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Recover hard-deleted emails in Exchange Server 2003 that are over 9 months old

Posted on 2010-03-30
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We have Exchange Server 2003.  One of our users needs to retrieve an email from Exchange that is over 9 months old, which appears to be hard-deleted.  Many forums and web sites have the answer in the form of utilizing the PST repair utility on Exchange Server 2003, but they all pertain to files that are only 30-days old.

What is the best and most effective way to recover these emails from Exchange Server 2003, being that they are hard-deleted and over 9 months old?
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Question by:geteke
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MegaNuk3 earned 1200 total points
ID: 29118897
When was it deleted? If it was deleted less than 30 days ago you should be able to recover it.

Basically Exchange will keep hard deleted items for 30 days by default before they get purged. It is nothing to do with the e-mail age i.e. how old that mail item is

Put this reg key in, restart Outlook and you should be able to recover the item:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Exchange\Client\Options

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by:Hypercat (Deb)
ID: 29120175
The only way I can think of to recover something that old would be from an Exchange database backup. Do you have a backup of the Exchange database from that time frame?
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by:geteke
ID: 29122933
We do not have a good backup from that timeframe.  We believe that the emails were hard-deleted about 9 months ago.
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by:MegaNuk3
ID: 29123865
And it's taken them 9 months to realise they need those emails?
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by:Hypercat (Deb)
Hypercat (Deb) earned 400 total points
ID: 29124224
In the absence of a good backup or the use of Outlook or Exchange archiving or some 3rd party archiving software that stores every email that passes through your system, there is no way to recover something that was hard deleted that long ago.
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by:chcw
chcw earned 400 total points
ID: 29145479
Do you have any offline storage files(.OST) for that account. If you can find an OST file, either it is a current one or an old backup, then that will be OK, just use Advanced Exchange Recovery at http://www.datanumen.com/aexr/ to convert it into a .PST file and check if the emails you want can be recovered.

If you
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by:ashishkpandey
ID: 29171005
its not possible. It is only possible if you have back up of that date. new back ups will not help. thats it.
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by:MegaNuk3
ID: 29181596
Do you have any backups from when the mail item might of been received instead of looking at the time it was deleted?
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Author Comment

by:geteke
ID: 29210027
chcw: Thank you, we will give that a try.

MegaNuk3: Negative, we do not have any good backups from that timeframe.

I was hoping that Exchange would keep the deleted items in a hidden file somewhere for forensic purposes and obviously once it reached a certain size it would start deleting the oldest stuff first and so on. I know the routine, we should have good reliable backups. Well maybe now, we'll have a better budget for addressing issues like this.
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by:MegaNuk3
ID: 29212765
Yep, better backups and/or archiving  solution to keep the important mails available if the user deletes them (message journaling).
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