There may be times when you need to recover deleted emails, either because you deleted them by mistake or because you never expected to need them back.
But now you may be wondering, “Are deleted Gmail emails recoverable?”
The answer really “depends” on whether you’re using a consumer Gmail (@gmail.com) account or a Google Workspace account, whether you’re a regular user or a Google Workspace Admin, which Google Workspace plan you’ve subscribed to………..
Let’s take a closer look at each of these scenarios and how they affect our ability to recover deleted Gmail emails.
Recover deleted Gmail emails as a User
How to Recover Deleted Emails in Gmail as a Standard Gmail User:
When you delete Gmail emails, they are automatically routed to your Gmail Trash Bin and remain there for 30 days, so if you are still within that time frame, you can restore them as shown below.
It is not possible to recover deleted Gmail emails if they were permanently deleted more than 30 days ago if you are using a personal / consumer Gmail account.
Gmail emails that have been permanently deleted are those that have been manually deleted from the Gmail Trash Bin or that have been deleted by Google after 30 days.
To recover deleted gmail emails within the last 30 days, navigate to the Trash Bin in your Gmail account, as shown below, and select either the required emails or all emails that you want to recover.
By default, emails visible on the first page are selected; however, if you want to restore all deleted Gmails, select all conversations.
- Click the move to icon.
- Click on Inbox.
Gmail will ask you to confirm the bulk action. Click OK, and your emails will be restored from the Trash Bin to your Gmail Inbox.
Recover deleted Gmail emails as Google Workspace Admin
If you use Google Workspace, you have more options and flexibility when it comes to restoring Gmail emails that have been permanently deleted by your users.
Option 1: Recover Emails from the Google Workspace Admin Console
All Google Workspace plans include this feature.
Within 25 days of a user’s permanent deletion, you can restore permanently deleted Gmail emails to them directly from the Google Workspace Admin Console.
- To use this feature, go to your Google Workspace Admin Console and search for the user in question.
- Navigate to the user’s profile page.
- Click the “More” button.
- As shown in the screenshot below, click “Restore Data.”
- Enter the time frame for which you want to recover deleted Gmail emails (within 25 days range).
- Choose Gmail from the Application dropdown menu.
- Select Restore.
Option 2 – Recover Deleted Emails from the Security Investigation Tool
Only available in the Google Workspace Enterprise plan.
Google Workspace Enterprise plan includes a “Security Investigation Tool” that allows you to conduct investigations and then take the appropriate action/s.
Assuming you have the Google Workspace Enterprise plan, let us investigate the emails that our user permanently deleted and then restore them to the user’s mailbox.
Notes : The security investigation tool allows you to restore permanently deleted emails within 30 days of their deletion. You should also have the necessary privileges to use the security investigation tool.
To begin the investigation, log in to your Google Workspace Admin Console and then select the Investigation tool from the Security settings menu.
Details of the investigation:
- Choose “Gmail messages” as the Source.
- For the conditions, use AND.
- Choose your date range for restoring emails.
- Choose your recipient.
- Choose the “Deleted” label (e.g., deleted here = emails that have been permanently deleted).
- Click the Search button.
You should now see all of the emails permanently deleted by this user between the dates you specified.
- Select either required or all the emails that you want to restore.
- Click on Actions menu as shown in the screenshot below.
Click on “Restore Messages”.
It will request confirmation that you want to restore X messages to this user.
Your email restoration process should now begin (along with an option to Abort the action if required).
The security investigation tool now displays the action results, and if everything goes well, you should see “message/s was successfully restored.”
Because these emails were previously deleted, they will be restored to the user’s Trash Bin rather than the Inbox.
- Are you wondering why we didn’t just restore to the user’s inbox? That’s because it’s not possible; if you try to put them directly into Inbox, you’ll get an error.
- As we restored emails to the user’s Gmail Trash Bin, we can either ask the user to restore them from their Bin OR run another investigation (this time on the Trash Bin) and then send them to the user’s inbox.
To restore emails from the user’s Gmail Trash Bin to the Inbox, let us run another investigation where everything is the same except for the Label Name.
This time, the label name should be “Bin,” and our action should be “Send to Inbox,” as illustrated in the screenshot below.
Confirm that you want to move these emails in bulk by clicking on “SEND TO INBOX”
Send to Inbox process should now be started.
Congratulations, your user’s emails should now be available in his/her Gmail inbox.
Option 3 – Restore Deleted Emails via Google Vault.
Available in Google Workspace Business and Enterprise Plans (and as add-on in Google Workspace basic plan).
Google Vault is an archiving and retention application that allows you to keep your Google Workspace data according to the retention rules you set.
More information is available in my book “THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO GOOGLE VAULT.”
Assuming you already have a retention policy in place to keep your data safe (keep in mind that Vault works retrospectively after you set it up or create/change your retention policy, but only for data that hasn’t been permanently deleted at the time).
Log in to ediscovery.google.com, create a matter, and then run your search to find the deleted emails you want to recover.
In the following example, I’m attempting to recover emails for a specific user that were permanently deleted (denoted by the labeldeleted) between 01-May-2020 and 11-May-2020.
After you’ve entered your search criteria, click Search.
Now you should see the permanently deleted emails based on your Google Vault search criteria.
Click on “Export results” to export this data.
Google Vault should now begin exporting your data, and it may take sometime depending on the size of the data.
- Give your export a unique name.
- Choose a data region (e.g., none, United States, Europe) where your export result will be saved and accessible for 15 days.
- Choose the format (e.g., Mbox or PST for emails; I prefer PST because it is easier to import than Mbox).
- Click on Start Export.
- Your Mbox file would be in .zip format, click on download to save it to your local machine.
- Note -: Depending on the size of your data, you might have multiple .zip files, as each file can be max 1 GB for PST.
You can now extract the pst file from your downloaded file by unzipping it.
You can then migrate this PST file to your user’s mailbox using Google Workspace Migration for Microsoft Exchange.