Last reviewed on January 26, 2015   —  107 Comments

A common mistake many users who keep copies of their email in their POP3 mailbox make when setting up a new email account is forgetting to change the setting to leave mail on the server, so Outlook downloads and deletes it from the server.

If this happens to you, you can restore the deleted mail to the server only if you have IMAP access to your mailbox.

Using IMAP to restore mail to the server

When you email account supports IMAP, you can restore mail to the server in a few simple steps:

  1. Create a second email account in your profile using the IMAP account type.
  2. You'll now have two accounts in your profile for the same email account, with the IMAP account adding a second *.pst to the profile.
  3. Make sure you set the POP3 account to leave mail on the server in the account's More Settings. Advanced dialog.
  4. Drag the messages from the POP3 Inbox to the IMAP folder's Inbox.
  5. Tip: You may want to start with about 100 messages at a time and wait a minute or so for the messages to sync up. If it works well, select a larger block of messages to move in the second batch.

  6. The messages will be synced with the mailbox on the server.
  7. When finished, remove the IMAP account from the profile. (unless you want to use it instead of POP3.)

Gmail: configure the account for IMAP in your GMAIL settings then setup the email account in Outlook. Gear icon, Mail settings, Forwarding and POP/IMAP link)
Yahoo: use for the IMAP server name. In Outlook 2007 and 2010 you need to create the account manually.

Hotmail: although Hotmail does not support IMAP, you can use the Outlook Hotmail Connector to upload mail to the server.

Note that both Gmail and Hotmail make it difficult for Outlook to delete mail from the server. If Outlook deleted downloaded email from either account, check your settings in the account online and configure it to archive mail downloaded using POP3.

If your mail server doesn't support IMAP

If your email account does not support IMAP, you can't easily restore mail to the server unless it can POP email from other servers. In this case, you could upload the mail to another server then POP it back to your original email account. If this is not possible and you need online access to the mail you downloaded, consider using Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo to store it online for you.

If your account can collect mail from POP accounts (like Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail do), you can upload the mail using IMAP then your account can collect it using POP3. Before using this method, verify your POP3 account can collect mail from the IMAP server - GMail and Hotmail require SSL for POP3 services and many accounts do not use SSL when "popping" accounts.

  1. Create an account that supports both POP3 and IMAP.
  2. Use the instructions above to put the mail online.
  3. Go to your mail account's web access and configure the account to collect POP mail from the new account.
  4. Once the messages are back online in your mailbox, delete the POP account from the online configuration and the IMAP account from Outlook.

Restoring Exchange Server mail to the server

If this happens with an Exchange server account, set the Exchange account as the default delivery location and drag any mail that does not resync with the Exchange mailbox back to the mailbox.


  1. shizzle bizzle says

    You're awesome. I love you. I want you to have my babies. =D

    On a serious note, this is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks!

  2. Daniel says

    Hi Mrs Dianne, Thank you for your advice, works!!!! just one detail, "the date" my mails are coming to yahoo server but the date appears as the present date, not as the original there something I could do to recover this also?

    Thank you anyways

    • Diane Poremsky says

      I'll check into it - but generally, the date is read-only. Is it correct if you look at it in an open message?

  3. Daniel says

    Yes, in an open message is correct, the original details remain. Just when they are coming back to server, they appear with today`s date and time. Is a minor issue, but sometimes help that category.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Close the reading pane (so the message list uses one line) - which date field do you use? Right click on the date field name and choose Field chooser - select Date from the drop down and drag the date fields to the row of field (column) names. The sent date should do the best - it's usually within minutes of the received date but the difference can be hours or days. (Which is why we don't usually use it.)

  4. Justin F says

    Thank you so much. So simple, yet effective.
    Its very silly that Outlook 'auto' setup, defaults to pop3 server types.

    Thanks again

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Oh, I don't know... Outlook 2013 defaults to IMAP if the server supports it, even if the account is not enabled for IMAP. It's annoying. I liked Outlook 2010's method - set up POP3 and keep mail on the server for 14 days better.

