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Thunderbird - emails lost after reformatting
Thread poster: xxxwonita
xxxwonita
China
Local time: 01:42
Sep 29, 2008

2 weeks ago I reformatted my harddisc to XP, since Vista had not worked properly. I copied all old files from Vista to XP, reinstalled Thunderbird, following the instructions step by step. But I could neither recover the old mails, nor could I find them in any of the folders.

Does anybody have an idea, where the mails are?

Thanks


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Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 23:42
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Spanish
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Pop / Imap Sep 29, 2008

What kind of email server where you using? POP or IMAP?

If you were using POP, were your emails deleted from the server?


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xxxwonita
China
Local time: 01:42
TOPIC STARTER
Pop Sep 29, 2008

Claudia Alvis wrote:

What kind of email server where you using? POP or IMAP?

If you were using POP, were your emails deleted from the server?


Does that mean, the emails are lost for good?


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Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 23:42
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Spanish
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I don't know Sep 29, 2008

Bin Tiede wrote:

Claudia Alvis wrote:

What kind of email server where you using? POP or IMAP?

If you were using POP, were your emails deleted from the server?


Does that mean, the emails are lost for good?



I don't know that, that depends on your settings. If you were using POP and you had enabled 'delete messages in the server', that means that your emails were deleted. But if you hadn't enabled 'delete', they should still be on the server. Same with IMAP, messages are kept in the server, unless you delete them.

Edit. Can you post more information? Where did you try to find the emails? What kind of account were you using? Do you have a backup?

[Edited at 2008-09-29 17:22]


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Kristina Kolic  Identity Verified
Croatia
Local time: 05:42
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Reformatting erases all data on disk Sep 29, 2008

Well, if you reformatted your hard disk there is a chance that you lost all data previously stored on your hard disk, since reformatting usually erases all data on disk.

I am not sure about Thunderbird, but the example of Outlook Express might give you some clue...

All Outlook Express emails are stored in a special folder (the exact location of the Store Folder can be found on the Maintenance tab under Options in the Tools Menu) and can be easily backed up before any reformatting. In the case of Outlook Express, the default Store Folder is c:\Documents and Settings\xxxxxxx\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\xxxxxx\Microsoft\Outlook Express


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Andrzej Lejman  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:42
German to Polish
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Say goodbye to your e-mails Sep 29, 2008

Reinstalling Thunderbird, you are installing the program only.

But all your actual account data (aacounts and mails) were stored under:

C:\Documents and Settings\user_name\Application data\Thunderbird\Profiles\a_custom_folder_name\Mail

When formatting drive C, you have deleted all these folders.

Sorry.

A.

[Edited at 2008-09-29 18:10]


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Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 23:42
Partial member
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Servers Sep 29, 2008

Andrzej Lejman wrote:
Say goodbye to your e-mails


Not necessarily. That's why I asked you what kind of server did you have. IMAP and POP (with 'delete messages' disabled) don't delete messages in the server. That means that even though the emails are no longer in your computer (if you didn't back-up), they should still in the server. And even if you selected 'delete messages in server', some Email Providers keep a back-up of your emails after you delete them, although not all.


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Andrzej Lejman  Identity Verified
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The opposite Sep 29, 2008

Claudia Alvis wrote:

Andrzej Lejman wrote:
Say goodbye to your e-mails


Not necessarily. That's why I asked you what kind of server did you have. IMAP and POP (with 'delete messages' disabled) don't delete messages in the server. That means that even though the emails are no longer in your computer (if you didn't back-up), they should still in the server. And even if you selected 'delete messages in server', some Email Providers keep a back-up of your emails after you delete them, although not all.


The option is:

keep e-mails on server for xx days
or
until they will be deleted

and it must be enabled.

Whatever, I don't believe she had the option enabled.

Even it would be the case, there is a chance for recovering mails from xx days at the most.

