hope is with the ISP(s) involved. If that’s comcast, then you’ll need to continue to work with them.

    IF you have access to the computer/mail folders of the SENDING account, AND they saved all their sent mail to their sent mail folder, then you may be able to recover the mail then from those folders. But there are several “ifs” there, and if a common user, I wouldn’t expect it to still be available.

  12. Leo,
    I have a hotmail address. How can I retrieve all deleted e-mails that were sent to me in Jan.2005?

    Is this possible? After reading the above comments I do not think this is possible.

  13. Leo,
    My older brother says that he has all of my instant messages and emails printed out at his house. lol. He said that everything I ever typed is stored in the hard drive. I was reading on this guy’s comment and he said that he found some of his deleted items in his computer’s hardrive. How do I delete old instant messages and emails from the hard drive that I thought was already deleted? Please help me!!! -Allissa-

  14. Hello, I need to retrieve emails that were deleted from my trash can back in Aug. 2005. Is that possible? If so, can you tell me how to go about it. Thank you

  15. hi,i deleted some of my e-mails by mistake on the 15 of december 2006 and i want to get them back is there a way i could do that? its my hotmail e-mails. plz e-mail me back if there is a way. thank you

  16. Hello,

    Wondered if you could help. My email client has been sending messages for some time now telling me that me mailbox has exceeded its 40mb limit and that I need to delete some emails to free up some space.

    I work for a small business and these emails need to be kept for legal/contractual reference reasons, I also need to be able to search through and filer emails (there are currently about 1500!)

    I use MS Outlook in conjunction with the POP3 server account (BT connect). I was under the impression that the POP3 server deleted messages when transfered/received by MS outlook (I.e when emails are stored on C: drive?).

    Is there a programme that enables you to move the emails to a document folder and retreive them by searching for name (from), receievd date/ sent date etc. As simply saving the emails to a document file does not allow this function and creates new data such as date created (date when saved) and title of email only.

    You help would be much appreciated.

    Andy

  17. I generally create another folder, or another .PST file containing folders, and copy all the mail I want to save in there. Yes, normally a pop3 account will delete email from the server when it’s downloaded, so you should check your configuration settings (there’s an option to leave email on the server buried in the advanced settings for the email account).

  18. Hello Leo my question is I deleted 1,200 emails from my Yahoo account from my inbox folder and thought that they would go straight to my trash folder but when I checked my trash folder to my disbelief they were all deleted from my trash folder is their anyway that I can retrieve my emails back I really need those messages back because my business depends on it could you please get back to me ASAP it would be greatly appreciated

  19. I’m not aware of any way to get them back. This is one of the many reasons I so strongly oppose using free/webmail accounts for anything important.

  20. Why compact e-mails ?They cannot be viewed again.So why not just delete them.It is not easy to transfer e-mails to an external hard drive.E-mails should have the easy options move to like some programs do.

    • When you delete an e-mail, it’s just flagged as deleted and still take up space on your disk. New messages are appended to the older ones. Also, a large amount of deleted messages makes the access of the file containing them longer. In some extreme cases, that file may conceiveably grow larger than what your system can handle.
      Compacting reclaims that space by truely suppressing old deleted messages.
      If you use Thunderbird, transfering your e-mails is as simple as transfering a few folders from one location to another. That way, your messages can be transfered from a Windows computer to one running Linux or to a Mac without any problem.

  21. i need help, a friend of mine lost e-mails off hotmail.com, i was wondering if there was a way to dig up those lost e-mails, i ahve seen other people do it and was wondering if you could help me
    THANK YOU

  22. …emails are never really deleted. I was responsible for the restoration of the emails [.pst files] deleted by the so called NatWest Three here in England. While I will not be talking about the bits ‘n’ pieces of the schedule, they had their emails were deleted before the three brilliant Bankers resigned from the Bank, and I suspect thinking / hoping the back tract is all subjected to a forgoten history.

    However, all emails associated with each of them [ and associates ] were restored and the rest is history as the case is still in court in the US.

    So no one should be under any illusion that by just clicling the delete button, and emptying the bin means “no trace”. As a matter of fact no one needs your personal laptop / desktop to get back all your “deleted emails.

