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Backing up mailbox

  • 20 replies
  • 1 has this problem
  • 133 views
  • Last reply by VetUser

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I can't back-up my mailbox.

  • I have the same problem as in the question from markosv63 8/19/20, 10:01 PM (now archived) in that I have many emails in many folders.
  • The procedure recommended to markosv63 doesn't work. That procedure is in https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/imap-synchronization#w_configuring-synchronization-and-disk-space-usage.
  • I don't think I use an imap account because my server type is POP Mail - Port 110 (default).
  • I followed exactly the recommended procedure but the result was a folder marked updates, containing a folder marked 8216C80C92C4E828.
  • 8216C80C92C4E828 contains a folder marked updates plus two files, one file called update-config.json and the other called updates. This updates folder contains an empty folder marked 0 plus two files, marked backup-update and last-update.
  • None of these files or folders contains any emails.
I can't back-up my mailbox. * I have the same problem as in the question from markosv63 8/19/20, 10:01 PM (now archived) in that I have many emails in many folders. * The procedure recommended to markosv63 doesn't work. That procedure is in https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/imap-synchronization#w_configuring-synchronization-and-disk-space-usage. * I don't think I use an imap account because my server type is POP Mail - Port 110 (default). * I followed exactly the recommended procedure but the result was a folder marked updates, containing a folder marked 8216C80C92C4E828. * 8216C80C92C4E828 contains a folder marked updates plus two files, one file called update-config.json and the other called updates. This updates folder contains an empty folder marked 0 plus two files, marked backup-update and last-update. * None of these files or folders contains any emails.

Chosen solution

VetUser said

1) Thank you again, Stans. After your most recent explanation, I did eventually find most of my email messages in the backed-up folder. But I can't find the attachments to those emails. 2) My difficulty in finding the emails themselves was because the immense amount of information that is added to the text of the emails – such as: X-Account-Key: account1 X-UIDL: 15581 X-Mozilla-Status: 0011 X-Mozilla-Status2: 00000000, etc, etc, etc. I assume this is the result of the MBox format, but there is so much of it that one doesn't see the the emails themselves until one knows where to look. 3) Please tell me if I have missed finding the attachments or if they really aren't there.

The attachments are there, encoded in text form. When Thunderbird (or any other program that can read the mbox format) loads the messages, it also decodes the attachments from text form to their respective formats.

4) You say “Opening the mbox file using a text editor is not an intuitive way of reading your backed up messages as you'll soon find out after you open one using Notepad.” But isn't Notepad a text editor?

I also said, "It's a plain-text file that you can open using a text editor like Notepad."

5) If the backed-up folder is restored, will it re-format the emails into the original Thunderbird (.eml) format?

Thunderbird's default format is mbox (NOT eml) so NO, it won't reformat the messages from mbox to eml.

If you prefer to save or backup your messages in eml format instead, then you can do so by selecting the messages you wish to save and use the Save As > File option in Thunderbird's menu, or press the Ctrl+S keyboard shortcut, then specify the target location. It's tedious if you have several folders of messages to backup, since you literally have to open each folder, select messages and specify target locations. This is why it's much easier and faster to simply backup the Thunderbird (profile) folder and keep it for future restoration if the need ever arises.

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VetUser said

I can't back-up my mailbox.
  • I have the same problem as in the question from markosv63 8/19/20, 10:01 PM (now archived) in that I have many emails in many folders.

Post the link to that question, I can't find such a user.

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I don't understand your reply, Stans. The user (me) is VetUser. The full text of my question (11 lines) is on https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/questions/ . Here it is again: I have the same problem as in the question from markosv63 8/19/20, 10:01 PM (now archived) in that I have many emails in many folders. The procedure recommended to markosv63 doesn't work. That procedure is in https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/imap-synchronization#w_configuring-synchronization-and-disk-space-usage. I don't think I use an imap account because my server type is POP Mail - Port 110 (default). I followed exactly the recommended procedure but the result was a folder marked updates, containing a folder marked 8216C80C92C4E828. 8216C80C92C4E828 contains a folder marked updates plus two files, one file called update-config.json and the other called updates. This updates folder contains an empty folder marked 0 plus two files, marked backup-update and last-update. None of these files or folders contains any emails.

