To Recover Deleted Emails, Contact IT Department
It appears that most of the email service providers who have operations in India, have committed to turn over email boxes of citizens under the scanner of the law. This process includes recovery of deleted emails.
I have been asked this question time and again – Can deleted emails from Hotmail / Gmail / Yahoo / etc. be recovered?
My simple answer would be “Yes”. Can you get access to recovered email? Again simple, “No”.
Email today is no longer stored as ‘mbox’ files on a Unix system. The sheer volume of email, the ginormous in-box sizes and superb facilities such as tagging, indexing & search, context sensitive ads; mean that your emails are undoubtedly stored as database records.
It is quite simple for email service providers to change the tag of your email from ‘inbox’ to ‘Deleted’ when you click delete. In fact all email providers let you review your deleted emails. From this point on, the choice is yours – either empty the trash immediately or allow automatic house-keeping to empty the trash after 30 days. We sleep well at night knowing that incinerated emails will not rise from ashes again.
What if the process of ’emptying the trash’ did not actually delete the database record but simply tagged it as ‘incinerated’? The email presentation interface can easily be programmed not to show records with the tag ‘incinerated’ ever, but the records themselves would actually remain the database.
How long would they remain in the database? Maybe forever. Maybe 3 months. Maybe 6 months or even 1 year. If Google can give you 7 GB in-box for free (Hotmail, Rediff claim infinite in-box), they can merrily assign another 7 GB to store your trashed emails.
When the taxman cometh, they turndeth white and hand-overth the 7 GB trash folder.
Obviously, email service providers will only turn over your emails to the law if you are perceived as a threat to National Development (aka tax evader) or threat to National Security (aka terrorist).
So if you only deleted the emails bad-mouthing your boss, and his lawyers arrive at Google’s offices in Hyderabad; all they are likely to get is a kick on the back. Go-on! Say it loud and sleep well at night. “F*** You Hari Sadu!”
But if you are really desperate to recover your deleted emails, stop accepting cheque payments and contact the IT Dept. (not Information Technology, the other IT).
Disclaimer: This article is based on real-life stories Not. Any resemblance to people and events is purely co-incidental.