Regards

A.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:42
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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The location of your TB mail, and reimporting your mail Sep 29, 2008

Bin Tiede wrote:
I copied all old files from Vista to XP, reinstalled Thunderbird, following the instructions step by step. But I could neither recover the old mails, nor could I find them in any of the folders.


1. On my XP machine, my TB mail is at this location:
C:\Documents and Settings\MyName\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\8avzaxda.default\Mail\
... and Application Data is normally a hidden folder, even on XP. So you would not have found it unless you knew what to look for and where to look for it.

2. TB has no function to import its own mail. So even if you did keep the "Mail" folder and/or the mail files, you have to follow a very complex procedure to get your mail back. Essentially you must recreate your account in the new TB, and then replace the new Mail folder with your old Mail folder, and hope it works. This is just for reimporting mail... reimporting old settings and address books are ten times worse, requires you to hack certain files, and is far more likely to fail.

I speak from experience, by the way. Your mail is lost, and you have my sympathy.

TB is a stupid mail client, if only because its designers assumed everyone uses an operating system that never reboots, never crashes and never needs reinstallation. And if you do use such an operating system, odds are you're using Evolution anyway.

Do I use TB? Sure, it's the best free mail client you can have on a Windows box.


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Natalie  Identity Verified
Poland
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Moderator of this forum
Not so stupid at all Sep 29, 2008

Samuel Murray wrote:
TB is a stupid mail client, if only because its designers assumed everyone uses an operating system that never reboots, never crashes and never needs reinstallation.


Why not changing the location of the mailboxes? In all my computers the TB mailboxes were always somewhere at F or G partitions.

P.S. Do you always install all programs into C:// ProgramFiles only because that's the default location?



[Edited at 2008-09-29 20:53]


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Natalie  Identity Verified
Poland
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MozBackup Sep 29, 2008

Also, I would recommend using a freeware program, MozBackup, for making backup copies of your mail.

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Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 23:42
Partial member
Spanish
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Here's what I do Sep 29, 2008

Maybe this'll help you and/or others:

I use Thunderbird to manage my emails with an IMAP account to retrieve them. That means that the emails in Thunderbird and on the server are always synchronized; my emails can't be deleted unless I manually delete them. I have to pay $25 annually but it's totally worth the price (Gmail has free IMAP and you can use it with your own mydomain email). If you don't have Broadband, you should use POP, otherwise you won't be able to see your emails when your offline, but make sure your settings won't delete your emails from the server!! (I don't know the exact terminology, but that's the idea.)

Like Natalie said, Thunderbird lets you customize the location of your emails. So all my emails are stored in a directory that I always back up. I use: C:\TRANS\OTHER\Applications\Thunderbird\My Profile\ImapMail\Email Account # 1. In my case, that's a little too much because my emails are already on the server (because of IMAP).

Additionally, again like Natalie said, I use MozBackup to backup all Thunderbird. So when I have to reinstall my system, MozBackup will restore everything (settings, emails, add-ons, email locations), and I just copy my backup folder C:\TRANS\..., which already has all my emails.

I switched computers and I had to reformat my laptop a few times and it's always been a breeze (relatively). You can also use MozBackup to backup Firefox.

I also manually move ALL my emails to Local Folders in Thunderbird, which is also located in C:\TRANS\OTHER\Applications\Thunderbird\My Profile\ImapMail\

About your emails, I'd check your server first before giving up.

Good luck,

Claudia

[Edited at 2008-09-29 21:27]


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Marcelo Silveyra
United States
Local time: 20:42
Member (2007)
German to English
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Question to Bin Tiede / Reimporting your mail - revisited Sep 30, 2008

Bin Tiede: To summarize the gist of this thread and its responses: Did you back up your Thunderbird profile folder? Unfortunately, like everyone has already mentioned, the folder is tricky to find unless you check the Mozilla knowledge base first. In Vista, it would have been under C:\Users\\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles. If you or the person in charge of your backup backed up the profile in this folder, then you still have your old e-mails and can restore them without a problem. If you didn't however, I'm afraid they're gone (sorry!). There is always the remote possibility that your e-mails weren't deleted from the server (although this is highly unlikely if you didn't select that option consciously), so checking with your e-mail service provider is worth a shot.

