This question is prompted by my finding hundreds of e-mails that I thought I had deleted still on my web-mail. So I followed instructions to put them in Trash and to Empty Trash. Are they now absolutely irretrievable, or could someone who didn't care about time or money, in principle, get them? (Is everything ever sent retrievable, in principle?) I am not worried, merely curious. The web-mail even asked me, rhetorically: "Why delete anything when you have so much storage space?" Deletion seems to be against the mores of the computer world.
closed as off-topic by J.-E. Pin, David Richerby, vonbrand, Juho, Nicholas Mancuso Aug 4 '15 at 23:52
This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:
- "This question does not appear to be about computer science, within the scope defined in the help center." – David Richerby, vonbrand, Juho, Nicholas Mancuso
The answer depends upon how the webmail service is implemented, and whether it tries to delete all copies of the email. As one example, if the webmail service keeps periodic backups, the email might still be present in the backups. As another example, a webmail service could implement "Empty Trash" to hide your email so it won't show up to you, but is still stored somewhere (e.g., so they can continue to profile you and show you advertising). Without knowing how the webmail service is implemented, you probably can't know for sure whether the email is retrievable or not.
Of course, the sender and any other recipients will still retain a copy of the email, so in practice that will usually be one way that a copy of your email could be retrieved.