  5. Frank J. LaTray says

    I have been trying to get outlook email . I have a new computer, i'm trying to set up my email which was outlook POP-3 .

  6. Charles Rukuni says

    My outlook 2007 has been giving me problems. I was getting a message saying the outlook version you have may not be compatible with the outlook.... go to your windows control panel, click on the mail box, then show profiles and then add. I did that and created a new profile and then removed the old profile. The new outlooked opened without a hitch but all my old emails, contacts, calender are gone. is there any way of recovering them. They were not on my server because I was using pop3. I only learnt recently that I should use imap.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      You should have a pst the the old account used. Go to Tools, Account Settings, Data Files tab and click Add. Is your old pst file there? If so, select it. You can set it as default on the data files tab and set the email account to deliver to it on the Email accounts tab.

  7. Fariborz says

    Thank you for your fantastic article. I lost all my yahoo inbox. configuring outlook 2007 what should I put for incoming and outgoing mails? use for both? Thank you in advance

  8. Juanna says

    Hi I found this but couldn't work it! how i lost my emails was i set up Mail App on my MacBook Air and forgot to unmark "remove copy from server" so all my emails were gone from the server...any idea how i can get them back on the server on MacBook Air and with Mail App? my account is not IMAP it is POP3...thank you

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Does your account support IMAP? If not, you'll need to forward them to your email account - and that is really not a very workable solution.

  9. Alex says

    Hello, my web server does not support IMAP, so I'would like to restore the mails by using the IMAP server. But don't know how to create an Outlook account wich support BOTH POP3 and IMAP. And how should i configure my server for collecting mails from another POP3? Pls help. Alex

    • Diane Poremsky says

      If your mail server doesn't support imap, it's tough to upload mail - if your email account can collect mail from other accounts, you need to create an account at google or then set the pop3 account up to collect mail from the server but not all pop3 servers supports this.

  10. Grace says

    Hi i have a problem with my restoring my mail because they were in my company mail and we are using to access mail. I have tried to restore my inbox to no avail. i am also using outlook 2007 and pop3. how do i go about it? Your assistance is really appreciated.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      If you need to put mail back on the server, you need to be able to use IMAP, as POP3 is one way - down. If you account allows you to use IMAP, create a new account in Outlook using the IMAP settings then move mail from the pop3 mailbox to imap. You'll want to disable the option to check for new mail in Outlook and make sure the pop account is leaving mail on the server.

  11. Shaun says

    Im having issues because I formatted my phone after the new android update. When I added my hotmail account back onto my phone, it defaulted to IMAP and I didnt notice that deleting the mail from my phone would also delete them from my actual hotmail account since they were no longer just a copy. When I follow your steps above and try to add a duplicate account but this time a POP3 account, my phone tells me I already have that account activated and I can't duplicate it :( How do I get my inbox back, it had flight itinerary, hotel confirmations, etc and nothing is showing up in my trash folder on either my phone or my computer.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Unfortunately, if you deleted them from the phone and they are not in the phone's trash, they are gone for good. On the accounts on the phone, you'd need to remove the account and re-add it as a pop3 account.

  12. Steve says

    Hello.....Loved your solution.....this seemed to work great for the inBOX, but what about other folders.....have a user that wants to migrate all of her Sent Folder too (some 5000 emails) and this does not seem to be workimg, none of the emails in the sent Folder are coming over,,, Puzzled?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      It should work for any folder. Are there any sync errors? Did you try moving a few at a time or all 5000 at once? Try a few - see if they sync up. If so, try a larger group. I'd also make a copy of the pst file then move, instead of copying, the messages. (Make the copy of the pst just in case something goes wrong and they don't sync up.)

  13. Roger says

    i had configured yahoo mails on outlook but mails have disappeared from web yahoo page how can i get the copy back on the server of my old mails. This is very urgent to me

  14. magda says

    Hi Diane , you have been of great help to me , i did and imported all my email to a new imps new profile , and when send and receive it make synchronise but mails didn't restore on my go daddy account server ! can you give any further steps to do , thanks magda

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Is a POP account still removing them from the server? Are there any errors in the Sync errors folder?

