How To Restore Deleted Files from Microsoft Outlook Express

Outlook Express is an email and RSS client bundled with Windows. While Outlook Express is usually associated with Microsoft Office Outlook, the two pieces of software are distinct and different. Outlook Express lets you store contact information via the Windows address book. Outlook Express uses specific types of file extensions for storing data, but all emails from a given mailbox have their own file extensions and are kept in one file.

Data loss often occurs due to a computer security breach, such as when your system is affected by malware. However, in some cases, loss of data can come from something as simple as accidental deletion. Since Outlook Express stores files in special folders in your computer, though, all you need to do to retrieve deleted files is to look for the original location of the files, and check whether these can still be undeleted from the Recycle Bin.

  • Access your Outlook Express options. To recover deleted files in Microsoft Outlook Express, you will need to retrieve information regarding your Outlook Express email files. Open Outlook Express, and then click on the Tools menu (or press alt-T). Open the Options submenu, and then open the Maintenance option.

    Then, select “Store Folder.” This option lets you change or define the folder where your emails are stored. For purposes of recovery, you will need to note down the folder name so you can easily hunt down lost or deleted files for recovery.

  • Start the recovery process. Before proceeding, exit Outlook Express, so that the program will not conflict with any activity you are doing. Then, access your Desktop, and open Recycle Bin. Find the options at the sidebar, and select “Restore Most Recent Sent Items.” Then, you can close Recycle Bin.

    This restores backup files or .BAK files that applications automatically create as backups. However, you will still need to revert to these backup files in order to bring back deleted emails.

  • Rename your .bak files. Look for the folder where your emails are located in Windows Explorer. Recall that you have taken note of this in the first step. You will need to enable viewing of hidden files. Click the Tools menu, then Folder Options, and then select the View tab. Be sure to check viewing of hidden and system files, and also the checkbox for file extensions.

    You will now see the files corresponding to your emails. Rename the Inbox.dbx file into Inbox-old.dbx (or any filename of your choice). Then rename the Inbox.bak file into Inbox.dbx. This action reverts your inbox to the previous backed-up state. Now, you can already open Outlook Express to check if the deleted messages have been restored.

  • Preventive measures. To avoid data loss from accidental deletion, virus or system formatting, keep your inbox manageable by distributing your email to different folders. You may also delete emails that are dispensable or nonessential to you. When the compact process is in progress, ensure that you do not use your computer to avoid unnecessary data loss. Otherwise it will bring high security risk especially with loss of pertinent data or if it has become irrecoverable.

Human error is a common factor that often results in accidental deletion of data. Sometimes, though, the problem can be from the system itself—from a corrupt hard drive, hacking, or unstable systems. Whatever the case, make sure you know how to backup data and restore these when necessary. This knowledge can be useful when you have important information that you need to protect.


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