What do you do when a chunk of email messages disappears? Our Helproom editor explains.

QUESTION My Outlook emails have gone missing. I switched on my PC for the first time following a recent holiday and discovered that all my email sent or received between March and June has gone missing. I can see that Outlook is indexing my PC. Is there a way I can quit this process and get my email back? Craig Langdon

HELPROOM ANSWER The fate of your missing email and whether or not it can be retrieved depends on how your mail server is set up. Indexing is unlikely to be the cause of the missing email: this process speeds up search; it doesn't remove any files.

If you experience the sudden loss of all your messages prior to a given date, you'll usually find that 'Auto Archive' has cleaned up your inbox and archived old messages.

It's not clear whether this is the case for you, Craig, although it sounds as though you have a gap in your messages rather than a total loss of email. Such gaps can be caused if you access your email on a different computer to your usual machine and both are set up to download and then delete email from the server. If you logged in during your holiday, you'll find your missing email on whichever PC you used.

It's possible that your missing messages are still present on your mail server. If you have the option to check your email online, try logging in using the web interface and look for your email there.

If you've been completing regular backups, you can restore your missing messages from a .PST file. Open Outlook and select File, Import and Export, 'Import from another program or file'. Browse to your .PST file and select 'Replace duplicate items with items imported'.

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