Exchange/OWA tip o’ the day

Exchange has a feature called ‘deleted item recovery’, usually referred to as the
dumpster. When it is enabled, when you empty your deleted items folder, items are
placed in the dumpster for a server-configured number of days. The client can choose
to retrieve the items from the dumpster until that number of days is up.

Each folder essentially has its own dumpster, and generally the dumpster for the deleted
items folder is the most commonly used one (since most users tend to delete items
from other folders and then empty the deleted items folder).

It is possible, however, to delete an item and have it remain in that folder’s dumpster,
by shift+deleting the item. In that case, the item would remain in the dumpster for
that folder.

By default, Outlook only allows you to access the “Recover Deleted Items” menu option
if the deleted items folder is selected. By following the steps in KB article #178630,
you can make this menu available in any folder.

Another way of getting access to these items is to use OWA (requires Exchange 2000
SP1 and later). Open the target folder with a URL like this:


From this interface, you can then retrieve the items (they will be moved back to the
folder from which they were deleted) or delete them from the dumpster.

This was the first feature I ever designed when I worked on Outlook Web Access, so
if you hate it, it’s completely my fault. 🙂

Comments (13)

  1. Andy says:

    I never knew there were different dumpsters, but then again I’ve never heard it referred to as a dumpster either. I always thought shift delete permanently deleted stuff bypassing the recyclebin, at least thats how it works with the rest of the microsoft os! Thanks for the tip

  2. KC Lemson says:

    You’re right, it is weird that it’s different from the OS. Glad you enjoyed the tip.

  3. Ross Cruickshank says:

    Is this the cool feature that means selecting items for deletion over dial-up drags the contents over the wire before they’re deleted ?
    If so – it’s the dumbest function yet (delete is recoverable – shift+delete means kill).
    If not this feature, what is it that fetch items when selected? when I want to delete based on subject/sender, I don’t care about the contents; this behaviour makes dial access to remote exchange painful

  4. KC Lemson says:

    Ross, have you taken a look at cached mode in Outlook 2003 yet? There are a bunch of reasons why using Outlook in traditional online mode over a dialup can be painful, and one of the main focuses of the Outlook 2003 release was to address those problems with cached mode. You can get a trial version here to see for yourself if it helps:

  5. Kevin says:

    I have setup the deletion settings on my Exchange 2000 server, then I empty my deleted items and go to recover deleted items and it is blank. I did the same thing on another exchange 2000 server and it work fine..

  6. Ross Cruickshank says:

    KC – thanks for the advice. When I can get the other 3500 users in the company onto Outlook/Exchange 2003, I’ll be delighted, but for the moment I’m stuck with Outlook 2002.

    I take it the fetch-before-delete is working as designed ?

  7. Ron says:

    How do you turn this feature off on the user end? We are using this for recovery of messages and don’t want the users to be albe to delete their deleted items.


  8. Patrick Weichmann says:

    It’s nice to have this feature but I am about to open a call. via OWA everything works, all messages get restored, via Outlook 2003 in Cached Mode, the messages end nowhere.

    Do you know if that is by design?

  9. Nicky says:

    I have the problem with outlook 2003 and the cached mode with recover deleted items, you can recover them, but they don’t get syncronised to the deleted items folder. When you turn of cached mode, they all appear.

  10. KC Lemson says:

    Did you try shift+f9 to make the deleted items folder synch at that time? The recovery happens on the server and it will take a while to get to the client. Also, if they still never synch, are you using group policy at all?

  11. Ed Radocha says:

    In helping a co-worker, when I they go into recover deleted items, select the email they wish to retrieve, and click on recover, nothing happens. No error message, nothing.

    Any Ideas

  12. Marshall says:

    Very cool. Is there any Microsoft documentation on other OWA query strings. Also is there a method to recover deleted items to a different folder or even to a PST file?

  13. William Gardner says:

    Great tip! Thanks!

    Do you happen to know where those Deleted Items are hidden in the store? For instance when you move a mailbox from 2003 server to 2003 server those Recoverable Deleted items do not transfer!

    And going through Backup Exec 9.1 mailbox restore does not show anything more then what is in the Deleted Items folder… : (