  15. Tom Jones says

    I set up a pop account on outlook for my wife and forgot to turn on the keep on server setting for the webmail server twc roadrunner. I read this and set up the IMAP and did exactly as you said but all I can figure is time warner roadrunner webmail does not allow to put the emails back on their server. Anyone else tried this with roadrunner and had success(or not)?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      When you set up the IMAP account, did mail download to Outlook? What happened when you tried - any error messages? It should work - you'll need to make sure the pop settings are set to leave on server or it will redownload everything as you add them back.

  16. Fiona Templeton says

    I set up an IMAP account in Outlook for my gmail, but there is no option to leave the messages on the server as there is in a Pop3 account, and it sucked all the messages from the server. I thought IMAP kept them synched. I need to be able to access these from other devices. Help!

    • Diane Poremsky says

      IMAP will keep them synced - it doesn't have a Leave on server option because they are left on the server. Did you move the messages using a rule or drag them to a local pst? That will remove them from the server - but even so, the default setting to is archive, not delete from server.

  17. Fiona Templeton says

    I enabled Pop3 but IMAP was still deleting messages off the server. Then I found in gmail settings the option to use "recent mode" which keeps them there. But now I have 2 sets of inboxes etc in Outlook. How do I streamline this?

    All the info says IMAP keeps messages on server but it didn't for me.

    Also, I want to do all this too for a Compuserve account. The "IMAP and POP Configuration Instructions" page in settings is blank. Any advice?

  18. ange says

    I added an existing pop3 (hotmail) account to my gmail profile and forgot to "leave the mail on the server". So now my hotmail inbox is empty. Can I use your method to restore my hotmail inbox?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      You can restore the mail to the server - you'll need to set the Hotmail account up in outlook as an imap account then you can drag mail to the folder. Make sure the leave on server setting is enabled first. :)

  19. Carlos says

    Hi Mrs Diane Poremsky, I am working on Microsoft Outlook 2011 for MAC and I have two MacBooks in which I hold three email accounts, the one I am referring this particular time is a POP account that I wish it could be sync, but it doesn't, so the problem I experience is that sometimes one of the lap tops misses some emails which the other has. I would like to know if there is anything it can be done to correct this issue, your advise would be very much appreciated.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      So mail in the POP3 account doesn't download to Outlook? Does the account support IMAP? That is usually the better option when you use multiple computers - sent items will sync up and the mailboxes will be identical on each computer.

    • Carlos says

      Good morning Mrs Diane Poremsky, this is Carlos.
      Initially I had a personal email account under POP which last Monday 23-02-2015 I created a new account under IMAP in order to sync with the second MacBook mentioned before, as your advised.
      Yesterday 25-02-2015, I experienced not receiving emails in the IMAP account as it did not connect to the network, but in the other hand the POP account was connected and therefore received the emails.
      -NOTE: the network at home is different from the one at work.
      I would like to know if there is any method to recover all that information into Microsoft Outlook IMAP account.
      Your help would be much appreciated.
      Kind regards,

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      Add the account as IMAP to the profile that has the pop account. Remove the pop account from the profile (but leave the pst file in) or set the account so it does not check for mail and set it to leave mail on the server. Move the mail from the pop pst into the imap folders.

      I recommend using imap both at home and work - it is a better experience when you use multiple computers.

    • Carlos says

      Thanks Mrs Diane Poremsky,
      I looked at the location where the PST files could be and I couldn't find any, so after searching on the web I found this article on QUORA under "Where does Mac Outlook 2011 store its data files" and I find the following:

      James McIninch, well-rounded individual
      4 upvotes by Abe Taha, Ronen Morecki, Alexandr Kamenetsky, and Shruti Swaroop.
      The files are in "~/Documents/Microsoft User Data/Office 2011 Identities/Main Identity". Under that directory, e-mail is stored in "Data Records/Messages". Note that Outlook for Mac does not use PST and OST files. Each item is stored as a separate file, which makes indexing with Spotlight for searching much simpler.

