Possibility to Restore Shift Deleted Emails from Outlook 2010

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Data deletion is a phenomenon that can be intentional or accidental. In MS Outlook, there are two ways to delete email or any other item:

Soft Deletion: Once removed from any folder, the item is moved to the “Deleted Items” folder from where it can be restored. This is known as temporary deletion.

Hard Deletion: This is the next level of soft deletion where the item is removed from “Deleted Items” folder. This type of deletion also happens when an item is removed from a folder using “Shift+Del” key.

So, from the above definitions, it is clear that there is possibility of restore deleted emails Outlook 2010 after soft deletion. But the question is it possible to get back data when the items are permanently deleted from PST file. 

Scope to Restore Permanently Deleted Items from PST

If the PST file is not overwritten, there is a positive chance of recovering emails or other items, even if they are permanently deleted. A PST file does not get overwritten until it is auto-compacted by Outlook® or by the user manually. Once a PST file is compacted, the white-space for deleted items get removed and cuts down the chance of recovery, no matter what attempt is made to restore shift deleted items in Outlook.

Technical Insights: If using Outlook is a part of your daily routine, then you might have discovered the fact that deletion of any item from the file (even when emptied from deleted items folder) does not make a difference in size of PST file. The reason for that is that the Outlook PST file does not shrink or compact when the application is functioning. This is done in order to optimize the performance of Outlook® because shrinking and expanding the PST is a slow job. Therefore, when an item is deleted from PST file, it does not affect size of file.

When an item is deleted, white space is created for it in the PST file. When the PST file has a certain amount of this white space and Outlook is in running mode, then the application automatically compacts the PST file and removes this free space from PST file, eliminating the opportunity to recover permanently deleted emails from the file. Also, the user has the ability to remove this white space by using the ‘Compact Now’ option.

So, until the white space is removed and if the application does not welcome new data to be saved on the free space, there are positive chances of restoring deleted data from PST file. There are different ways to get back shift deleted emails in Outlook that include using the hex editor or third party tools. Also, previous versions in Windows 8 and File History in Windows 8 can be used to get back data that is been permanently deleted.

Conclusion: It is possible to restore deleted emails in Outlook 2010 until the PST file is compacted, either by Outlook (automatically) or by the user (manually). 

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