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Without the "archive messages" selected, there is NO way to retrieve MSN Messenger History.

Are you *sure* there's no way to retrieve MSN Messenger history without "archive messages" selected?

I've actually been asked "are you sure?" several times. I'm not sure if it's suspicious spouses or parents - or perhaps nervous spouses or kids - but here's one example:

From your article Can I retrieve old MSN Messenger conversations? I just wanted to quickly ask if there is any other way to retrieve MSN history if the "auto archive messages" option is not chosen. There must be a way!!

Not that I'm aware of, anyway. Conversations, when not being archived, may never even hit the disk, so there's nothing saved to be recovered. There might be small, tiny chances that some memory swapping happened and that a fragment landed on disk, but again the chances are small and it was probably immediately overwritten. The same tiny chance applies for any equipment that the conversation traveled through.

To go further down that path you're really talking computer forensics - the stuff of computer detectives pulling apart hard drives to see what can be recovered even from deleted data. But as I said, it's unlikely there's anything TO recover. And that's an expensive path to go down.

If you're looking at all this before the fact, you could install various forms of spyware. My prior article How can I keep my kids safe from internet garbage? discusses this, and has links to some resources.

Article C2026 - June 12, 2004 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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23 Comments
zoton
September 3, 2004 9:19 PM

I accidently deleted the file containing a conversation from the "My Received Files" directory. (From what I remember it had the persons name followed by a lot of numbers). Now when I go to Tools/Options/Messages I cannot select "Automatically keep a history..." as it is greyed out. How can I recreate this? I thought restarting would recreate it but it doesn't. I'm using Windows XP. Can anyone help please.....

Leo
September 5, 2004 9:13 PM

Rebooting certainly won't recreate a file that has been deleted. You *may* have luck with an undelete utility, but it's a very slim chance - I actually don't have a recommendation for one - you might try Googling for one.

Paul
April 29, 2005 3:52 AM

is thur a way of seeing who the personm i am tlking to is tlking to?

Leo
April 29, 2005 9:03 AM

Nope.

static
January 26, 2006 1:18 PM

download the program EtherBoss MSN logger..... this program, run on any pc on a network will record history from all computers on the network and log them in a single database..... Oh and it doesn't need to be on the computer the kids use

Rina
April 10, 2006 11:35 PM

Can someone please tell me....
If we use msn in the office which is running on a server, and we do not keep history of the conversations, can all the conversations still be retrieved by the IT dept?

Leo
April 11, 2006 12:49 PM

Maybe. The IT deparment could certainly be logging all traffic on the way out of the office.

kathy
September 6, 2006 7:02 PM

I have never seen and believe me I have searched a way to retrieve conversations that are not archived. Also, you cannot see archived messages on yahoo or MSN unless you are on the computer that generated the archives......the computer that was signed in with that account at the time messages were archived I mean. Hope this helps!

Dan
September 17, 2006 4:44 PM

After an MSN crash, I was convinced I'd lost a chunk of conversation as it wasn't added to the message log.

However, I downloaded GOOGLE DESKTOP and the search function on that is absolutely incredible. I typed in the display name of the person I'd been speaking to, and it came up the conversation!
I find it's an incredible tool for searching (a million times better than the 'find files and folders' in Start Bar) and lets you search conversations, deleted documents and old versions of webpages. {Just remember to make a copy of them once you find them, as they won't be there forever!}

Overall I'd say it's an essential programme. And best of all - it's free!

Terri McCormack
October 25, 2006 12:56 PM

Is there a log I can check to see if my son has been signing on to my MSN account at a specific time and date? I suspect he knows my password, which I know I can change, but I would like to know if I can see if someone used my account at a particular time and date. Thank you.

Leo Notenboom
October 25, 2006 1:09 PM

No, not that I'm aware of.