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You wrote, twice,
I have the same problem as in the question from markosv63
, but I can't find a user named markosv63 nor their question here at SUMO, so I instructed you to post the link to that question (markosv63's question) in which a procedure that you
followed exactly
was
recommended to markosv63
, but didn't work for you. Instead, the link you posted is for a Knowledge Base article about IMAP synchronization, but you don't use IMAP.
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You clicked the wrong button and opened the wrong folder. The procedure says:

Under 'Application Basics' section click on 'Open Folder' button located to the right of 'Profile Folder'

You clicked the button located to the right of Update Folder instead.

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Still doesn't work. Now I made sure that I clicked on the 'Open Folder' button located to the right of 'Profile Folder', not the Update Folder. The result was a folder named i8z07d2d.default, which contains 13 folders plus a large number of files. The 13 folders have names from blocklists to storage. But none of them contain my emails.

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The procedure says:

Go up the directory three clicks so you are in the 'Roaming' folder Copy the 'Thunderbird' folder and paste it into a suitable location eg: external harddrive. Backup completed. All profiles, mail accounts, emails, address books, message filters etc. Start Thunderbird.

Follow the procedure again, slowly, paying attention to detail, now that you know what the right folder/path is. See Profiles - Where Thunderbird stores your messages and other user data

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That's exactly what I did just before I replied at 12:10 PM, following the procedure (also as you described) in detail. I described the results in my reply of 12:10 PM.

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Everything you need to do to backup your Thunderbird mailbox has been described in that archived question. All you have to do is copy the Thunderbird folder found in C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming and paste it in your target backup location, while Thunderbird is NOT running (Quit Thunderbird first). To restore the backup, simply copy it back to its original location. This folder contains your Thunderbird profile (all of Thunderbird's important data, including your emails). It doesn't get any easier and faster than that, but it seems you have your own idea of what you should be doing instead. The link I gave in my previous post clearly states "Where Thunderbird stores your messages..."

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Thank you Stans for trying to help me. But I do not have my "own idea" of what I should be doing. I have repeatedly followed (carefully and slowly) what I think is the EXACT procedure you describe. It is not a difficult procedure to follow. Perhaps you can help me to find out whether and where I have deviated from that procedure? Also, I can't see how the link that you mention ("Profiles - Where Thunderbird stores your messages and other user data") would help me - it contains a section "Where is my profile stored?", which gives the same location as does your procedure. The link lists the same procedure. Perhaps the problem is if profiles store only local mail, whereas my mail is in a private account on Thunderbird. Or if the procedure is for a different version of Thunderbird - I have version 78.14.0 (32-bit).

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VetUser said

Perhaps the problem is if profiles store only local mail, whereas my mail is in a private account on Thunderbird. Or if the procedure is for a different version of Thunderbird - I have version 78.14.0 (32-bit).

Perhaps the problem is your expectation of what the outcome of the procedure should be. I'll say it again; Everything you need to do to backup your Thunderbird mailbox is copy the Thunderbird folder found in C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming and paste it in your target backup location, while Thunderbird is NOT running (Quit Thunderbird first).

That's it. The result is you end up with a copy of the Thunderbird folder in whatever your backup location is. That folder contains ALL the emails (among other data) that Thunderbird has downloaded for ALL accounts that you've configured in Thunderbird regardless of account type. Are you expecting to see something else after following that simple copy-paste process? Perhaps you expect to see a lot of single files that correspond to each message you've downloaded via Thunderbird?

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You don't need to say it again – I followed several times exactly the procedure that you described earlier. That is: in Thunderbird Help, go to Troubleshooting Information under the 'Application Basics' section click on 'Open Folder' button located to the right of 'Profile Folder' exit Thunderbird paste the profile folder into my external hard drive.