**If you changed Thunderbird's default mail folder location, which I'm assuming was not the case, then you would have had to back up the mail folder found in that new location.


Samuel Murray wrote:
2. TB has no function to import its own mail. So even if you did keep the "Mail" folder and/or the mail files, you have to follow a very complex procedure to get your mail back. Essentially you must recreate your account in the new TB, and then replace the new Mail folder with your old Mail folder, and hope it works. This is just for reimporting mail... reimporting old settings and address books are ten times worse, requires you to hack certain files, and is far more likely to fail.


I'm assuming that you're following some arcane procedure the likes of which are found in books with titles such as "Thunderbird - Divination and Magick," so I thought I'd just make things easier with a (relatively) simple procedure that backs up and restores mail, old settings, address books, etc. (If you don't want to use MozBackup like Claudia does, that is):

I) Open C:\Documents and Settings\\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles

II) Copy/back up the entire profile folder (it has a .default extension)

III) On the new or reformatted machine, install Thunderbird. Open the application, choose not to import anything, and cancel the setup wizard. Then exit the application.

IV) Open C:\Documents and Settings\\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles on the new/reformatted computer.

V) Open the profile folder (with the .default extension, found under C:\Documents and Settings\\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles) on the new/reformatted computer. Delete everything in it.

VI) Open your backup profile folder and copy all its contents; paste inside the new/reformatted computer's profile folder.

Voilà! Everything (and I mean everything) is restored.

IMPORTANT: Do not simply replace the .default folder with the backup .default profile folder; this will lock Thunderbird up (unlocking it is relatively easy, but that's another story). Make sure to copy the contents directly instead.

[Edited at 2008-09-30 01:01]


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xxxwonita
China
Local time: 01:42
TOPIC STARTER
Lost forever Oct 3, 2008

First of all thank you for your replies, which are much appreciated.

The lost probably occurred when we copied a local folder, assuming that the Thunderbird was copied as well. Vista had refused to have system files copied, to which the Thunderbird belongs. We had not specified Thunderbird's location, therefore the mails are lost.

As to my server, it automatically deletes all the emails in 30 days. Besides, emails sending or receiving from Thunderbird are not saved there, it only keeps mails from the server.

I need only one particular email sent in August, in which I delivered a translation to a French client. Not yet have I received payment for this job. In case of a dispute I only have a purchase order in plain word file, which, theoretically, can be made by anybody.







[Edited at 2008-10-03 15:37]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:42
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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Somewhat off-topic Oct 5, 2008

Natalie wrote:
Why not changing the location of the mailboxes? In all my computers the TB mailboxes were always somewhere at F or G partitions.


I know it is possible to change the location of the mailbox, but can one also change the location of the profile? Backing up the mailbox alone won't save your other settings.

The fact is that you can't import your mail, and you can't export your settings with TB. The only way to do backups, is manually, using the geeky method Marcelo describes. The fact that you can't do that simple procedure automatically from within TB only shows that doing it isn't high on the TB dev team's list of todos.

P.S. Do you always install all programs into C:// ProgramFiles only because that's the default location?


As it happens, I prefer to install only my office programs, my runtime environments and my operating system updates in C:\Program Files\. For all other installers, I change the "C" to either a "D" or an "E" (depending on which computer I'm using). The only advantage this has is that it keeps the C drive relatively clean, and with modern operating systems I'm not even sure if that has any real benefit any more. It also helps because I can format drive D or E (and so get rid of all installed programs) without having to reinstall my office programs or runtime environments (those tend to be big downloads). Force of habit, I guess.


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