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UPDATE It turns out this was a false alarm on the part of an end user, but there are some helpful posts and suggestions if this actually occurred. UPDATE

Original Post Follows

I have a user that accesses their Exchange mailbox using OWA exclusively.

They claim that their Contacts have mysteriously been deleted. They say they had 50-60 Contacts.

When I go into their account, there are only 2 Contacts - they say they just added those.

No Contacts are showing up in the Deleted Items folder, nor in any other folder listed in OWA. There are no subfolders within the Contacts folder.

In OWA "Options"/"Deleted Items", there are no Contacts in the "Recover Deleted Items" list - only old emails and a few Calendar items.

If I create a new message and start typing a name in the "To:" box, several Contacts appear in a drop down list. I can also start typing names in the search box at the top of the OWA window and names appear. I don't know where these names are coming from. They are not in the Default Global Address List.

I also wonder if there's a way to check if Contacts have been deleted. The user thinks it started last Friday.

Thanks for any help, Dan

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2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Each folder maintains a list of items that were <SHIFT>-<DEL> deleted in that folder. OWA only shows you those items that were deleted when the "Deleted Items" folder was emptied.

If you're not finding the items using "Recover Deleted Items" from OWA you might try using Outlook to open the user's mailbox. The procedure varies per the version of Outlook, but, essentially, you're talking about setting the "DumpsterAlwaysOn" registry value (see http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=246153), opening up the user's mailbox in Outlook, and attempting to recover deleted items. (See http://hosting.intermedia.net/support/kb/default.asp?id=728 for some background on recovering deleted items in various Outlook versions.)

If you're not finding the items that way then you're going to be stuck restoring a backup into a recovery storage group and getting the items out that way. The procedure will vary depending on the backup software you're using, but you can get a bird's eye view of the procedure here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa997694(EXCHG.80).aspx

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I will definitely try installing Outlook and report back. I wonder if I have to use cached mode or not (generate an .ost file) or if that makes a difference... Thanks for the direction! –  HighTechGeek Oct 7 '10 at 6:18
    
@HighTechGeek: re: recovering deleted items cached Exchange mode won't make any difference. –  Evan Anderson Oct 7 '10 at 6:28
    
After I pulled a recovery from a month ago and the user had no Contacts back then either, the user finally admitted they must not have used Outlook Contacts and had been relying on the auto-complete. They had lost all of their AOL contacts due to a virus infection on their home PC (and other circumstances) and they swore their work Contacts disappeared too. I think they were hoping to copy the work Contacts to their AOL account in an effort to recover since AOL told them they couldn't recover them... thanks for your quick responses! –  HighTechGeek Oct 13 '10 at 21:06

If I create a new message and start typing a name in the "To:" box, several Contacts appear in a drop down list. I can also start typing names in the search box at the top of the OWA window and names appear. I don't know where these names are coming from. They are not in the Default Global Address List.

What you're seeing is the autocomplete feature of OWA. Autocomplete is essentially a cache of email addresses that the user has typed into the To: field at some point. The autocomplete entries are not directly related to the Contacts in the sense that the existence of an autocomplete entry doesn't confirm the existence of a Contact and the lack of an autocomplete entry doesn't confirm the non-existence of a Contact. The autocomplete cache may have entries that correspond to the contacts but that's pretty much where the relation ends.

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I know that in Outlook, the auto-complete is stored in the *.nk2 file on the local computer where Outlook is installed. Since OWA is not "installed", is there a file on the Exchange server that is similar? Note that I can log into this mailbox from a new PC using OWA and the autocomplete still works, so it's definitely not stored locally. Thanks! –  HighTechGeek Oct 7 '10 at 6:14
    
With Exchange 2007 the OWA autocomplete cache is stored in the users mailbox. –  joeqwerty Oct 7 '10 at 11:31
    
Is this Exchange 2007 autocomplete cache accessible? I know in Outlook 2010, they're stored in a folder called "Suggested Contacts". I don't see that folder in OWA, but if I installed Outlook 2010 and pulled down the mailbox, would it be created? Or is there another way to extract these address? The reason I ask is that I can rebuild the user's Contacts from this even though I know it's not the same list. It would be a starting point. –  HighTechGeek Oct 7 '10 at 15:29
    
It's not accessible via any conventional methods that I'm aware of. –  joeqwerty Oct 7 '10 at 22:46
    
Thanks for your quick responses! It turned out to be a false alarm (see above). –  HighTechGeek Oct 13 '10 at 21:09

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