    Thanks.

    phil
    ***********

    • What if the WHOLE EMAIL ACCOUNT IS DELETED?

      My former employer either changed the password, or even deleted the GoDaddy Webmail account for me to use while I was employed, just to destroy the evidences which prove the boss did something illegal. I’m not able to login that account anymore, but if the lawyers and law enforcement get involved, can the account information and all the deleted emails be retrieved even if all the emails had been deleted one by one before the account was deleted or deactivated? Will GoDaddy have to provide all these emails under a court order?

  23. First, if an email were deleted from a hard drive (possibly a “wipe”) would an expert be able to recover it or discern from looking at the drive if it ever even existed? I have been told yes and no. If not on the actual computer it was sent on, then what about the drives of the ISP or email provider??

    Thank you.

  24. The answer isn’t yes or no. It’s maybe. It depends on many, many factors including the type of drive, the length of time, how it was erased … and how much money one is willing to throw at an expert or data recovery service.

  25. If you’re using MS Outlook, when you empty your trash, leave the trash bin highlighted, go to tools, select “Recover deleted items” or something to that effect. There you can select any or all messages that are still there (I’m not sure how long they stay there), or you can permanently delete them (I guess MS decided that when you deleted an email and emptied the trash, that you really never meant to do it).

  26. I deleted an important email on my thunderbird program could it be restored?
    I emptied the trash folder, and i need that email back

    • Under Windows, look in:
      C:users/(user name)/AppData/Roaming/Thunderbird/Profiles/(random characters).default/mail/mail/(service name)/
      There, you’ll find the following files: inbox, inbox.msf, trash and trash.msf and some others.
      The .msf files are indexes and not human readable. You are interested in the larger, extentionless files. Those are the pure text containers holding the messages.

      Unless you compacted the nessages, your deleted messages are still there. In fact, the deleted messages are in two places: “inbox” and “trash”.
      You can open those in any word editor as they are pure text files. Opening a multi Mb file in notepad will take some time, maybe a few minutes.

      Sifting through those can take a lot of time, and be dificult as the attachments are stored inline within each messages. On the bright side, it’s nicely formated and all messages are clearly separated by a few blank lines and the headers.

      On other OS, it’s just the part of the path before /Thunderbird/ that changes.

  27. Hi Leo,

    I’m certain that it’s just a simple matter of oversight on your part, and not an intention of deliberately misleading or misinforming of your readers.

    But, the fact is, that there are an undisclosed, (by Microsoft, that is) and difficult to locate, number of files hidden on any computer running a Microsoft Windows operating system.

    These files, which are hidden in different places, faithfully record:
    1.Your every move,
    2. Every document opened,
    3. Every web site visited,
    4. Every url entered by manually typing it into the address bar,
    5. Every email sent or received,
    6. Your complete favorites list, and
    7. Many other records of the use of every machine running Windows, and using Internet Explorer, Outlook, and/or Outlook Express.

    Just the simple fact that Microsoft has taken great pains to try to conceal the existence of these records of all of your activity should be warning enough that there is something amiss with this situation.

    You cannot locate them using methods available to the commonly unenlightened pc user. But with a bit of care, caution, concern and diligence, they may be safely found and removed by anyone with a basic understanding of the filing systems used in Windows Operating systems file hierarchy.

    I shall not delve into the particulars here because of amount of space and time required to do so. But the instructions on how to locate and remove these files can be found online.

    I shall simply suggest that you and your concerned readers Google “Microsoft’s Hidden index.dat files”, without the quotes, and you should find a number of valid references to great information explaining how to locate and eliminate these “spy” files from your machine.

    I shall not enter any of the urls for the particularly valid and informative sites here, so as to not violate any of your rules for posts.

    I simply wanted to set the record straight by making your readers aware that they should look a little deeper for the full answer to the question that is the topic of this post.

    Why?

    Simply for the fact that it’s illegal for anyone to spy on your privacy.

    Is that not reason enough to stop someone who already doing so without your consent or knowledge?

    I think so.

    All you really need to do to learn more is to Google “remove index.dat files”, without the quotes. You’ll find a number of valid and legitmate sources of good information along with the truth about whether any files are really deleted after you think you’ve deleted them or not.

