Will I find old emails on backup?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by anatfizz, Jun 30, 2013.

  1. anatfizz macrumors newbie

    Jan 23, 2011
    My wife deleted a lot of old emails from her Mail account and also from the Verizon account. I frequently backup her computer to an external HD and was wondering if there is some way of accessing them on the backed up files?
    I've opened the external drive but see nothing that would lead me in that direction. Any advise?

    Thanks in advance
  2. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    It depends a lot on your e-mail program, and how it was set up.

    If you use webmail through your browser, forget it. Nothing there is getting stored locally, and so they won't show up in your backups at all.

    If your wife had set up POP e-mail on say, FireFox or Apple Mail or a similar app, then all of your e-mail should've been downloaded to the hard drive by default, and they should be in your backups somewhere.

    But if you were set up for IMAP, then by default, e-mails stay on the mail server, and if you delete them, you're deleting directly off the server and are probably gone for good.

    In the case of IMAP, your only saving grace is if your e-mail client was set up for online usage... then, some of the e-mails might have been downloaded to the drive for temporary storage, and might be in your backups.

    To see if this is the case, disconnect the computer from any internet connection, restore from backups, and see if any e-mails are there. If they are, you can probably export them to an external file. As soon as you connect again to the internet, and sync up with your IMAP server, those messages will be deleted off the e-mail client again, so exporting would be your only way of keeping them.
  3. James Craner macrumors 68000

    James Craner

    Sep 13, 2002
    Bristol, UK
    If you used Time Machine to back up your Mac and you use the Apple Mail app, you can restore emails that you have deleted. With the Mail app as the active application click on the Time Machine icon in your dock and you will go into the Time Machine user interface, and you will be able to move back in time through your email folders and recover the emails. Obviously you will need to have been using Time Machine prior to the emails being deleted, for this to work.

    Mail TM.png

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