Retention periods and Deleted Items

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Senior Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2016 32 bit
Email Account (as MS Exchange)
MS is mute about what the retention period for Deleted Items is. They don't actually say what it is in any support document that I've found. New to using Outlook against in Exchange mode (as opposed to POP3, where there is no retention period) for the last month, I'm actually paying attention to this now.

The retention period appears to be one week, but there are complications.

First, I see that newly deleted items when opened in Outlook say "This item will expire in 6 days." So, rounding up, I guess it's one week, which seems absurdly short to me. Seriously, insanely short considering the GBs of space. Gmail doesn't work this way.

It goes on to say "To keep this longer apply a different retention policy." Which isn't possible on as it is in Office 365.

If I go back a week in my Deleted Items, Outlook tells me that "This item has expired," but it's still there (this is good, but weird, since what does expired even mean then).

Starting at about two weeks ago, let's say 9/10/2018 for this example, it says "Retention Policy: Consumer Deleted Items (1 week). Expires 9/17/2018." But it's still there.

Messages go back about a month, though there are a few older stragglers. Definitely not one week.

This doesn't even get into the Recovery area, which MS does say is supposed to be good for 30 more days (so, I guess 7+30). But this doesn't seem to work as advertised either. I see that it did the vast majority of its work on 9/12/2018 ("Deleted On"--it did the deleting, I didn't) and very little before or since. Messages in Recovery date back several months (good, but again unpredictable, as the purging can seemingly happen at any time).

Is any of this normal?
The mailbox manager that deletes the messages doesn't run daily, so you many have slightly older items - I believe it runs weekly. I think they hang around 30 days, even though they expire after 7. If you are using Outlook desktop, add the modified field to the view - that is the date that matters for deletions. And which client deleted it can affect it.

I occasionally have really old items (based on modified date) left hanging around. I haven't figured out why some seem to get stuck.
Yes, I use Outlook desktop. That Modified field is an interesting one, since it initially hews closely to Received, but at a certain point diverges considerably. As an example, a whole slew of them are 9/12, which not coincidentally is the date I mentioned above as being the "Deleted On" date in Recovery. Not that they were deleted, which is good, but it just seems like this whole process and some of the terminology is a little squishy.

I hope MS one day expands this retention period out just a bit. One week, or the one month that it appears to be in reality, is short.
Modified date is pretty much the last time you did anything to the message - deleted it, read it, replied, flagged it etc.

Honestly, I doubt they will adjust the retention period for the consumer side.
It's more than that: it's also roughly the last time Outlook moved messages into Recovery. It moved a bunch over for me this morning, about two weeks after the last big batch, and all the remaining items in Deleted Items received an updated Modified date of about a half hour later.

As it stands now, I have a little over two weeks' worth of messages in Deleted Items, and about three months' worth of (unsearchable) messages in Recovery. Oddly, 10 or so non-junk messages in Recovery have very recent Received dates (inside the two weeks), so there's some other event that can send messages there before their time, I guess. Or the mailbox manager is off its meds. This is one strange feature.
Yeah, moving the messages (to any folder) should change the modified date too - pretty much anything you do to a message changes the date.

I vote for off its meds. :)

On the search - you're using, correct? Recover deleted is not searchable in Outlook desktop but is searchable in the new - I lost the best switch last week and cant check to see if its in the 'classic' version. (If you still have the beta switch, turn it on.)

As an FYI on the comment that gmail doesn't empty deleted - my trash folder has this banner "Messages that have been in Trash more than 30 days will be automatically deleted." IMAP users have the option of moving deleted mail to the archive folder or trash - so you could theoretically keep trash forever if you archive it. Or until you run out of space- the mailbox shares space with Drive. (I run out of space about once a year and need to clear out the mailbox - and I'm paying for 100GB of extra.)

If they change it 30 days, I dont see it extended much beyond that.
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