My expectation is to get copies of my emails onto my external hard drive. I don't expect to see a lot of single files that correspond to each message, but I do expect to see the emails themselves, together with the “From”, “ subject”, “To” and date information the for each.

The results of exactly following that procedure are: My profile folder is apparently named “i8z07d2d.default”. i8z07d2d.default contains a number of folders, one of which is named “Mail”. “Mail” contains 2 folders: “Local Folders” and “mail.axxess.co.za.” “Local Folders” doesn't seem to have anything of use for finding copies of my emails. “mail.axxess.co.za” does contain folders that correspond to the folders in my email account. These corresponding folders in “mail.axxess.co.za” each has an .sbd extension – for example, “Address.sbd”. Each of the folders in “mail.axxess.co.za” contains two files, e.g. “2019 Address” and “2019 Address.msf”. “mail.axxess.co.za” also contains files that correspond to the folders in my email account, for example “Address” and “Address .msf”. But I don't know how to open files such as “Address” or “Address .msf” and I doubt whether such a file can contain all the subfolders and emails in my Thunderbird account.

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A free application very helpful for backup emails for TB <=78 or Tb 91 is mailstore free application. Try it and I believe that you'll solve your problem.

https://www.mailstore.com/en/support/downloads-and-resources/#mailstore-spe

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Thank you for the suggestion but I haven't managed to use it to backup my mailbox. I installed Mailstore Home and followed these steps: Install > Mailstore Home > Start Page > Archive E-Mail > E-mail account > Start > (inserted email my address). It then requested a password but I don't have any password for Mailstore.

Previously I followed the procedure described in Mozilla support. I suspect now that I was actually successful in backing up my Thunderbird profile but that the procedure doesn't result in actual copies of the emails. Perhaps the backed-up folder has to be restored to the computer before the emails can be read.

The procedure in Mozilla support that I used was: Start > C:\Users\(my username)\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles\ > Shut down Thunderbird > Copy the profile folder (which was i8z07d2d.default) > Paste into my external hard drive. From: (https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/profiles-where-thunderbird-stores-user-data#w_backing-up-a-profile).

My suspicion that the procedure doesn't result in actual copies of the emails is supported by the section “Files and folders in the profile” in http://kb.mozillazine.org/Profile_folder_-_Thunderbird. That page lists and describes all the folders and files that appear in the backed-up folder. None of those appears to contain the actual emails.

Please tell me if I am correct in thinking that the backup procedure (before restoring) doesn't result in the actual emails, nor does archiving the mailbox with Mailstore do so.

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Mailstore needs your usename and password of the provider account. i.e. google account user name and password

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VetUser said

Previously I followed the procedure described in Mozilla support. I suspect now that I was actually successful in backing up my Thunderbird profile but that the procedure doesn't result in actual copies of the emails. Perhaps the backed-up folder has to be restored to the computer before the emails can be read. The procedure in Mozilla support that I used was: Start > C:\Users\(my username)\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles\ > Shut down Thunderbird > Copy the profile folder (which was i8z07d2d.default) > Paste into my external hard drive. From: (https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/profiles-where-thunderbird-stores-user-data#w_backing-up-a-profile). My suspicion that the procedure doesn't result in actual copies of the emails is supported by the section “Files and folders in the profile” in http://kb.mozillazine.org/Profile_folder_-_Thunderbird. That page lists and describes all the folders and files that appear in the backed-up folder. None of those appears to contain the actual emails. Please tell me if I am correct in thinking that the backup procedure (before restoring) doesn't result in the actual emails, nor does archiving the mailbox with Mailstore do so.

As has been said already, your Thunderbird profile folder contains all the messages you've downloaded using Thunderbird, and having backed up the profile folder effectively backed up your mailbox as well. Inside your profile folder there are two subfolders named ImapMail and Mail. ImapMail is used to store messages for IMAP mailboxes (which you don't use in Tbird) while Mail is used for POP mailboxes and local folders. The files used by Thunderbird to store the messages are MBOX files (MBOX format).

