A select group of emails has disappeared from my Outlook 365 environment, and I would like some ideas on (a) what happened and / or (b) how to get them back.

I have an Outlook 2010 user on our corporate Outlook 365 Server. The user forwarded a series of emails with the following characteristics:

  • all originals sent to the same recipient email address
  • all originals had the same subject line
  • all originals had attachments
  • all originals were composed using Outlook's "Resend this email ..." function, then the messages were edited for content and new files were attached
  • this was a roughly-monthly distribution over the course of 6 months

Each of these emails was forwarded individually a couple months ago. We now can find the forwarded emails, but cannot find the original emails either on the Server or on the Client side. Several items of note:

  • the Exchange 365 environment has retention policies in place that are sufficiently long so that the emails, even if deleted, should be recoverable.

  • the user accesses the system primarily from Outlook 2010 on a windows machine, but also accesses with an iPhone and iPad. It appears that all of the emails (originals and forwards) were sent from Outlook 2010 on the laptop.

  • a full search of the laptop, PST's, OWA, and server have surfaced nothing on the original emails.

Any ideas, suggestions, or avenues of exploration?

  • What does MS Support have to say about it? – EEAA Sep 21 '15 at 21:30
  • Retention policies do not keep emails, they time bomb them for deletion. Holds keep emails. I hope this is just a taxonomy issue and not that you're counting on that function to do something it doesn't. – blaughw Sep 22 '15 at 1:52

Users are still able to delete messages, and this is the most likely cause of the missing messages.

Retention Policies are used to "expire" items based on certain criteria, but they will not prevent objects from being deleted by a user.

In Office 365 if you need to prevent users from deleting messages you need place a hold on the mailboxes. You can define periods of time the holds are active, after which messages can be deleted, or leave it on indefinitely.

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