Enhanced Deleted Item Recovery In MS Exchange 5.5


As an Exchange Admin, your users will often ask you if there is any way to recover a message that has been inadvertently deleted from their mailbox. Fortunately, Exchange 5.5 has a feature that allows you to do just this, although the standard configuration can be improved by a small amount of tweaking.

This feature is known as Deleted Item Recovery, or DIR for short. You enable it using the MS Exchange 5.5 Admin program. Out if the box, DIR allows you to recover messages that have been deleted from the Deleted Items folder, i.e. messages that have been deleted normally, and have then been purged from the Deleted Items folder when it has been emptied. It also allows you to recover deleted items from Public Folders. What it does not normally do is allow you to recover messages that have not spent any time in Deleted Items, i.e. those messages that have been Shift-Deleted from another folder such as Inbox.


The first thing you need to do if you want to use Deleted Item Recovery is to make sure that it is enabled for your Information Store. There are two places that DIR can be enabled; The Private Information Store (i.e. Mailboxes), and the Public Information Store (Public Folders).  Start the Exchange Admin program and expand the left-hand pane until you can see the server for which you want to enable DIR.

Fig. 1 – The Server Container in Admin.exe.

Highlight the Private Information Store in the Right-hand pane, and click the Properties button to reveal the property pages as shown in figure 2:

Fig. 2 – The properties of the Private Information Store.

If you want to use DIR, you need to make sure that there is a non-zero value in the field named Deleted item retention time [days]: . Enter the number of days that you wish deleted items to be retained on the server. If you also want DIR enabled on your Public Information store, you’ll need to check the properties of that, too, as shown in figure 3:

Fig. 3 – The properties of the Public Information Store.

Now, when your users start Outlook, the Recover Deleted Items option will be enabled in the Tools menu if either the Deleted Items folder, or a Public Folder has been selected.

Fig. 4 – The Recover Deleted Items menu option in Outlook.

Unfortunately, having this option enabled for only the Deleted Items mailbox folder does not help the user who has learned that Shift-deletion is just as quick at deleting wanted messages as it is at deleting unwanted ones. To enable DIR for all mailbox folders you need to add a DWORD registry value named DumpsterAlwaysOn with a value of 1 to the registry key named HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Exchange\Client\Options . If you think it would be easier, you could create a .REG file using Notepad as shown in figure 5. That way, you can more easily make the modification to several machines by double-clicking the file and merging it into the registry. In this example, the file is called Dumpster.reg.

Fig. 5 – Creating a .REG file in Notepad.

When you have made the registry change, you need to close Outlook if it is already running, and the next time you start it, you will find the Recover Deleted Items menu option available for all mailbox folders.


When you enable DIR on your Information Store, you will not be able to recover items that were deleted before it was enabled. If you make the registry modification to the client machines you will be able to recover items that were Shift-deleted from other folders before you made the change.

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