    Humbly yours,

    Michael

  28. —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
    Hash: SHA1

    I almost deleted the preceding comment.

    I want to be clear: I absolutely don’t buy into the paranoia expressed
    in the comment above. I don’t believe that Microsoft has some master
    conspiracy to spy on Windows users for unknown reasons.

    The problem is that there’s no convincing those who believe there is.

    Microsoft hasn’t taken great pains to conceal anything. Yeah, they don’t
    document absolutely everything, and sometimes complete information is
    difficult to get. No argument there.

    Yet, every undocumented file, every failure to erase absolutely
    everything, every leftover fragment of information found for any benign
    reason is taken as “proof” of the conspiracy.

    Sorry, but I don’t buy it. index.dat files are not “spy” files at all –
    they’re part of how Internet Explorer and other applications work to
    provide the features they provide.

    Microsoft is not coordinated enough internally (trust me on this – I
    worked there, remember?) to achieve that level of conspiracy.

    Oh darn. I worked there. Which means that conspiracy theorists won’t
    believe me anyway.

    Sorry, but all the cloak-and-dagger “I shall not …” – implying there
    are facts that you’re unwilling to document – just doesn’t make a case.
    If those facts are already out there, then post a link or two. If the
    facts aren’t out there – well, that tells me something, but go ahead and
    get a blog of your own and post it all there.

    So yes, remove index.dat files – and whatever else you might want to
    remove. You may find that you lose a little functionality, as they do
    actually do serve a purpose, but if it makes you sleep better, go for
    it.

    Or, if you like, drop Windows and IE completely – there are
    alternatives.

    But in my opinion, your comments, and your approach, serve only to scare
    people who have no reason to be scared.

    Leo
    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE—–
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    iD8DBQFF4oJBCMEe9B/8oqERAv9mAJ4/RDbhV1R695elQrLW8iMAhmMwQQCfatY1
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    =64vE
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  29. hey, i wanted to know if it is possible that someone could alter your emails. meaning can an email that the sender submits to a the receiver be altered to show that the receiver was the one who sent it? this seems to have occurred, and i have copies of e-mails that are clearly sent to me by the other party, and they have the same. only one of them can be true, and i know that i received the emails not the one who sent them. is this possible to do???

  30. Try this. Open up your yahoo e-mail account, type in the word “the” and hit search e-mail button. I was amazed as hundreds of “deleted” e-mails popped up, back to 2001. Junk mail, personal mail, you name it. Can someone tell me why Yahoo saves our old e-mails, and who has access to that info, including passwords, addresses and phone numbers ect…

  31. I deleted all the e-mails in my Hotmail inbox on accident. I really need to know if there is a way to get these back. Thanks for any help you can give me!

    Not that I know of. That’s why I always recommend backing up off-line.

    -Leo

  32. so like for hotmail, since it is server based how once it drops of my account it is really really gone??

    Yep. (OK, I suppose there may be backups or something that they could recover if the police came to them with a court order, but for all practical puposes for normal operation – once it’s gone, it’s gone.)

    -Leo

  33. hello
    i’d deleted my account and before that i deleted all my mails then now i remember i had deleted too many important mails and i need it i tried to find it in trash but it was empty.please help.
    thanks

    Can’t help you. You didn’t indicate what email service you use, or what email program you use, whether it’s web based or PC based. All that makes a difference.

    It sounds like unless you made a backup before deleting, everything’s gone.

    – Leo
    21-Oct-2008
  34. I read the answers you gave to individuals needing to retrieve deleted email. Just to be clear. I am trying to retrieve an email that i accidently deleted from my trash on my Yahoo account. Are you saying there is absolutely no way to get those back other than a court order or some type of legal intervention?

    Thank you

    I’ll never say “absolutely no way”, but I will say that in your shoes I would definitely consider it a lost cause.

    – Leo
    20-Nov-2008
  35. How could I retrieve my Gmail deleted mails.please help me I accidentally deleted those mails.I need those mails.

    Check the “All Mail” link, and the “Trash” link, both on the left hand side of the GMail screen. If they’re not there, they they’re gone forever.