Cameron
January 5, 2007 2:54 PM

[quote=Terri McCormack]Is there a log I can check to see if my son has been signing on to my MSN account at a specific time and date? I suspect he knows my password, which I know I can change, but I would like to know if I can see if someone used my account at a particular time and date. Thank you.[/quote]

There is. Actually it is not exactly easy to do, nor to understand, and it may be behond your knowledge of computers. First off, It is extremely simple if you know what you are looking at, but looks like an incredibly large pile of hay with a needle in the middle. All you would need to do is to log all the connection attempts (Sucessful ones that is) from your firewall and/or modem, and then just look at the log file and look for the internet protocall address that coresponds with the server in which msn messenger / messenger is attempting to connect to. You are looking for the connection on port 1863 from something like 207.46.110.71 (AS AN EXAMPLE. Don't look for this exact number, just look for the port number) make sure that you have timestamping enabled on the log file and it should be very easy to simply search the log file for "1863" (without the quotes) and then look at the timestamp.

Habeekm
January 24, 2007 12:12 PM

You could check:
c:\documents and settings\\my documents\my recieved documents\\history\ look if you can find the .xml files here!!

Wiz
March 20, 2007 2:32 PM

Similarly to someones post above, I was speaking to a friend some weeks ago who said her sister had found a folder which contained allof the MSN conversations her Son had been having. The option to save your conversations in MSN was not checked. More so I just heard this evening that my friend did manage to find all of her sold conversations also, in a folder named "contracts" the exact location of which I still have to find out.

Anyone else ever hear of this ?

Catherine
September 4, 2007 2:09 AM

A male friend has always claimed he is able to find my message logs from years ago, and has actually told me things about their contents that seems to confirm this, things that certainly have not told him. I really need to know if this is true, are all the conversations through messenger actually stored on a server, or space somewhere, that a very clever person can access. He has gained access to my email accounts, bank accounts, ebay accounts and the like, but i think that he has done this with a password catcher on his network. The conversations in question occurred prior to my machine ever connecting to his network and i have never been in the habit of saving my chat logs. Anyone have any ideas?

Vladimir
April 8, 2008 7:10 AM

OK, I have already tested the application for web chat, and an option was to RETRIEVE CHAT HISTORY... I could not believe it, chat history is stored on some Microsoft server, and now I'm looking for that application on the internet... Wish me luck, if I find it, I will post URL to app...
Best regards,
Vladimir

clare
October 5, 2008 2:39 AM

hi there leo,
Am i right in thinking a convo can only be saved on to the disc of the pc the convo is taking place at?
is there any way at all a convo coyld appear on the disc when you are not actually at that pc using messenger?
My partner swears his pc was remotely hacked , becasue there is a convo on his disc that he swears was not made by him. is this possible?

Stacey
January 19, 2010 3:36 AM

Just wondering if there is anyway i can get my msn chat logs back. I did have them sved then ly laptop broke so had to get a system restore an lost them. I really need them so i really need to know if there is any chance...........

rin
February 21, 2010 9:23 AM

Hi,
I would like to know if there's a way to retrieve ALL the messages in MSN history if we are using different laptops over the years?

Nope. Not that I know of. After all that time and number of machines I'm pretty sure it's gone forever.
Leo
22-Feb-2010

Johny Cash
February 27, 2010 6:45 AM

No, you cannot get your logs back, they are saved in a file on your computer. If you use a restore disk, it erases your disk and puts everything back to factory defaults. You won't find them saved online. (this is how you can read history, without being logged online)

cem
April 6, 2010 6:15 AM

How can i require msn talkings from hotmail.com. i should take talkings for last year.

Sorry. No idea what you mean by "talkings".
Leo
06-Apr-2010

sandy
July 5, 2010 10:00 AM

I happen to retrieve conversations my husband had deleted. My questions is ..Is it possible that when these messages are retrieve they appear as emails and not chats between two people? Because when I retrieved the conversations they showed up in his inbox. There was nothing in the inbox because he had deleted everything. I used his computer and the contacts listed on his contact list to retrieve any contact info and any history,. when I did this many of the conversation appeared as emails.Is this possible?

I've certainly never heard of anything like that.
Leo
06-Jul-2010

Kay
August 13, 2010 12:29 PM

In my settings,I saved my MSN history.But I can't find it.Do you know where they store it?Maybe it's because it's a new MSN Messenger.But I'm not sure

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