Changed root folder path, permanently lost folders and messages?

Hello,

I have a puzzler for the Outlook wizards. I'm wondering if somebody can help me recover my colleague's lost folders and messages. The short version is that I changed the Root Folder Path setting in Outlook 2013 for his IMAP account, resulting in the loss of several nested folders and contained messages that were apparently not synced by IMAP. Reverting the setting did not recover the folders/messages!

------- Long version ------------

Please bear with me on the explanation and please please do provide any relevant input that might help with this issue.

My colleague is using Outlook 2013 and had 2 IMAP accounts configured: 1 Gmail account and 1 other account (let's call it "Work"). At first, his issue was that several of his "Work" account folders nested under the Inbox were not syncing to his iPhone email client. I attempted to help by configuring IMAP folders in both applications.

The provider of the Work email specifies that the path for IMAP folders should be configured as "INBOX." Therefore I set this path on his iPhone and changed the Root Folder Path in Outlook 2013 for the Work account to the same, "INBOX".

Upon the change in Outlook 2013, his nested folders immediately disappeared, including all of the contained messages. I reverted the setting back to the default (blank), which restored only 1 folder with a handful of messages, one that apparently had been configured as an IMAP folder, but the rest of the folders were just gone!

!!! I had just eliminated the majority of my colleagues work email!

One important piece of information that I was given after the fact was that the disappeared folders from the Work account had been "dragged and dropped" there from the Gmail account folders that appeared in Outlook.

So where did the other folders and messages go?! Any help recovering the messages and (less importantly) folder structure would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,

Nanovation

 

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Last updated July 4, 2019 Views 4,594 Applies to:

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You may not have lost anything and you can easily verify it by logging into the mailbox using a web browser.  Typically, changing the root path merely changes the presentation.  With Google Mail, there are other considerations as well because of the flexibility you have using the IMAP settings in the mailbox.

Usually, with Google Mail, the root folder path should be "[Gmail]" and not "Inbox".  See http://www.howto-outlook.com/howto/gmailroot.htm for what I find to be a clear explanation of controlling the relationship between Google Mail's labels and Outlook's folders.

If you dragged information from one folder set in Outlook into the IMAP folder set and the sync never completed properly, then the possibility of data loss is real.  You do have backups, correct?

Brian

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You may not have lost anything and you can easily verify it by logging into the mailbox using a web browser.  Typically, changing the root path merely changes the presentation.  With Google Mail, there are other considerations as well because of the flexibility you have using the IMAP settings in the mailbox.

Usually, with Google Mail, the root folder path should be "[Gmail]" and not "Inbox".  See http://www.howto-outlook.com/howto/gmailroot.htm for what I find to be a clear explanation of controlling the relationship between Google Mail's labels and Outlook's folders.

If you dragged information from one folder set in Outlook into the IMAP folder set and the sync never completed properly, then the possibility of data loss is real.  You do have backups, correct?

Thanks for the reply, Brian.

We tried logging into the Work provider's web interface, and found no folders or messages corresponding to the folders that were lost (recall, originally generated by "drag-n-drop" from folders in Outlook under the Gmail IMAP account). These folders contained a mix of messages that were sent to his Gmail account or his Work account.

What's puzzling to me is that there remained a folder that clearly was an IMAP folder under his Work account and it was easy to recover and sync.

Is it likely that the other folders were somehow local and not IMAP synchronized?

Interestingly, the <Work>.ost file reports a size of ~4 MB when the properties are checked from Outlook, but in Windows Explorer the file size appears as ~16 MB.

Is it possible that all the messages and folder structure are hiding in that .ost file and that Outlook just isn't displaying them?

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Perhaps.  Use a system restore point from prior to the changes you made.  I don't know of any way to recover, other than that.
Brian

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I set the root folder to Inbox because i was not receiving email. Same result as Nano & you are correct Brian in that no email was actually lost on GMail - it is all there in the webmail, or if you POP it.

However, I found that changing the root folder must have affected the GMail account on the server: I created new IMAP profiles on this & other computers and found that they also lost the folder structure. Moreover, I re-created the folders from backup & repeated the procedure with the same results...

Incidentally, I only found this thread after I had confirmed the cause - I was searching for "Outlook IMAP to GMail missing subfolders" and the like.

Unfortunately, setting the root folder as you, Brian, have prescribed, does not restore the folders - which confirms my theory that the GMail account gets changed somehow. That is my next avenue of investigation.

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Be sure to read the article I cited back in February.
Brian

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Hi Brian, has anyone found how to recover folders/messages lost in this way?

will a system restore bring them back?

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Changing the root folder path shouldn't change anything on the server, merely cause Outlook to interpret the folder structure that the server is presenting in a different fashion.
Brian

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I completely agree: It SHOULDN'T change anything on the server.

But, if you make the change, then change it back, you do not get your folders back. So, if we agree that there is no change on the server, then it means that those folders never existed on the server - Outlook IMAP is lying & saving permanent data in an OST that gets wiped/rebuilt at the metaphorical drop of a hat. If that is true, it completely undermines the purpose of IMAP.

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I think that's what happened, because outlook 2013 hadn't synchronized with the server properly and we were trying to fix it we changed the root folder to Inbox which removed all the folders and messages and I cant seem to get them, back!!

Is there somewhere you could retrieve them?

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That's not what happens for me. When I tested this by changing the root folder path and then changing it back, the folders reverted to what they were originally.
Brian

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