    – Leo
    14-Feb-2009
  36. Sometimes when you have deleted emails, you can still find them in Mail2Web. I use Outlook Express. I have found, though, that Mail2Web lets the Inbox fill WAY, WAY up, and I need to go in there about at least once a week and delete all the emails I don’t want to save there.

  37. Hi there.. i am wondering, i accidently deleted a few e-mails a while back that i now currently need… how would i go about retrieving them? do i contact hotmail themselves? and if so how do i do that as i cannot find an e-mail address for them. These e-mails are VERY important and i have no clue how i managed to delete them but i really really do need them back. please if you can get back to me ASAP that would be greatly appreciated.

    Check the deleted folder, and if it’s not there, then I know of no way to get it back.

    – Leo
    21-Mar-2009
  38. I need help….
    there are emails that I need to retrieve dating back to july 06….
    i have always used aol…the laptop that I was using had been restored recently…
    These emails are something that can help me in court,,,,what can I do?

    • Hi, you can view your email from AOL PFC file. PFC file is generated in case of Desktop AOL. If you want more info about retrieve AOL data then go to “https://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/AOL-PFC-File-Reader-051bd136” , it is a free PFC Reader tool to view AOL emails from PFC file. You just need to add PFC file to this tool for scanning then you can see your emails.

  39. i use Incredimail it has a sheet for deleted items which can be used to see but lately all it does is list the deleted emails no read deleted some real important need badly could you help

  40. I have hotmail and want to retrieve my drafts and deleted mail from the manage folder. What do I have to do?

  41. Ok so what about this. I use gmail are my emails somehow stored on my computer where if I get rid of it they will be someone will be able to read them?

    Since GMail is web-based, your emails may appear in your browser’s cache. Clear your cache.

    Leo
    18-Oct-2009

  42. AOL emails – I deleted some emails using AOL then deleted from the recently deleted area – can I retrieve them at all or just out of luck.

  43. I changed my internet provider recently and have since realised that i have lost some of my contact email addresses and some emails that I now need, is there any way to retrieve them? My isp was tiscali.

  44. I found an answer online once, but I forgot what it was. LOL… so I was experimenting when the same darn thing happened TONIGHT. I hit edit, and UNDO, and the text came back! yay!!! Hope it works for YOU.

  45. I use yahoo email….I want to permanently delete the emails…….will “sdelete” work for that or will just deleting them while the account is open do the trick?

  46. I have a friend that says he has a software program where he can retreive MY deleted e-mails(I’m on G-Mail just by typing in my name & his name. This is for my home computer & he does not have my password. We used to work together in the same office & I know he was able to do this at the office. Is this true?!!! or is he just trying to scare me?

    Too many unknowns here to be able to say yes or no. Certainly in an office environment there’s lots of stuff that could be going on in the background – something as simple as archiving all incoming and outgoing email could be used to restore a message deleted by mistake. On your personal computer it depend entirely on the specifics of your situation. Possible, I suppose, but I’m uncomfortable saying even that since there are so many variables.

    Leo
    22-Apr-2010

  47. is there a way in which someone who has had my password but now does not can continue reading my emails even the deleted ones? i am afraid she might have installed a programm or something to get my sent and received files not necesarily entering my account, but to another address, is that possible?? I checked on the options of hotmail found that the adding of alternative email etc were empty but eventhoug i dont feel secure.

  48. Hi Sir,I received an email today 16th may from a company asking for prices on my stock,i emailed back with prices and sent email,then i noticed on the email i sent back there was a link were i had wrote dear corianhttps//email/inbox1/,i pressed on the link and it came back to my gmail account,I asked a friend to type the http code into his search engine and see were it would take him,he told me he was inside my gmail account and could see all my inbox messages,Please Help sir,Thank You

  49. I’ve seen on the news how these financial companies (Goldman Sachs, etc.) have internal company emails that show them writing to each other with pretty damning content of potential wrong doing. Some of these emails go way back; several years. Same thing with the Global Warming emails in Scotland that have now come back to haunt them.

