Q: Comcast told me I had to change my Outlook 2007 settings in order to keep receiving email. After I made the changes, I could still send emails but I couldn’t receive any, and a new inbox was created that didn’t contain my old email. A Comcast technician finally helped fix Outlook so I could send and receive email again, but many messages contained in the original inbox are missing. How can I get my emails back?
— Claudia Schuman, Champlin, Minn.
A: Comcast is trying to make its email system more secure for customers with older POP (post office protocol) email accounts. To do that, it’s requiring you to switch Outlook 2007’s email communications to a different “port,” or software connection.
This has been a bumpy transition, and several customers have complained that their email didn’t work after they changed the Outlook port number. In your case, Comcast seems to have made your email work correctly, but at the expense of deleting old emails that you wanted to save.
The big question is whether those missing emails can be recovered. In POP email accounts, the default setting is for emails to be deleted from the mail server once they’ve been downloaded to your PC. So, if the emails are also missing from your PC, they may be gone for good.
But, if the emails still exist somewhere, here are some ways you can try to recover them:
If the missing emails were only recently deleted, you might be able to recover them from within Outlook (see directions at tinyurl.com/y9gyhuoq).
It’s possible that the missing emails were saved somewhere on your PC. To find them, search your PC’s hard drive for files in the “.pst” format that Outlook 2007 uses. To do that, open Windows Explorer (called File Explorer in Windows 8 and 10), click on the C drive, and in the search box at the upper right, type “.pst” (without the quotation marks.) Click Enter.
POP mail accounts can be set so that they don’t automatically delete email from the server once the messages have been downloaded to a computer (see tinyurl.com/yb4lp8ou). If your account is set up that way, your old mail may still be on Comcast’s mail server.
Email providers like Comcast sometimes retain deleted email on the server for a limited period of time before actually erasing it. If that’s the case, Comcast may be able to help you recover some recently deleted mail.