Recover deleted messages in a user's mailbox in Exchange Online

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(This article is intended for Exchange administrators.)

Administrators can search for and recover deleted email messages in a user's mailbox. This includes items that are permanently deleted (purged) by a person (by using the Recover Deleted Items feature in Outlook or Outlook on the web (formerly known as Outlook Web App)), or items deleted by an automated process, such as the retention policy assigned to user mailboxes. In these situations, the purged items can't be recovered by a user. But administrators can recover purged messages if the deleted item retention period for the item hasn't expired.

Note

In addition to using this procedure to search for and recover deleted items (which are moved to the Recoverable Items\Purges folder if either single item recovery or litigation hold is enabled), you can also use this procedure to search for items residing in other folders in the mailbox and to delete items from the source mailbox (also known as search and destroy).

What you need to know before you begin?

  • Estimated time to complete: 15-30 minutes.

  • Procedures in this article require specific permissions. See each procedure for its permissions information.

  • Single item recovery must be enabled for a mailbox before the item you want to recover is deleted. In Exchange Online, single item recovery is enabled by default when a new mailbox is created. In Exchange Server, single item recovery is disabled when a mailbox is created. For more information, see Enable or disable single item recovery for a mailbox.

  • To search for and recover items, you must have the following information:

    • Source mailbox: This is the mailbox being searched.

    • Target mailbox: This is the discovery mailbox in which messages will be recovered. Exchange Setup creates a default discovery mailbox. In Exchange Online, a discovery mailbox is also created by default. If necessary, you can create additional discovery mailboxes. For details, see Create a discovery mailbox.

    • Search criteria: Criteria include sender or recipient, or keywords (words or phrases) in the message.

  • This article focuses on using PowerShell to recover deleted items in a user's mailbox. You can also use the GUI-based In-Place eDiscovery tool to find and export deleted items to a PST file. The user will use this PST file to restore the deleted messages to their mailbox. For detailed instructions, see Recover deleted items in a user's mailbox - Admin Help.

Use new EAC for recovering deleted messages

  1. In the new EAC, navigate to Recipients > Mailboxes.

  2. Select the mailbox for which you want to recover deleted messages, and click on the display name.

  3. Under More actions, click Recover deleted items.

  4. Enter values for each or either of the filter criteria from the drop-down lists.

  5. Click Apply filter.

Using PowerShell to manage deleted items

Step 1: Connect to Exchange Online PowerShell

For instructions, see Connect to Exchange Online PowerShell.

Step 2: Search for and recover missing items

You need permissions before you can do this procedure or procedures. To see what permissions you need, see the "In-Place eDiscovery" entry in the Feature permissions in Exchange Online article.

Note

You can use In-Place eDiscovery in the Exchange admin center (EAC) to search for missing items. However, when using the EAC, you can't restrict the search to the Recoverable Items folder. Messages matching your search parameters will be returned even if they're not deleted. After they're recovered to the specified discovery mailbox, you may need to review the search results and remove unnecessary messages before recovering the remaining messages to the user's mailbox or exporting them to a .pst file. For details about how to use the EAC to perform an In-Place eDiscovery search, see Create an In-Place eDiscovery search.

Use the Exchange Online PowerShell to search for messages

Get-RecoverableItems -Identity laura@contoso.com -SubjectContains "FY17 Accounting" -FilterItemType IPM.Note -FilterStartTime "2/1/2018 12:00:00 AM" -FilterEndTime "2/5/2018 11:59:59 PM"

This example returns all of the available recoverable deleted messages with the specified subject in the mailbox laura@contoso.com for the specified date/time range.

Tip

Use the Get-RecoverableItems cmdlet to create a search query to find an Outlook item. Once you have a list of results you can use properties like last modified date, item type, etc. to narrow the amount of items restored or to restore a specific item.

For detailed syntax and parameter information, see Get-RecoverableItems.

How do you know this worked?

To verify that you have successfully searched the messages you want to recover, log on to the discovery mailbox you selected as the target mailbox and review the search results.

Step 3: Restore recovered items

You need permissions before you can do this procedure or procedures. To see what permissions you need, see the "In-Place eDiscovery" entry in the Feature permissions in Exchange Online article.

Note

You can't use the EAC to restore recovered items.

After messages have been recovered to a discovery mailbox, you can restore them to the user's mailbox by using the Restore-RecoverableItems cmdlet.

Use Exchange Online PowerShell to restore messages

Restore-RecoverableItems -Identity "malik@contoso.com","lillian@contoso.com" -FilterItemType IPM.Note -SubjectContains "COGS FY17 Review" -FilterStartTime "3/15/2019 12:00:00 AM" -FilterEndTime "3/25/2019 11:59:59 PM" -MaxParallelSize 2

After using the Get-RecoverableItems cmdlet to verify the existence of the item, this example restores the specified deleted items in the specified mailboxes:

Mailboxes: malik@contoso.com, lillian@contoso.com

Item type: Email message

Message subject: COGS FY17 Review

Location: Recoverable Items\Deletions

Date range: 3/15/2019 to 3/25/2019

Number of mailboxes processed simultaneously: 2

For detailed syntax and parameter information, see Restore-RecoverableItems.

How do you know this worked?

To verify that you have successfully recovered messages to the user's mailbox, have the user review messages in the target folder you specified in the above command.

More information

Related article

Are you using Exchange Server? See Recover deleted messages in a user's mailbox in Exchange Server.