    How is it that these emails are still around for the press and media to get a hold of for all to see? You would think that they would delete this correspondence so it would not be admissible in court. Or, if Yahoo or HotMail is used, do they have records saved of everyone

  50. Is there a way to retrieve deleted messages on facebook through messages? Also how do you retrieve sent and received emails?? Can you please get back to me

  51. I use ccleaner regularly to make sure files are really deleted. Is there a similar tool that will wipe the file where WLM “deleted” emails are? WLM has a compact function, so as you said there must be a file somewhere.

    Compact – deleted messages are then removed from the compacted email storage. Then run CCleaner’s clean operation to wipe the free space to remove residual traces that might be left.

    Leo
    09-Aug-2010

  52. hello sir..

    actually i want to know about the procedure that how i can get my deleted and sent mails on gmail account..??
    i have checked out my spam + trash too but was failed to get all that mails ..
    plz sir may i have a solution for this prob..??

  53. Hi, i would like to know how to retrieve deleted facebook messages…. and email messages from a prodigy server its prodigy.net mail i really need to retrieve these messages do you know of any way in which i could do this? please let me know , thank you, your advice is really appreciated I no that you say that some cant be retrieved so i want to know if this prodigy server can be retrieved as it doesn’t seem like its too complex. Like you said there is no one answer to what happens when they are deleted…. this is why im asking

    thanks again.

  54. I sent a picture from my blackberry to my personal email address, but my blackberry was set up to sent the message through my work MS exchange address. I have deleted the picture from my sent folder and emptied my deleted items. My question is, can my employer see the picture that was sent?

  55. My spouse has been rampantly unfaithful, making contacts through an email account ( Yahoo ). Is there a way to retrieve deleted messages?

    To the best of my knowledge: no. Pretty much like the article says.

    Leo
    16-Oct-2010

  56. I deleted an e-mail and now I need it, because I have been taken for some money.. It will help the bank also. Thank-you

  57. I sent a picture from my email hotmail to my personal email address. I have deleted the picture from my sent folder and emptied my deleted items. My question is, can my employer see the picture that was sent? and i can get the picture back ? thank you please i need it very urgent .

    You didn’t indicate where the employer is in all this. But generally you should assume that yes, they can see whatever is transmitted over their networks and/or stored on machines that they own. Whether they DO or not is anyone’s guess. Not enough information for me to say whether you can get the picture back, but I’m guessing no.

    Leo
    19-Apr-2011
  58. Yahoo email SEARCH still shows deleted email (although it can’t be opened). How can I remove all evidence of email from SEARCH?

  59. What is the procedure to return back all deleted E-Mail’s ?
    Thanks

    There is no procedure. Please read the article you just commented on.

    Leo
    28-Jun-2011

  60. The fixit or registry adjustment in MS knowledge base article 246153 enabled me to recover email deleted from a “deleted items” folder in Outlook 2007 from mail stored on Microsoft Exchange. After applying the fix, you reopen Outlook, highlight the folder that the mail was deleted from, and in Tools, click Recover. The email deleted was days old although just deleted the prior day. You have to select the mail from the list derived and then click a recover button in the menu. Both email and its attachment were recovered.

  61. hi,
    i have open my personal emails from company laptop.
    i have sent some and deleted some .
    can the company trace that? can the company check all these emails?

    The company certainly could have installed spyware or monitoring tools, or if you sent via the company network they could have seen that too.

    Leo
    08-Sep-2011

  62. @Muraldhar
    You don’t specify which email program or web based email you use, but one thing you might try is contacting the people you sent the pictures to, otherwise try doing what the article recommends.

  63. Hello, I’m currently in the middle of a court case and need to retreive old emails I had from my ex husband which I deleted… it was all through hotmail. The emails would be from 2007 and up. Is there anyway you can help me? Or is this simply a lost cause….

  64. I deleated a email from a friend of mine and he gave me his new one, because hot mail was sending him some of my junk. so now he is still getting emails from me atleast 3 times a week through an email that i deleated and it states i sent them, hope you can help, Oh i check for virus and everything looks good as far as that goes.

    • Right on the first point, wrong on the second.
      It’s a sign of someone pretending to be you without any need to hack your account, and not even using that same service provider nor been in the same continent.

