Recover Deleted Mailbox Item in Exchange 2016

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Sometimes users can delete important emails and ask for help to recover the deleted items. There are different ways to recover deleted mailbox items. Exchange mailbox database retains deleted mailbox items for 14 days by default. You can use this feature to recover deleted mailbox item. You can also restore mailbox database to restore mailbox item. In this post I will show steps to recover deleted mailbox item in Exchange 2016

Recover Deleted Mailbox Item in Exchange 2016

Exchange server provides ability to specify the amount of time the mailbox database can retain mailbox items deleted by users. This feature allows end users to recover deleted items by themselves or by administrators. By default, the deleted items are retained for 14 days. You can view the default setting or edit it by going to properties of mailbox database. Log on to Exchange Admin Center (EAC), click servers in the features pane. Select a particular database tab. Select the database and click pencil icon or double-click database name to edit settings of  the database.

Recover Deleted Mailbox Item in Exchange 2016

Select limits option. Under keep deleted items for (days) option, you can specify the deleted item retention period. As you can see above, by default it is 14 days. You can also use following cmdlet to configure deleted item retention as shown below,

[PS] C:\Windows\system32>Set-MailboxDatabase -Identity DB-01 -DeletedItemRetention 30

In addition, you can also setup recoverable item quotas and recoverable warning quota as shown below,

[PS] C:\Windows\system32>Set-MailboxDatabase -Identity DB-01 -RecoverableItemsWarningQuota 10GB -RecoverableItemsQuota 12GB

You can also configure deleted item retention period by going to properties of mailbox. Log on to Exchange Admin Center (EAC). Click recipients in the features pane. Select mailboxes tab. Open properties of a particular mailbox.

Recover Deleted Mailbox Item in Exchange 2016

Go to mailbox usage. By default, Use the default retention settings from the mailbox database option is chosen. Choose Customize the retention settings for this mailbox option to configure new retention period. Check option, Don’t permanently delete items until the database is backed up is good. This option will prevent deletion of messages before completing backup of mailbox database. You can use following cmdlet to configure per mailbox retention setting,

[PS] C:\Windows\system32>Set-Mailbox -Identity "Bipin Giri" -RetainDeletedItemsFor 45 -UseDatabaseRetentionDefaults $false

Use following cmdlet to configure per mailbox item and warning quota.

[PS] C:\Windows\system32>Set-Mailbox -Identity "Bipin Giri" -RecoverableItemsWarningQuota 12GB -RecoverableItemsQuota 15GB -UseDatabaseQuotaDefaults $false
[PS] C:\Windows\system32>Get-Mailbox -Identity "Bipin Giri" | fl *recoverable*,RetainDeletedItemsFor

RecoverableItemsQuota        : 15 GB (16,106,127,360 bytes)
RecoverableItemsWarningQuota : 12 GB (12,884,901,888 bytes)
RetainDeletedItemsFor        : 45.00:00:00

When users delete a email, the email goes to deleted folder of the user mailbox. This is called Delete operation. If the user deletes email from the deleted folder too (called Soft Delete operation), the email does not appear to user any more but it will be stored in Deletions/Recoverable Items folder. Deletions/Recoverable Items folder is like a recycle bin of mailbox database. The deleted items goes into the recycle bin. The user can recover the item themselves or by administrators.

deleted items

In Outlook application, right-click Deleted Items folder and click Recover Deleted Items option.

recover deleted item

You can see list of deleted items. Select the item to recover and choose Restore Selected Items option. Click OK. This operation will restore the deleted item in the deleted folder. If you choose Purge Selected Items (Hard Delete) option, the item will be deleted permanently from the mailbox database. This can be a problem because most of the time users don’t read the warning message and just hit the delete button and delete the email permanently. Similarly, users can intentionally try to delete all emails from their mailbox and even from recover deleted folder. To avoid recovery from database backups, you can use feature called Single Item Recover. When you enable single item recovery in a mailbox, the deleted items are retained as per configured deleted item retention period even when the item is deleted from recover deleted folder. To enable Single Item Recovery option type following cmdlet in EMS in Exchange Server,

[PS] C:\Windows\system32>Set-Mailbox bgiri -SingleItemRecoveryEnabled $True
WARNING: The single item recovery setting may take up to 60 minutes to take effect.

Single Item Recovery feature allows you to avoid going through database recovery to recover a deleted item. In this way you can recover deleted mailbox item in Exchange 2016. You can also export mailbox into PST and in-place eDiscovery to recover deleted mailbox items.

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Bipin is a freelance Network and System Engineer with expertise on Cisco, Juniper, Microsoft, VMware, and other technologies. You can hire him on UpWork . Follow Bipin Giri on Google+. Bipin enjoys writing articles and tutorials related to Network technologies. Some of his certifications are, MCSE:Messaging, JNCIP-SEC, JNCIS-ENT, and others.