I just received a call from a client saying that all their emails have dissappeared from their inbox. I logged on to their webmail account via CPanel and RoundCube and this appears to be true - there are emails in sent, drafts, junk and deleted but nothing in the inbox.

There is plenty of room on our VPS and the client has plenty of quota.

I sent a test email and it did appear fine in the webmail server.

What could have caused this and is there any way to retrieve it?

  • Yes it was helpful - I just had to make sure that what you said was what was happening to me before I properly accepted – MeltingDog Jul 7 '13 at 23:18

This can happen if the email box was deleted in the control panel and then added back, or the account was deleted and then re-added. Depending on whether the emails in sent, drafts, and junk are new, this could have occurred.

Otherwise, messages can be deleted inadvertently if an email client has the option set to delete all messages on the server. Thus if someone had selected this option in a program like Outlook and checked the email box, messages would no longer appear in their webmail inbox.

If you have root access to the VPS, then you can review the mail server logs. For Exim with cPanel, this should help: View Exim Mail Activity

Here's how to grep a single email address in the logs: Grep / Search the Exim Mail Logs

If the account, email box, or messages were deleted and you're backing up on a daily basis (as you should do), you can try to restore the account. Just be sure to do an account backup prior to doing this, so that you won't lose anything new since the backup was done.

For this, and for additional help retrieving emails back into the email account, you should contact cPanel's tech support if you have a license with them, or your web hosting company if not.

  • Yes I found that the issue was what you mentioned in your 2nd paragraph. The user had about 4 email clients and several were set to POP instead of IMAP – MeltingDog Jul 7 '13 at 23:19
  • @MeltingDog Glad it helped. Hope you got it all sorted out. – dan Jul 8 '13 at 5:11

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