  65. i delet my email from sent items i have some very important pics there plz help me tel me how i can get back these pics and email

  66. I need to recover some emails from the 1st of April to 31st May . I used gmail from my phone but it aslo appeared on my pc.. Plse help

  67. Why are all my emails and deletes going into my hotmail mail box?. Outlook express processes incoming,outgoing and deleted emails.

  68. In Outlook Express (and Outlook too?) messages strangely occupy twice as much space on the hard drive after they are deleted. This is because they now take up space in the Deleted Items folder as well as in the Inbox or other source folder. Furthermore, they can still be recovered from the original folder or even an emptied Deleted Items folder by using a suitable utility, such as Advanced Outlook Express Repair.
    As Leo says, they are only truly gone after the original folder and emptied Deleted Items folder have been compacted, or else securely deleted or “shredded” in Windows Explorer.

  69. Is deleting the email from the trash folder, does that mean email is deleted forever and the company cant retrieve it?

  70. Twice on yahoo mail this year, I’ve found deleted emails back in my inbox and even in my SENT box after I deleted all these. What is going on? I thought that when you deleted and emptied the trash it was gone forever. Now I find these emails coming back to me nearly a month later.

    The second time, I had just blocked an email address. I don’t know if I had done this the first time that I had this problem. I’m wondering if playing with the settings like this triggers something.

    • If you are also accessing your email using IMAP on your smartphone then this may simply be the result of errors in syncing.

  71. if i have permanently deleted an email in my yahoo email by moving it to the trash, can it still show up in the emails of someone i sent it to previously years ago?

    • You can delete sent email from your email account, but there’s no way you can delete it from the recipients account or computer. The last section of the article was clear on that.

  72. If someone has sent a threating email, we turned it into authorities but they have now deleted it, how can we find out who sent the email ?

  73. i have permanently deleted forever some of my files on gmail drive, could I able to recover it? it was almost a year now.
    please help!
    thank you

    • “permanently deleted” means … permanently deleted. After a year seems extremely unlikely unless you had backed them up yourself somewhere else.

  74. 1)I deleted email messages from my android Gmail inbox and trash.. Are they gone for ever? And can i retrieve them back again?
    2)how to make the senders mails not exist?

    • 1. If you mean gone for ever from the GMail servers, the answer is no. Email providers keep copies of everything for a period of time. If you mean can you recover the emails? Then no, not without help from law enforcement.
      2. It’s nor clear what you’re asking, but if you mean delete it from the sender’s email service or program. You can’t.

  75. How do i get emails from aol (or aka aim) that I have deleted and deleted in trash?
    I tried to contact aol (aim) to have them retrieve for me but they wont get back with me I am even willing to pay for them.

    • The answer is a definite maybe. When files are deleted from the Recycle folder, they aren’t really deleted. They are simply marked as reusable space which can be overwritten when a program needs that space to write a file. If no part of the file has been overwritten, programs like Recuva can recover them. The more you use the computer after deletion from the Recycle folder the lower the probability of recovery becomes.
      I deleted a file by mistake – can I get it back?

  76. I HAVE ABOUT 50 EMAILS WHICH HAVE LITTLE LINES THRU THEM. WHEN I CLICKED ON THE ITEM, THE LINE AUTOMATICALLY APPEARED. THOSE ITEMS CANNOT BE DELETED OR MOVED TO TRASH OR SENT TO SOMEONE WHO MAY KNOW THE ANSWER. LOTS OF THESE ARE FROM “BABA MAIL”, HEALTH ADVICE SITES, ETC. WHAT CAN I DO? THANK YOU.

  77. I was actually in Facebook typing a personal message to someone and all of a sudden an old email that I had deleted from my gmail account two weeks ago automatically was placed in the send box to the individual I was typing a personal message to. This really freaked me out, for what was written in the gmail account would not have been appropriate to send to that one Facebook friend. My question to you is, how in the hell did this occur? Could be a very dangerous situation in some cases. What’s your take on this? Thanks

  78. I currently have gmail for my email. The other day, all of my emails were gone. i had kept important ones in my inbox, but everything was gone. A day later, some of them appeared in my trash folder (I had previoulsly checked there, but only emails from 2013 and earlier were there?). I moved them to my inbox, and they were there all day yesterday. This morning, I get into my email on both a computer and my iphone, and poof, again they are gone! How can I get them back? Help!!

