Recover Deleted Items in Exchange 2003

I want to explain the Recover deleted Items option in User’s mailbox.

Now let us start by assuming that the exchange administrator enabled the mailbox store retention item option .


The exchange is a clever dude …when the user deleted any item from his Inbox folder ,calendar folder ,sent items folders, (we will call those folders as the mail private folders) ,then the item is moved to the Deleted Items folder .

If the user deleted any item from the (Deleted Items) folder ,the exchange will HIDE this item from the user ,and will retain the item for the retention period configured on the mailbox store ( 7 days by default).

The user then can go to DELETED ITEMS folder >>click Tools >>Recover deleted Items ,and the user ends up happy !!!

The funny thing is that the (Recover Deleted Items) option is not available (Presented) to the user except for the Deleted Items folder (i.e. : if you click Inbox folder and go to Tools ,the Recover deleted items will be shaded ) !!

It is important to mention here is that Exchange will retain any deleted item whether it is deleted from the Deleted Items or from any of the user’s private folders ( i.e : Inbox folder).

You can make the (Recover Deleted Items) for all the user’s private folders available by applying a simple registry key named (Dumpster alwayson)

Why this is important ? Well ,If the user is smart ,and he performed SHIFT DELETE for an item in his inbox ,the following will happen :

  • The item will not go to the Deleted Items folder .
  • The exchange of course will retain the item for 7 days by default and will mark this item as Hidden.
  • The user goes to Inbox >>Tools>> and will see that the Recover Deleted Items option  is grayed.

So the deleted items from the inbox exist on the exchange store ,but marked as Hidden. After applying the registry tweak ,the Recovery Deleted Item is presentable (made available ) to the user for any of his private folders.


Additional Info :

Two types of deletes:

1.Soft delete :

This is when you simply click DELETE to an item in any of your mail private folders. This will move the item to the DELETED ITEMS .When you delete or purge your Deleted Items ,the exchange will not actually (physically ) delete the item ,instead ,it ill hide it from the user !!!

2.Hard Delete :

This is when you :

    • Press SHIFT DELETE to any item ( this will physically delete the item without moving it to the delete items folder.
    • Move an item to PST.
    • Working offline mode ,deleting item ,going to Deleted Items folder , deleting the item from there.
    • Using POP3 and not checking (leave copy on the server)
    • Some IMAP scenarios


The COOL THING HERE …is that EXCHANGE DOES NOT CARE FROM WHERE YOU DELETED THE will always retain the item and hide it from you whether you performed Soft delete or hard delete…

The issue is that simply the “Recover deleted items ” option is only presentable by outlook for the Deleted Items folder.

So the nice news is that applying this registry setting on the client machine ,will present to the user Recover Deleted Items from any of his private folders.

If you select your Inbox for example in Outlook, then go to Tools, you will notice that “Recover Deleted Items” option is grayed out….  Outlook doesn’t allow you by default to look at the dumpster attached to any folder different from the Deleted Items folder.  As the Exchange Server doesn’t really care from which folder you deleted anything, he’ll simply keep for as long as you specify on the properties of your store.

To enable the “Recover Deleted Items” on all your folders, you just need to close Outlook, open the registry and add one DWORD Value:



DWORD Value= DumpsterAlwaysOn

Value = 1

You have to restart outlook after this!!

You can apply this registry to all clients , or to the administrator machine and then open the affected user’s mailbox from the admin machine.


NOTE: If you are using Microsoft Outlook 2007, this feature should already be enabled

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