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Restoring mails to the web mail server

I’ve configured my account in Outlook, and now all my emails have been removed from my web mailbox.

How do I restore them back on the server?

This can happen in 2 scenarios;

  1. You have configured your account as a POP3 account.
  2. You have set the default delivery location of an Exchange account to a pst-file.

You have configured your account as a POP3 account

By default, a POP3 account is configured to remove the messages from the server after downloading (in Outlook 2010 this has been changed to after 14 days). This is in order to free up space in the on-line mailbox since POP3 is download only and the storage capacities of Outlook are usually a multitude larger than that of the on-line mailbox.

If you do not like this behavior, then you can set your account settings to leave a copy on the server.

If you want to restore the messages back to the server, you’ll have to to ask your ISP if they support making an IMAP connection. Since IMAP is a 2-way sync protocol, by moving the messages to the Inbox in the IMAP account, the messages will be uploaded back to the server again.

If your ISP does not support this, then not all is lost. Quite a few ISPs also offer their web based mailboxes to collect messages from other accounts via POP3. So, if you can upload your messages back to another mail service (for instance Live Hotmail via the Outlook Connector or to a Gmail account) then you can configure your web based account to download from these mail services again via their POP3 access. This might sound like a long way around but it is effective nevertheless.

If both IMAP and mail collecting from another account is not supported by your ISP, then asking them for a restore or forwarding all emails to yourself might be the only way to get them back in the on-line mailbox again.

You have set the default delivery location of an Exchange account to a pst-file

When you’ve configured an Exchange account and have set your default delivery location set to a pst-file, then all the emails from the Inbox of the Exchange account will be downloaded into the Inbox of your pst-file. This usually happens when you have configured Outlook with a POP3 account first and then later add an Exchange account.

In order to restore your messages back to the server, you must set your Exchange account as the default delivery location in Outlook. After this, simply move back the emails into the Inbox of the Exchange mailbox and the messages will be uploaded to the server again. This will probably also result in your POP3 messages now being downloaded into your Exchange mailbox instead of your pst-file. Depending on you version of Outlook, there are several methods to deal with this.

To verify/change your default delivery location;

  • Outlook 2003
    Tools-> Account Settings…-> button Next-> use the drop down list at the bottom to set your default delivery location
  • Outlook 2007
    File-> Data File Management…-> select the Exchange mailbox-> button Set As Default
  • Outlook 2010
    File-> section Info-> button Accounts Settings-> Account Settings…-> tab Data Files-> select the Exchange mailbox-> button Set As Default
    Additionally, on the E-mail tab, select the Exchange account and verify that your delivery location is set to the correct mailbox.


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