Each of the folders in “mail.axxess.co.za” contains two files, e.g. “2019 Address” and “2019 Address.msf”. “mail.axxess.co.za” also contains files that correspond to the folders in my email account, for example “Address” and “Address .msf”.

The "2019 Address" is the mbox file for your 2019 Address folder. This is where Tbird stores your 2019 Address messages. It's a plain-text file that you can open using a text editor like Notepad. Subfolders have a .sbd suffix in their name. The .msf file is just an index file for the corresponding mbox file. Opening the mbox file using a text editor is not an intuitive way of reading your backed up messages as you'll soon find out after you open one using Notepad.

What file format did you expect to see after backing up your Tbird profile? I believe that is the source of your problem. You say you don't expect a bunch of files for each message, so what is it you expect to see after backing up your mailbox?

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1) Thank you again, Stans. After your most recent explanation, I did eventually find most of my email messages in the backed-up folder. But I can't find the attachments to those emails.

2) My difficulty in finding the emails themselves was because the immense amount of information that is added to the text of the emails – such as: X-Account-Key: account1 X-UIDL: 15581 X-Mozilla-Status: 0011 X-Mozilla-Status2: 00000000, etc, etc, etc. I assume this is the result of the MBox format, but there is so much of it that one doesn't see the the emails themselves until one knows where to look.

3) Please tell me if I have missed finding the attachments or if they really aren't there.

4) You say “Opening the mbox file using a text editor is not an intuitive way of reading your backed up messages as you'll soon find out after you open one using Notepad.” But isn't Notepad a text editor?

5) If the backed-up folder is restored, will it re-format the emails into the original Thunderbird (.eml) format?

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Chosen Solution

VetUser said

1) Thank you again, Stans. After your most recent explanation, I did eventually find most of my email messages in the backed-up folder. But I can't find the attachments to those emails. 2) My difficulty in finding the emails themselves was because the immense amount of information that is added to the text of the emails – such as: X-Account-Key: account1 X-UIDL: 15581 X-Mozilla-Status: 0011 X-Mozilla-Status2: 00000000, etc, etc, etc. I assume this is the result of the MBox format, but there is so much of it that one doesn't see the the emails themselves until one knows where to look. 3) Please tell me if I have missed finding the attachments or if they really aren't there.

The attachments are there, encoded in text form. When Thunderbird (or any other program that can read the mbox format) loads the messages, it also decodes the attachments from text form to their respective formats.

4) You say “Opening the mbox file using a text editor is not an intuitive way of reading your backed up messages as you'll soon find out after you open one using Notepad.” But isn't Notepad a text editor?

I also said, "It's a plain-text file that you can open using a text editor like Notepad."

5) If the backed-up folder is restored, will it re-format the emails into the original Thunderbird (.eml) format?

Thunderbird's default format is mbox (NOT eml) so NO, it won't reformat the messages from mbox to eml.

If you prefer to save or backup your messages in eml format instead, then you can do so by selecting the messages you wish to save and use the Save As > File option in Thunderbird's menu, or press the Ctrl+S keyboard shortcut, then specify the target location. It's tedious if you have several folders of messages to backup, since you literally have to open each folder, select messages and specify target locations. This is why it's much easier and faster to simply backup the Thunderbird (profile) folder and keep it for future restoration if the need ever arises.

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Stans offers good advice.

An alternative you might try that should work for version 78 is https://addons.thunderbird.net/en-US/thunderbird/addon/importexporttools-ng/

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Thank you, Lampros, for your suggestion of Mailstore (https://www.mailstore.com/en/support/downloads-and-resources/#mailstore-spe) and to Wayne Mery for the suggestion of importexporttools-ng (https://addons.thunderbird.net/en-US/thunderbird/addon/importexporttools-ng/). I think the latter needs Mozilla Firefox to open, which I don't have. But in any case, Stans has provided the solution and I have now found my emails in the backed-up folder, so I don't need Mailstore or importexporttools at present.