It is easy to take email correspondence for granted. Whenever we want to access some information, a quick search through the archives reveals every document and every conversation. However, if your hard drive fails or even if you have just changed email programs, you might just find yourself with a problem. Suddenly losing that wealth of correspondence and the information contained within it can, at best, be irritating or distressing and, at worst, be quite devastating.

Fortunately, with a little bit of knowledge or with the help of an IT consulting professional, there is a good chance you will be able to recover your emails.

Don’t Just Dive In

Unless you know what you are doing, be wary of just ‘having a go’. If your knowledge and understanding of computers is limited, you could do more harm than good. So, before trying to recover your lost emails, take a step back, think about what you may have done to cause the problem and whether there is a simple solution. If nothing else, gaining this clearer understanding of the situation will help you to explain what happened, should you need to call in someone else to help fix the problem.

Look for Help Already at Hand

Before you start to panic, make sure you have actually lost your emails completely. Use the tools your email provider supplies to restore any backed up messages or those that have simply been deleted. Click on the ‘Help’ icon within your email program and do a quick search for relevant topics. This information is written in a way that assumes only the most basic of understanding, so regardless of your level of computer literacy, it should be able to set you on your way.

Use the Web

Once you have established that this is a problem that you are not going to be able to fix on your own, fear not, there is plenty of help out there. A quick Google search reveals an array of articles, forum discussions, and videos on just this subject. The key is to be precise with your search. Specify the program you are using and, perhaps, also the hardware. This will get you to the right resources more quickly.

Get Professional Help

If all else fails, and you really need to recover your emails, then you might have to call in some professional help. While this inevitably means a financial outlay, the cost is likely to be relatively small, compared to the cost of all your lost correspondence. The chances of success are also relatively high. Computer information is rarely lost completely, so once you get a professional on the case, you can be fairly confident of a positive outcome.

Prevention is Better than Cure

Of course, the best way to make sure you always have access to your email correspondence is to protect it in the first place. This means backing up all your files. Set your computers to back up regularly and automatically, so that you do not have to rely on your memory to ensure that it is done. Remember too that if you are planning to change your email program, you do not have to say goodbye to all your existing emails. There is easy-to-use software available that will help you export Lotus Notes to Outlook, for example, so you’ll still be able to keep track of all your correspondence.