  79. I deleted an email that I sent out ten days ago.
    Does this also delete the copy of the email that the recipient has received from me or will it still be safe?

  80. If a user has deleted a message permanently, by clicking Delete Forever in Spam or Trash or through your domain’s email retention policies, it isn’t possible to recover the message. It is also impossible to recover messages after an administrator deletes a user’s account. Google Support cannot recover permanently deleted messages.

  81. Hi There,

    I tried to check my yahoomail message back from 2010 but surprisingly my oldest mail is showing only from June 2011 onward so I checked my other yahoomail account and shows also the same, yahoo probably deleted my old messages. Is there any way I can retrieve my old messages?
    Thanks guys.

  82. From what I’ve read it seems “free” mail addresses are not that secure eg. Gmail etc.
    or do I have the wrong end of the stick??

  83. Hotmail has a feature whereby people can retrieve their deleted emails they’ve received or sent. It can be found in “Options”>>>”More Options” apparently.
    I do NOT want to be able to retrieve deleted emails, yet I cannot find where in “Options” to do this. I do not have a “More Options” pane. If you might
    suggest where/how I can have the emails permanently deleted, I’d appreciate it.

  84. i recently deleted my email… i use gmail, and when i erased the email it went to trash folder, but i deleted it also. is it possible to recover the email?

  85. I deleted about 21 emails this am from ysta & early this am. Cannot retrive as trash shows only 2 msgs. What happened to others?

  86. my deleted emails keep coming back into my new and current mail and i have to delete all over again how can i stop this Thank you

  87. I’ve the Opposite problem. An email I delete keeps reinserting itself back into inbox. I’ve “deleted” (and moved to other folders) it about ten times now and once the page is refreshed it’s back.

  88. Hi my incredimail prog version 2.0 crashed, I had to delete and reinstall – which I did, except I ended up with a newer version 2.5 and lost all my previous emails. I have enlisted outside help to retrieve the lost emails to no avail – also I cannot do a system restore back to around 15th March 2017 as there are only 2 restore points showing. How or where can I get help to get me back to the older incredimail version 2 and also retrieve lost emails. I have lost emails for 2016 and 2017 which are very important to me.

    • A system restore wouldn’t work to restore the older installation of a program, even if you had a restore point from before the installation. System Restore is little more than a registry backup and doesn’t really restore your system. That’s what backups are designed to do. It’s unfortunate, but many of the names Microsoft uses are misleading and confusing.
      https://askleo.com/why_i_dont_like_system_restore/

  89. Hi I had a work email gmail account controlled by head office I guess. Before leaving I deleted all personal emails etc that I didn’t feel the company needed to see, passwords etc.
    I then deleted these from trash/bin
    Would my employer be able to recover these? I’m concerned for confidentiality reasons. Thanks

    • Unfortunately, they probably can. Companies keep backups of their data, and if this is a company controlled account, it’s safest to assume it was backed up. I’d change any passwords that may have been compromised.

  90. Dear Lee, some mails have been deleted from my inbox and trash on 5th May 2018 at around 4 pm. I need to get back those mails soon. How can I get those missing mails in my inbox? Can you please help me? Thank you.

    • It depends on the service or email program you’re using, but very likely if you deleted them and emptied the trash they cannot be recovered.

  91. hi recently on july 2018, my emails are deleted by someone even from parmanently delete folder so can i recover again its important and is it possible sir.

  92. From a long time email user and former network engineer: Email is fragile, insecure and not private. “Free” email is less less secure, less private than corporate email. “Free” – there is no such thing as a free commercial service from a commercial business. Free commercial service means that you are not charged for it in an obvious way, so the provider has no responsibility for providing it or a Quality of Service.

    Time have changed, but for since it was first made available, there have been two fundamental ways for using “free” email; desktop and web.

    With webmail you are putting all your eggs in one basket, trusting that the service provider has the security and competence to protect your information and preserve it. The larger providers, like Google, Microsoft and Apple are generally more trustworthy than ISPs who outsource their mail service based on cost.