      Beforehand I knew the location of my Main Identity was, but I dug out further and I couldn't find any location where the PST files could've been. surely there must be a way to recover all those lost emails, before removing the POP account from the profile.

      Your help is always appreciated.

      Kind regards,

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      Correct, pst files are Windows Outlook only. Mac can import from a pst but not use them.

      The email is in folders in the profile in Outlook 2011 - add an imap account to the profile and drag from the pop3 folders to the imap folders.

  20. theresa says

    I need help. When i began using my new laptop i was using my g mail and yahoo emails. I kept getting this message to sign up for a Microsoft outlook account on my laptop. So I finally did. Now I cannot access my g mail and yahoo mail unless I go through the internet. They used to be automatically there when I turned my laptop on. I had a few draft emails in yahoo that i need to complete and they are not showing up in yahoo when I log on from the internet browser. Can anyone explain to me what happened and how to fix it. I really want to delete this Microsoft email, I don't even use it. Frustrated. =-(

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Are you using the Windows Mail app or Outlook on your desktop? Signing up for account won't affect the other accounts - I would not configure to connect to the accounts.

  21. DJ says

    Hi Diane. I uploaded a large number of emails to a new Outlook 2013 account on a new laptop computer. The emails were all deleted from the server and then when I went into Outlook with a new password a few days later, all of the emails that were downloaded into Outlook vanished in a span of about 5-10 seconds. It apparently re-synced and I lost the emails.

    Is there any process, or software that you recommend, in which these emails can be retrieved from my computer?

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      Probably not... but let me make sure I have the facts straight. You are using IMAP and imported or moved a bunch of mail into Outlook, for them to sync up to the server. So the only place you had a copy was in Outlook as they synced. Then you changed your password and Outlook resynced,but because nothing synced up, the messages are gone.

      If that is what happened, the ost file they were in was cleaned out, so no, there is no file to recover them from. Do you have them in a pst on another computer, backup drive, etc?

  22. Venky says

    Thanks a billion.. Using IMAP method resolved by mistake.. Guys like you are god sent to help novice user like me.. Thanks again for your very useful informationi..

  23. Sandesh says

    I am having an issue that when ever a new mail is synced to outlook or Gmail from the server its being server is deleting the mail how to control it if the mail is not synced the mail will stay in server until it get synced what to do

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      Are you using a POP3 or IMAP account? What version of Outlook? Outlook has an option to leave pop3 mail on the server after downloading it; gmail (in the settings online) has an option to ignore Outlook's delete request.

      This would only happen with an IMAP account if you are moving the imap mail to a pst file.

  24. DILAN says

    Im trying to create a IMAP account, but I'm getting this message - the .DLL file for the information service cannot be loaded?

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      What version of Outlook are you using? Running fixmapi.exe or just repairing your office installation should fix it.

  25. Dilan says

    Office 2007, I'm trying to retrieve emails from the server. I was using a trial outlook 365 and installed 2007 and lost emails

  26. dingding says

    hi ms diane, can I ask help from you? if so please help me how to restore the deleted folder in outlook 2013. the deleted items today. I don't have an exchanged server. pls help me. thank you very much.

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      if the folders are in the pop3 mail folders and you want them back on the server, set up the account as IMAP, make a copy of the POP3 pst file (for safe keeping) then drag the folder into the imap account folders.

  27. Daniel C says

    can anyone help me. i accidentally deleted my emails off yahoo which caused them to get deleted off my iphone. but i have all the emails saved on my mac osx. is there a way to get these emails either back on my iphone or even better back to yahoo server. thanks

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      Sure. Is the account set up on the mac? If its set up as imap, disconnect from the internet before opening the mail client, otherwise it will sync and delete them too. You need to move the mail to an offline folder before going online. Sync, then copy the mail into the imap folders.

