What to do if your deleted emails are coming back in Outlook 2016

Ivan Jenic
by Ivan Jenic
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Emails are wonderful as they enable us to discuss things in detail. While it’s true chatting platforms help us discuss things in real time, that however hasn’t diminished the popularity of emails by much. Unfortunately, not all emails that we receive are important and are best deleted off to help keep the inbox organised and clutter free.

So far, so good but unfortunately, things can often take unexpected turns, like the mails that you have deleted showing up again. In fact, this happens to be a persistent issue with Outlook 2016 though like with most other issues, there sure is a way out of this mess.

How do I get rid of deleted emails that are getting back again in inbox?

  1. Disable problematic add-ins
  2. Delete OST file and rebuild a new one
  3. Recreate OST file
  4. Empty the Recoverable Items Folder

Solution 1: Disable problematic add-ins

There might be some add-ins that could be clashing with the Outlook functions, leading to the unexpected issue. Disabling such add-ins can help sort things out here. Following are the steps.

  • Launch the Run dialog box. To do this, hold Windows key + R or alternately, you can just type Run in the Cortana search box and hit Enter.
  • In the Run dialog box, type Outlook /safe and press Enter.safe mode outlook mail
  • This will run Outlook in safe mode.

You will next be required to identify the trouble making add-in and disable the same.

  • To do that, click on File > Options > Add-ins
  • There you will find Manage Com-in Add. Click on the Go button beside it.
  • If there are any add-ins listed, clear the checkbox for one add-in and restart Outlook and check if the issue is still persisting. The idea here is to find the add-in that might be causing the error.
  • If yes, repeat the above step with another add-in until you have zeroed in on the target. If not, the wrong add-in has already been taken care of and you have your problem resolved.

— RELATED: These are the best Windows 10 email clients and apps to use

Solution 2: Delete OST file and rebuild a new one

Sometimes, there might be corruptions in the OST files which can be another reason for a host of issues with Outlook 2016, including deleted email getting back. Here are the steps:

  • Close Outlook if it is open.
  • Open Run windows by pressing Windows key + R or typing Run in the Cortana search box and pressing Enter.
  • In the Run dialog box, type the following and click on OK: %LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Outlook\delete ost data outlook
  • Select the .ost file and press Delete or right click on it and select Delete.

Solution 3: Recreate OST file

Once you have successfully deleted the OST file, the next step would be to recreate it. Here are the steps:

  • Click on File > Info
  • Click on Account Setting. Thereafter, double click on Microsoft Exchange.
  • There is the Setting pop-up that appears. Click on More Setting.
  • Click on Advance > Offline Folder File Setting.
  • Select a location where .ost file will be saved and click on OK.
  • There might be an error message shown. Click on OK. This will create a new ost file.
  • Click on OK > Finish.

— RELATED: 5 best anti-spam software for your Exchange email server

Solution 4: Empty the Recoverable Items Folder

Now the Recoverable Items Folder is very much an intentional design feature and is aimed to help deal with the situation when say, your mails have got deleted either accidentally or owing to any malicious attempt. Another reason the specific folder acts as a place holder of deleted mails is that it helps retrieve mails to facilitate matters of litigations or investigations.

Another point to keep in mind is that the Recoverable Items folder can be emptied only under the following scenario – if there isn’t an

  • In-Place Hold
  • Litigation Hold
  • Single item recovery applicable to the folder

If yes, the folder can be emptied using a few simple steps. Or else, it is recommended to keep the folder intact till the hold is in place.

For the previous case, that there is no In-Place Hold or Litigation Hold in place or there is no single item recovery applicable enabled, here is what you need to do to empty the Recoverable Items folder.

The process is actuated via the Windows PowerShell. So the first step is of course to open Windows PowerShell. Here are the steps: Right click on Start and select Windows PowerShell(Admin). Alternately, you can also type WindowsPowerShell in the Cortana search box. From the search result shown, right click on Windows PowerShell and select Run as Administrator.run powershell admin

Type the following command and press enter:

Search-Mailbox -Identity “xxxx yyyy” -SearchDumpsterOnly -TargetMailbox “Discovery Search Mailbox” -TargetFolder “xxxxyyyy-RecoverableItems” -DeleteContent

The above command will delete the mailbox but will copy the content to another mailbox. If that isn’t what you want, run the following command:

Search-Mailbox -Identity “Gurinder Singh” -SearchDumpsterOnly -DeleteContent

However, just in case you wish to delete content of the Recoverable Items folder even though it has been put on hold or has the single item recovery enabled, refer to the Microsoft doc here.

You are also recommended to go through this link to delete emails for once and for all.

Meanwhile, here are some more resources that might be of interest to you: