Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Retrieving old emails is only possible if your ISP keeps backups of files from that time. It's unlikely.

Hi, this may be a long shot but is it possible to retrieve my old Tiscali emails that I sent and received? It's very important for evidence in a court case.

In this excerpt from Answercast #83, I look at the possibility of retrieving emails from an old ISP and where you need to go to find out.

Retrieving old emails

Unfortunately, the answer is probably no. But more importantly, you're asking the wrong person.

Whenever you have an issue that is specifically with an ISP, an email provider, only they can answer that question. Only they will know whether or not emails you've retrieved or deleted on their system have been deleted.

ISP's retaining emails

Now, I'm not at all familiar with Tiscali. I have no experience with them. If they are like a normal ISP, the answer is still no.

The issue is that when you sign up with an ISP, I'm sure that part of the terms of services is that you and only you are responsible for the maintenance of your email, of your files - that includes things like backing up.

That's another reason that I talk so frequently about backing up data - because you always end up needing it moments after it's irretrievably gone.

Keep your own backups

Have a backup. Make sure it's never irretrievably gone.

So, ultimately I don't have a lot of hope for you. I can tell you that the right place to go to get that question answered is your ISP, your email service provider. In this particular case, that means contacting Tiscali.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Article C6194 - December 30, 2012 « »

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.

Not what you needed?

Deborah M.
January 1, 2013 6:21 PM

Hello, Leo! I LOVE your website and newsletters and greatly appreciate your knowledge of all-things computer. (You're some kind of genius, aren't you?! You would HAVE to be...) Question: Is it possible for me to copy or transfer e-mails I've sent/received from one ISP to another? Thanks!

Mark J
January 2, 2013 2:47 AM

If you still have the emails on the ISP's server, and if your ISP supports IMAP (most do), you can set up an email program to download your emails to your email program via IMAP. Then you can set up your email program to access the new email account using IMAP and copy the emails from the inbox and sent mail of the old email account into the inbox and sent mail folders in the new account.
What is IMAP? And how can it help me manage my email?

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