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Repaired Inbox but emails completely disappeared.

  • 2 replies
  • 1 has this problem
  • Last reply by Toad-Hall

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I need your help desperately. My emails were not displaying properly so I clicked on repair folder to hopefully help. My Inbox all of a sudden went from thousands of emails to only 20! Is there a way I can find these emails please? I am stressed and dont know what to do!

Please help!



All Replies (2)

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When you click on 'Repair Folder', the index is reset. It checks with actual file containing emails and reindexes to show what is really in the file. It does not delete emails, they were already gone or 'marked as deleted' and hidden.

Do not compact any folder at this point.

In Thunderbird

  • Help > Troubleshooting Information
  • click on 'Open Folder' button

a window opens showing contents of 'profile name' folder.

  • Exit Thunderbird now.

If this is a pop account:

  • click on 'Mail' folder
  • click on pop mail account name folder

If this is an imap account:

  • click on 'ImapMail' folder
  • click on imap mail account name folder

Inbox emails stored on computer will be in an mbox file. Mbox files do not have any extension. If you see Inbox.msf then this is the index file and it does not contain emails.

  • Open the 'Inbox' mbox file using a text editor program like Notepad++.

Emails will be listed one after the other, with the oldest at the top. If the file contains any marked as deleted emails, the following will restore them.

Starting at the top and working down through the file, look for the following line:

  • X-Mozilla-Status:
  • Edit the number so it says 0001

See images below as guide.

  • When completed, save the file.
  • Delete the Inbox.msf file

Start Thunderbird.


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When only the mbox file loses emails, this can occur if an anti-virus product has scanned the file and decided to try to fix something. It does not understand the mbox file contains more than one email. It also has no knowledge of the msf index file, so leaves it alone. Hence why the two can seem out of synch.

I would strongly advise you do not allow scanning of Thunderbird files or at least change the settings in Anti-Virus product so that it asks what to do rather than automatically fix.

It is also possible the file became corrupted. Maybe due to a lack of maintenance. An Inbox is designed to be an Inbox and not a general storage for old emails. When you delete emails, they get marked as deleted and hidden, they have not actually gone at this point. When you compact the folder, those 'marked as deleted' emails are removed and the file cleaned up. If there is corruption in the file, then it is possible the markers could not be read and ended up in a loss of email.

The Inbox is a single mbox text file. It is advisable you do not keep all your emails in one single document. Creating folders to organise older emails for storage is advised as this spreads emails through various files. Also it is advised you create backup every so often.


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