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Emergency help needed for email recovery

Posted on 2004-10-20
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Hi,
   My wife came home from work tonight, setup her laptop, checked her email, and went to walk the dog.  When she returned, the cat had walked across the keyboard.  As far as we can tell, he deleted everything in the Inbox then closed Outlook and answered "yes" to the "do you want to permanently delete everything in the deleted items folder" question.  That is the effect, anyway.  Outlook was closed.  When she re-opened Outlook, the Inbox was empty and so was deleted items.  We have looked and cannot find the missing emails.  Like most people, she tended to keep things in the Inbox until they were resolved, and then forget to remove them.
   Our last backup of her pst file is about a month old, and she's been working on some important contracts, so recovering from backup isn't the best answer.
   Is there any way to recover the lost emails?  We have not shutdown Outlook or anything.  We are simply holding our breath in case someone knows what to do.
   The OS is Windows XP Pro and Outlook is 2002, SP3.
   Thank you,

--Brian
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Question by:BrianGodfrey
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KerryG earned 500 total points
ID: 12366524
If they are removed from the PST then you are going to be in for an unpleasent evening. While I can't offer you any help on this, I cannot stress the importance of backing up your mail every day. You should install PFBackup (free from Microsoft)
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=8b081f3a-b7d0-4b16-b8af-5a6322f4fd01&displaylang=en

You can configure it to ask you to backup your mail every x number of days (I suggest 1). Then when you quit Outlook it will prompt you to do the backup which only takes one mouse click.

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by:BrianGodfrey
ID: 12366564
Thanks.  I was afraid of that.  So how is it possible that one cat walking across the keyboard can hit all of the right keystrokes to do that?  It's even weirder: he didn't just delete all of the messages in the inbox, he deleted everything before 7PM.  And the two messages that he left didn't come in after he did the deed, they were already there and did not get deleted.  That would take a lot of keystrokes to do and I know he didn't use the mouse, too.  (He just uses that for a pillow when he sleeps.)

The future is not looking good for this cat.

Meanwhile, thank you for the info on the backup utility.  I'll be installing it soon.  That should help for the next time...

--Brian
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by:KerryG
ID: 12366598
ctrl-a to select everything and then shift-delete to permantently delete them. Yes, it is quite the stretch to think it would happen, but coming from someone with two cats and a small dog, I have seen some amazing things happen from cat paws on the keyboard.
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by:BrianGodfrey
ID: 12366628
Well, the cat is smart.  He can sit, shake, high-five, turn-around, lay down, and go where I tell him to.  I'm not surprised that he would know some keyboard shortcuts that we don't.  He doesn't dare walk on my desk, but my wife spoils him.  Now she's paying the price - and she's really taking it pretty well.  I think we'll survive it.

Thanks for the help.

--Brian
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