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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Recovering Exchange Items that have been 'Shift-Deleted' in Outlook

For those of you who work in IT and manage an exchange server, at some point you've probably all faced the situation where a user came to you asking to recover an item that was lost, after said user emptied their "deleted items" folder. Most of the time the solution to their problem is an easy one.

  • Select the "Deleted Items" Folder
  • Select Tools -> Recover Deleted Items
  • Select the items you want to recover and click on the small envelope with an arrow

VoilĂ , the items that were selected are now supposed to be back in your Outlook trash can.

The only problem with this extremely useful feature is that if a user deletes items using [SHIFT] + [DELETE], the items will get permanently nuked and the recovery utility will not be able to restore them back to their previous location.

Fortunately, there's a quick registry tweak that will fix this problem:

(Warning: Serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly by using Registry Editor or by using another method. These problems might require that you reinstall your operating system. Microsoft or I cannot guarantee that these problems can be solved. Modify the registry at your own risk.)

  • Close Outlook
  • Click on start -> Run type "regedit" in the "run" field and press ok
  • Browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ Exchange \ Client \ Options
  • Right-click the "Options" Key, select "New"->"DWORD Value" and name it "DumpsterAlwaysOn"
  • Double click that new value in the right section of the registry editor and assign it with a decimal value of 1
  • Quit Regedit

Now that you have done the proper modification to the registry, start outlook again, select the folder where the desired item was hard deleted, head over to the tools menu and click "Recover Deleted Items". You should now see all the mails that were hard deleted in the previously selected folder. An important thing to note though is that emails will remain in the recovery utility for as long as the exchange server was configured to retain deleted objects.

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