      If its pop3, add the account as imap and copy the mail into the imap folders.

      Which mail client do you use on the mac?

  28. VEP says

    Thank you! I backed up my Emails and Change settings to Imap account and it worked like a charm!! Finally! I should have done it a long time ago! I woudld have avoided having to come back to the office at 1am to resend an email that was in my out basket! after that I decided THAT'S IT! I have to crack this stupid Synch problem and after searching a lot in the internet your answer was the best, easy to understand and I was able to get it all Synched! Thank you again!

  29. Emmanuel says

    Can any one help me please!

    I configured my outlook to receive mail via POP from my yahoo later decided to set-up another account via IMAP to receive email from the same yahoo in my outlook 2013 because I want to see my folders in yahoo. while the outlook IMAP was synchronizing with yahoo server, I moved a folder from yahoo outlook IMAP mail to Yahoo POP mail and then Back to yahoo IMAP again during which my net internet network failed. as soon as the network was connected, the synchronization resumed.

    After all completion of synchronization, I could no longer locate the folder moved in both POP and IMAP mail.

    Please kindly advice how to recover this folders again.

    Thanks for all help.


    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      Ouch. If the folder was moved (not copied) and the move failed, the folder is likely lost. Check the deleted items folder (I don't expect you'll find it there but it's worth a shot). Sorry.

  30. Sid says

    Hi. Please could you help me. I was helping my husband try and download his work email to my computer (Mac OSx). After setting up his account, as an exchange account, his emails deleted off his Outlook Web app when he logged in. I think I have all of them in my mac mailbox but is there a way we can get them back to his university account?
    Sorry if I sound like a complete novice.

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      It sounds like it was set up as a pop3 account. Set it up as an IMAP account (the correct server names are in the account online) and copy the mail to the imap folders. But before you do this, log into the account using web mail and see if there is a folder named "pop". Some of the university accounts use and it creates the pop folder, unless the user disabled it.

  31. rembrand says

    I had commented a while ago on here, but had no luck in figuring out how to recover lost emails...but...I was lucky enough to possibly find them on another hard drive that was found this week.

    The problem now is, after I installed Outlook on my laptop, when I drag the pst to the email inbox, it will not let me open the 3.8GB pst data file. The error message says:

    "Cannot copy the items. The file you are attaching is bigger than the server allows. Try putting the file in a shared location and sending a link instead."

    I'm not sure how to do that...any suggestions?

    Also, when I go to 'New Items', click the drop down and then go to 'More Items' and then go to 'Outlook Data File'...and then select the pst file from my desktop, the message in the archive folder in Outlook says:

    "We didn't find anything to show here."

    Any help would be greatly appreciated! These are important email files.

    • rembrand says

      This is an additional comment to my questions...

      Pertaining to the second error message, there must be emails in the pst, being that it is nearly 4GBs of information...or is there a way that these could have been deleted and a file size remains somehow when the pst characteristics are shown?

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      The file size can remain large if mail is deleted (and deleted items folder is emptied), until such time as outlook compacts it. But I don't think that is your problem - it sounds like you didn't open the pst in outlook. The only way to open it is as part of a profile.

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      Did you open the pst file in Outlook? Go to File, Open, Outlook Data Files and browse to locate the pst. (The exact name of the "Open" menu varies in each version.)

      This will open it in outlook so you can view the contents.

      When you "go to 'New Items', click the drop down and then go to 'More Items'" it's looking for templates and custom forms, not a pst and dragging the pst to the inbox sends it by email. Outlook doesn't support double-click to open (like you can do with word and excel files).

  32. rembrand says

    Yes, I did that and the message within the mailbox (inbox) when reading the pst is "We didn't find anything to show here."

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      Do the folders show any message counts in the Status bar? Can you find messages using instant search?

  33. says

    Hi Dianne,

    Thank you for the post.

