How to Perform Single Item Recovery in Exchange Server

In this article, we are going to learn the concept of single item recovery and how to perform that method in Exchange system.


Single Item Recovery In Exchange ServerIt often happens that the user might unintentionally delete the emails from the mailbox and wanted that to be recovered. There are different kinds of deletion, each one has its own way of recovery. Some might be easy while some kind of deletion is hard to recover. Exchange Admins should go for the backup to recover it.  But that is a tedious process because we should create a Recovery database and restore the mailbox from the RDB, performing a Backup recovery for just 1 or 2 mails is really time consuming and will waste lots of resources. If the backup software is an Exchange aware backup and supported granular restore then well and good.

Types of Deletion & Recovery:

Deleted Emails In Exchange ServerThere are different types of deletion, either done by the user or done by Exchange systems. They are,

  1. Soft Delete – Actioned by User
  2. Store Soft Delete – Actioned by Exchange System
  3. Hard Delete – Actioned by User
  4. Store Hard Delete – Actioned by Exchange System

Soft Delete: When the user intentionally or accidentally deletes an email, it will be moved to the Deleted Items folder. Users still have access to that email and is entitled to restore the email from that folder to the original folder or any other folder. By Default these emails will reside in Delete Items folder for 30 days from the date of deletion. This retention period is default unless the Exchange Administrator has altered this retention period.

Store Soft Delete: After the 30th day retention period, the emails will be automatically moved to the Recovery Deleted Items folder (Dumpster) and this is called as Store Soft Delete. This Dumpster folder is invisible and the emails are not directly accessible. We have to restore the email to the original folder to access it again. The default retention period for Recoverable Deleted Items folder is 14days, yet administrator have the privilege to change this retention period.

Hard Delete: This type of deletion is done by the user, in most cases these are intentional deletions. When a user decides that a particular email is not needed any more, then he can opt to hard delete. Hard deletion is done by pressing the Shift key and deleting the emails. This way of deletion will skip the Deleted Item folder and emails will directly go to Recoverable Deleted Items. Still the email can be recovered within the retention period.

Store Hard Delete: This action is performed by the Exchange system. When emails in Dumpster reach the maximum retention period, they are marked for purging. Once the email is purged there is no way we can recover that email. The only option is to recover through the Database Backup.

Prerequisites Single Item Recovery:

To Perform Single Item Recovery, we need certain basic things. We should either have an Enterprise Client Access License (CAL) or Standard CAL License. If we have an enterprise CAL license, then we can perform Multi-Mailbox Search else with Standard CAL, we can search only a single mailbox at time.

Next SingleItemRecovery should be enabled for that mailbox. This can be done only through Powershell command.

Set-Mailbox -Identity “Mailbox_name” -SingleItemRecoveryEnabled $True

This command enables the SingleItemRecovery for a mailbox.

How to perform Single Item Recovery

Single Item recovery can be done using the below Powershell command.

Search-Mailbox “Mailbox_Name” -SearchQuery “from:’John Doe'” -TargetMailbox “Discovery Search Mailbox” -TargetFolder “Recovered” -LogLevel Full.

This command searches the Mailbox with the condition “John Doe” as the sender. Once the mails are found it is copied to Discovery Search Mailbox in a folder called “Recovered”.


By this method we can perform the recovery. There are other means of OST to PST recovery is also available

Author Introduction:

Sophia Mao is a data recovery expert in DataNumen, Inc., which is the world leader in data recovery technologies, including repair pst email damage and word recovery software products. For more information visit

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