Email Recovery – Get Back Deleted Emails

Email is probably the most widely used internet service. It is so simple to send an email message, receiving is also not a problem and it is free! This is also the reason there is so much spam around. Fortunately, most modern email clients have powerful spam filters. This applies in particular to Gmail—it will eliminate almost all unwanted messages.

On windows systems there are two popular and widely used email clients: Outlook and Outlook Express. Outlook Express is a free version that is shipped with Windows. It includes everything you need to do with emails and supports also multiple email accounts. Outlook is part of the MS Office suite and is a complete email client/scheduler. Both store emails in special database files. Outlook Express uses DBX database files while Outlook uses PST files.

It is very common to save some emails. There are attachments we will need, sometimes we save emails because of contacts, or because we will reply later. With each email we save into some folder the database file grows. In general, this is not a problem, but after the file reaches some limit the operations will be slower and the risk of database corruption increases. You don't have to do anything special to make saved emails inaccessible. It can happen because of bug in an application, some service interfered with email client or the email client was interrupted while updating the database. Sometimes this happens when you try to compact database file. You may also delete some email because you don't need it anymore and later you change your mind. The email is probably still in the database but how to get it back?

The solution is email recovery software. With such software you will be able to repair corrupt email databases and recover individual emails. Most focus only on Outlook Express and Outlook, but there are tools also for other email systems.

Outlook and PST recovery

Outlook opens PST file and if the header or internal file structure is not as expected it doesn't show any emails. Email recovery software opens the same file but instead of expecting perfect data structure it tries to locate individual email messages. If the database is corrupted all the emails will not be recovered-- this is consequence of the damaged database file. The same applies to Outlook Express and DBX recovery.

Email Recovery Software

All email recovery tools will offer at least the following functionality:

  • Email database repair: PST, DBX, or some other database format
  • Extraction of emails from corrupted mail database
  • Recovery of deleted emails including attachments

After you recover lost emails and repair the database you will be able to import emails back into system. Of course, this procedure assumes that there was only problem in the email database. If there was a system failure or hard drive crash involved you need first to recover disk, file system and individual files. Only when the system is working you can proceed to email recovery.


In order to prevent using email recovery tools you should make regular backups of all email messages. This is very simple—all you have to do is to copy DBX or PST files to a safe place. If you are not using Outlook or Outlook Express you can use similar procedures, only the database files are different.

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