    My experience my ISP, one of the largest cable companies, is that within an hour of creating a new secondary mailbox, I start receiving SPAM addressed to it, This mail system has no automatic spam detection or filtering. This is typical of Xfinity and Yahoo/ATTMail. On the other hand, GMail does a good job of automatically filtering and sequestering spam regardless of whether it was sent directly to my mailbox, pulled from another system, or forwarded to it, either automatically or by a well meaning.acquaintance.

    Of the “free” email options available to me GMail seem to be the most reliable, but the most intrusive. EVERY message is automatically read by its servers. That is how SPAM filtering works. If I had anything that needed to be transmitted by email that I wanted to be totally private, I would not send or accept it as a message that was composed in a mail client, but compose, encode and then encrypt it before attaching it to a message. That amount of effort is unwarranted for 99.99% of all email traffic.

    All of the public free email services have lost ALL mail that I had saved on their servers, more than once in the last 10 years. For that reason I always relied on desktop clients. If retaining mail is important, a desktop client gives you that control.

    A simple desktop client like Outlook Express can pull messages from a mail server, leave them on the server or sync them. Syncing can be modified on some clients so that local deletion doesn’t delete the server’s copy. The downside of using a mail client app is that PCs crash unpredictably, so if you haven’t the foresight to put your mail store of an automatic replica/backup on a non-system partition, it might be lost during a system restoration.

    Regarding privacy and PC disposal, the only reliable way to remove user data from a PC without physically destroying the hard drive is to understand what you are doing. The simplest method is to keep data on a non system drive or drive partition and run a utility that overwrites every part of that partition with random data SEVERAL times. While a low level format seems to remove the data, it doesn’t. If the user has recently run a “defrag” routine, the data is recoverable from the fringes of the data tracks by a skilled tech who is motivated to recover it.

    For most people, the best privacy assurance they have is provided by their poor data practices – lack of organization, profligent data retention and hoarding.. Finding “gold” in a mountain of random garbage is possible, but rarely worth the effort.

    • Do you still use Outlook Express? That is risky as it can lose emails if it has too many to handle. Thunderbird is much safer, even though it lacks some of OE’s great features.
      https://askleo.com/why_outlook_express_must_die/

      If you use IMAP or POP3 with the “Leave mail on server” option checked, you have a backup. One copy in your email program and one on the email provider’s server.

      As for wiping a hard drive before disposal, you can use a utility like DBAN which overwrites your data several times with randomized garbage data. If you want to wipe an external drive, you can delete the files normally, make sure the recycle bin is empty, and run a free space wipe with a program like CCleaner or other free space wiping utility.
      Simply keeping all of your personal data on an external drive will provide some security except against the people who might search for the gold in the garbage pile of temporary files, hibernation files, and swap files.

  93. I recently decided to use the email migration tool to migrate all my gmail email into my G suites business email. Before I started, I looked at my gmail account and made a note of the fact that there were about 55,000 emails. But guess what! When the emails were migrated into G suites, a total of 79,000 emails migrated in. On closer examination, the extra 24,000 email were emails that I had previously DELETED and even had emptied from my trash bin. To my shock and horror, deleted emails on Gmail aren’t really deleted at all. While those emails were no longer accessible to me in Gmail, there were stored somewhere on Google because ultimately the migration tool retrieved them into my business account. Scary stuff.

  94. I wanted to print out e-mails between my brother and me when he was in Iraq in 2005. Until a couple of years ago I could still see them in my inbox but now my inbox only shows e-mails as far back as 2008. I never deleted the 2005 e-mails from my account. Is there anyway to retrieve those 2005 e-mails from my computer?

    • Without knowing what email program or provider you’re using there’s no way to tell. You might ask the provider. This is one reason I so frequently recommend backing up your email yourself, to your own computer, where it remains in your control.

  95. Hi leo,
    Thank you for your reply. I will try your suggestion to start with my provider and see if they can help. If not, I guess I’m just going to let it go.

  96. i sent an email but want to delete the said email from the recipient and replace it with a new one. because the one i sent had some erros
    which i don`t want to be seen. or if they have already been seen i don`t want any future refrence to the particular mail. please help if there is a possibility i would appreciate.

    thanks
    Mpox

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