On Deleted Items and Mailbox Access

Just recently I had occasion to recover a series of deleted items for a customer who was struggling to understand the idea behind Recoverable Items.

Exchange has a two-stage recovery system, and has done for the past 20 years. The most visible representation of this is the user’s Deleted Items folder within their mailbox. When a user purges or empties that Deleted Items folder, the contents are moved to what was called the Dumpster but is now identified as the Recoverable Items folder.

The timescales for each of these is configurable; anywhere from 1 to 30 days with a 14 day default. So under normal operation, a user deletes an item and it is stored in the Deleted Items folder. Fourteen days later, Exchange moves that item to Recoverable Items. Fourteen days after that, the item is deleted permanently unless it is subject to an In-Place Hold or Retention Policy.

So how do you recover these items? Well, the Deleted Items is simple enough; you just select the item and drag it to where you wish to keep it. For Recoverable Items, you need to use the Recover Deleted Items button on the Folders taskbar or you can ask your friendly admin to do it for you.

For admins to be asked to do this, usually requires them to grant themselves access to the mailbox, log into the mailbox, run the same tool to restore the item then remember to remove their previously granted access.

In Exchange Online, there are now two new cmdlets that can be used with Remote PowerShell: Get-RecoverableItems and Restore-RecoverableItems. Both require the admins to have the “Mailbox Import-Export” role but with a few keystrokes, they can search for an item and recover it to its original location.

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