    I've just got the same issue here. Basically I tried to put my Uni email, which uses the Exchange system, and I forgot to tick the first box. I then realised I lost all the emails so I went back to Gmail and 'delete' my linked email account on the pop3 setting page. That's when I know shit happened. I googled the issues and saw your post. Now I've deleted my linked account, could I still recover my emails?

    Please help!


    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      If you have copies of the mail in the gmail folders or in a pst, yes, you can upload them to the server provided you can create either an imap or MAPI (Exchange) account in outlook. Exchange would be better - it syncs up much faster but imap will work if you can't connect as an exchange account.

    • says

      i saw I've got a sub-file/folder of my uni email at my gmail. Is it the one u referring?

      however, that file/folder only got emails till 26th Jan,

      is there any other method that I can get my emails back?


    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      If outlook or gmail downloaded the messages you received since Jan and you didn't delete them from outlook or gmail, they should be somewhere - either in gmail or in a pst file in outlook.

  34. says

    ok thanks! so what I need to do now is to follow the instruction of the blogpost, is that correct?

    It's been very helpful Diane!

  35. rembrand says

    Hi Diane,

    I found about 20,000 of the emails...I just needed to scroll down a bit and they were shown in an archive folder, below my email inbox folder. Thanks for your help! Whew!

  36. h laurent says

    hi how can i get non-gmail or or hotmail mail pop-stmp server name and ports that they use by only knowing the mail address? for example in my university we use . how can anyone add the coming mails to this mail towards his/her gmail account without knowing what server the university use? is there any kind mail-servername-info-search-engine that i can use? thanks.

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      No, there isn't a search engine specifically for this although sometimes you can find it in search engines. If the account only supports POP3 or IMAP, set it up using auto-account setup in any mail client that supports auto-account setup then check the server settings when it's done.

  37. hoaxloo says

    thx for fast answer. students login as from and page leads them to office365-outlook mail pages. i mean there s an exchange thing going on. i tried the settings below in gmail and hotmail

    POP Server name:
    Port: 995
    IMAP Server name:
    Port: 993
    SMTP Server name:
    Port: 587

    but none of them can match the user name and password that i entered.
    i can login from but can not from with same user name and password.

    and also auto-account setup didn't work in gmail nor hotmail.

    i want to explain students a way to connect their seldom-used-official-school accounts with an active hotmail of facebook etc. of their own.

    any advice after all i add above to solve the issue. to make hundreds of young life including mine easier to connect and live?
    thanks in advance.

  38. Spencer Roane says

    I'm using Outlook 2010 configured POP3, leaving msgs. on the Earthlink server for 14 days. Is there a way to retrieve a msg. from the server back into Outlook if I delete it from Outlook?

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      If less than 14 days, yes, and provided you don't have it set to delete from the server when deleted from outlook.

      The easiest way is to add the account to outlook a second time and download the 14 days worth of mail to a new pst - this way you won't end up with duplicates. When you recover the message, delete the account and the pst it created.

  39. Spencer Roane says

    Diane. I'm having another problem w/ Outlook 2010 that I'd really appreciate your help with. I'm using the POP3 format w/ Earthlink. Some msgs. are rejected immediately with this cryptic rejection msg. from "System Administrator" "550 5.7.1 t6J3YQSn031020 This message does not comply with required standards.". The rejection appears to take place before the msg. even leaves my computer. The problem is very erratic. Some msgs. are rejected, most aren't. Some that are rejected are replies in a thread of msgs. that weren't formerly rejected. I suspected the outgoing port, but Earthlink proves none other than 587. FWIW, I have Trend Micro Max Security installed, but they claim the rejection has nothing to do w/ their software. TIA! Spencer

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      Hmm. Thought I answered this before... must be dreaming. :) Do the messages that bounce with that message contain web links or phone numbers? If so, do the messages send if the links or numbers are removed? Some filter - probably Trend's spam scanner since it bounces so quickly, but it could be EarthLink rejecting it - is triggering on something in the message. Web addresses and telephone numbers are probably the most common triggers.

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