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HELP!!!  I deleted a POP email account w/4000+ messages in it and they disappeared

8903 Views 14 Replies Latest reply: Oct 24, 2013 6:04 AM by Lanny RSS Branched to a new discussion.
dhumble Calculating status...
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May 21, 2012 10:57 PM

I have been told all my messages are gone forever but I find that just hard to believe.  If this were a Windows machine I could recover them because it just deletes the first character in the name of the file.  Am I to believe that Apple doesn't have something even remotely similar?


I have been able to recover a few hundred from my iPhone which also had access to the POP account but many years of emails are just not there.


I thought for sure I could delete the account and recreate it as I was making it an IMAP account but I'm having no luck getting most of my life for the past 4 years back.  (And yes, I know, I should have backed up - but I hadn't in over a year.)  Lazy I know so please don't rub it in. 


I drove 100 miles to go to the Genius Bar at the Apple Store and that is how I learned to recover the ones on the phone but that was a painfully slow process of doing them pretty much one at a time because I'd select 50 or so and some would be able to be moved and some wouldn't - which was frustrating so I finally just went through and kept the ones that were most important. 


Anyone got any good news or ideas for me to try? 

MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.8), Mail 4.5
  • sig Level 8 Level 8 (35,770 points)

    Recover from your backup.

  • thomas_r. Level 7 Level 7 (26,945 points)

    Unfortunately, there is no easy way to recover.  You could try some file recovery software.  See Recovering deleted files.  (Note that my pages contain links to other pages that promote my services, and this should not be taken as an endorsement of my services by Apple.)


    Note that you were warned that this would happen and approved it.  When you delete an e-mail account in Mail, you are shown a message like the following:


    Screen Shot 2012-05-22 at 7.06.26 AM.png


    Many people have the bad habit of not reading such messages, but this is an illustration of why that habit is such a bad one.  Make sure you read any such message thoroughly before proceeding with a destructive action.


    And get your backups back up-to-date!

  • Radiation Mac Level 5 Level 5 (4,630 points)

    Just asking: have you tired resetting up the account settings in Mail EXACTLY as they they were in Mail and attmpted to redownload them off your ISP's mail server, just in case you had set that mail account's settings in your Mail App to have an unchecked "Remove message from Server after retrieving message"?  Otherwise, I'm afraid that, since you don't have a backup, such as TIme Machine running in the background, you are out of luck at this point. 


    Hope this helps

  • thomas_r. Level 7 Level 7 (26,945 points)

    One thought: if you use Time Machine, but just haven't bothered to connect your backup drive in a while, you may have a safety net that will help you.  In Lion (Mac OS X 10.7), Time Machine stores a week's worth of backups locally, on the internal hard drive.  Try opening Mail and selecting Enter Time Machine from the Time Machine menu, and see if the account shows up with messages to recover.  Note that stuff is deleted from the local snapshots after one week, though, so you need to check this within one week of deleting that account!


    Of course, if you have Time Machine turned off, or are not using Lion (your profile says Snow Leopard, but many people don't update their profiles), this is not an option.

  • RCully Calculating status...

    When I wanted to go from POP to IMAP, all emails were deleted but once I'd set up the IMAP account, all of the emails still on my (Virgin) web email site downloaded and repopulated my device.


    Not sure if you'd already carried out this activity.......

  • Lanny Level 5 Level 5 (4,165 points)

    Can I assume that you've looked in your Mail folder for mbox files (user/Library/Mail)?

  • thomas_r. Level 7 Level 7 (26,945 points)

    You didn't read my problem - I said I deleted a POP email account.  I always read the messages that pop up and in Mail when you delete a POP account - IT DOESN'T TELL YOU NUTHIN!  It just deletes it


    Nonsense!  It doesn't matter whether it is a POP account or an IMAP account, other than some minor details in the message's text.  Rather than argue about it, though, I'll simply provide you the proof:


    Screen Shot 2012-05-25 at 12.14.37 PM.png


    If you really truly didn't see this message, then something is seriously wrong with Mail on your system.  I suspect, though, that you hit return and dismissed it before you realized it was even there.

  • Lanny Level 5 Level 5 (4,165 points)
  • SaraOOL Calculating status...

    Once emails are gone in Apple Mail (including out of the Trash folder) they are pretty much gone.


    You can try data recovery software e.g. TestDisk or Data Rescue but my experience is discouraging at best. With only 20 minutes (in idle) between deletion in Apple Mail and using Data Recovery software we got maybe 1% of over 5000 mails back while it took several hours to perform.

    And as always, the more you use the computer in-between the lower the chance of recovery.


    First make sure that within the Account settings you set to “Move deleted messages to the Trash mailbox” and you set “Permanently erase deleted messages when” to “never”.

    If all of this is set you might be lucky and the mailbox is just corrupt. You can check whether there are mails in the Trash by going into “/Users/yourname/Library/Mail/V2/Mailboxe/Trash.mbox” and look through the subfolder(s). The easiest way is to use the Finder menu “Go”, then press ALT to make the Library show up and select it.

    If there are mails in there copy them to your Desktop or make a backup somewhere else. Then within Mail select the Trash folder and at the top menu click “Mailbox > Rebuild”.

  • Lanny Level 5 Level 5 (4,165 points)

    Such a long response to a thread that has been inactive for over a year and half.


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