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I have a thunderbird inbox problem - older messages keep disappearing - how do I get them back?

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  • 6 zinale nkinga
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  • Igcine ukuphendulwa ngu Marlene LeSuer

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Since i swopped to a new laptop I have had this problem with my inbox (but not with my sent folder) - older inbox messages just disappear without me deleting them. I have had the latop since September , but this morning only had inbox messages back to 2nd Dec then today even more have disappeared - I now only have back to 28th December! I need these emails for work and to refer back to - rather difficult to refer back when thunderbird deletes them! I never had this problem on my old laptop where messages only disappeared if i chose to delete them!

Isisombululo esikhethiwe

You took a wrong turn with using MailStore. You don't need to put your e-mail address and password in the program, just click on "Mozilla Thunderbird" on the Archive E-mail page.

I have sent you a private message.

Funda le mpendulo ngokuhambisana nalesi sihloko 👍 0

All Replies (12)

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Bruce and Tonnes - thanks for all your help over my problem - you have both been incredibly helpful and patient with me as a relative amateur at this stuff.

The only thing left i need to ask from one of you is please can you explain the easiest way for me to copy my inbox from my old laptop to my new laptop. I know i need to put it on an external hard drive, but what is the method i need to use to copy them all across please in easy language for me. Then I think I will be 100% fixed and will be able to stop using my old laptop.

Thanks again in advance!

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davegrundy said

The only thing left i need to ask from one of you is please can you explain the easiest way for me to copy my inbox from my old laptop to my new laptop. I know i need to put it on an external hard drive, but what is the method i need to use to copy them all across please in easy language for me. Then I think I will be 100% fixed and will be able to stop using my old laptop.

That would be my instructions for using MailStore Home which I gave earlier in this discussion thread.

If you would like me to send you these instructions again in a personal message, then click my name on the left here, then when you see my profile info, choose either "Private Message", or click on my e-mail address to contact me directly.

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Bruce and Tonnes - I followed the instructions Bruce gave and unchecked all the boxes on the Server Settings on my old laptop as shown inside his yellow box in his screen capture. And expected that to work - only to find that my entire inbox on my new laptop has been wiped now! So, it didn't quite work!!

But i believe I know why - so I have now gone back to this table on my old laptop and have done the following to my server settings: 1. I have now put a tick in the box next to 'Leave messages on server' 2. I have left the next box unticked next to 'for at most 14 days' 3. I have now put a tick in the box next to 'until I delete them'

I believe this will now work OK? Is there a way that i can test whether this is working?

Now the final thing to sort if the above is OK is for me to copy my inbox from my old laptop. Bruce suggests doing this via the Mail Store option. I will have a try at that tomorrow (as it's getting late now!) and see if I can get it working. I'll let you know how I get on with it.

Thanks to both of you.

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Zenos - thanks for your helpful suggestions - it has taken me a while to get sorted but I think I am nearly there - thanks to Bruce and Tonnes who have been helping me for a couple of days.

I have just mailed them with where i am up to and yes you are right the 2 laptops are different - the older one on POP and the newer one on IMAP. I hope i am close to a solution with server settings altered. I now need to copy emails from my old laptop inbox to the new one and fingers crossed i will manage to follow their instructions. I hope that IMAP will cope with a larger inbox than i did have (14 days).

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davegrundy said

I followed the instructions Bruce gave and unchecked all the boxes on the Server Settings on my old laptop as shown inside his yellow box in his screen capture. And expected that to work - only to find that my entire inbox on my new laptop has been wiped now! So, it didn't quite work!! But i believe I know why - so I have now gone back to this table on my old laptop and have done the following to my server settings:
1. I have now put a tick in the box next to 'Leave messages on server'
2. I have left the next box unticked next to 'for at most 14 days'
3. I have now put a tick in the box next to 'until I delete them'

I believe this will now work OK? Is there a way that i can test whether this is working?

Excellent, you should be there now. Unticking all options under Server Settings as Bruce wrote in the end wasn’t quite right and may have been confusing, and this is why the entire box is wiped out. I assume he intended to write all options under "Leave messages on server" should be unticked, OR all options below Server Settings except for "Leave messages on server" only. You probably don’t even need to test it.

Sorry for writing this and I’m not trying to be offensive, but this particular setting to Leave messages on server already came up in one of christ1’s post on page 1 in this topic ("Assuming it's POP, do you leave messages on the server?", then remained unanswered), then 6 times on page 2, and now there is even a page 3 for this topic.
Admitted, I did not mention the "for at most x days" option below it, but it makes sense to assume everyone who reads "Leave messages on server" followed by "for at most x days" understands what it means and what it is intended for (= allowing other POP clients to retrieve the same messages for a period of time before they are allowed to get removed by one of those clients). Additionally, the "Until I delete them" option exists to override the parent option for messages a user really wants to delete, such as spam, doesn’t it? It seems you do understand all this by now. :)

Now the final thing to sort if the above is OK is for me to copy my inbox from my old laptop. Bruce suggests doing this via the Mail Store option. I will have a try at that tomorrow (as it's getting late now!) and see if I can get it working. I'll let you know how I get on with it.

Personally I would set up the same account as POP on the new machine according to the exact same and proper settings, and then copy the old machine’s mailbox content from its profile folder for that POP account only. But again, you may find this harder than setting up and using Mailstore.

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Tonnes - thanks for your reply this morning.

You mention that Christ1 had already mentioned some of this in his early comments on this support group. This I am sure is true and I am sure he is very skilled at knowing all this thunderbird stuff. The problem I had was that he launched straight into very complicated language, which was too hard for me as a beginner to understand. In contrast you and Bruce have taken me there at a slower pace and even with the stuff you have helped me with i haven't understood it all! The additional problem then with Christ1 was that if i didn't understand a point then he would get condescending and bordering on rude In contrast you and Bruce have been nothing but friendly and helpful with my problems even when you might have been frustrated if i didn't understand something that for you might have been simple.

I will now look back at your instructions for copying the inbox from my old laptop and also at Bruce's using the Mail Store. I'm not an expert, so i don't know which is the best of the 2 options from a practical point of view - I'm guessing both will have good end results. So, I will pick the option that to me appears the easiest to carry out.. Once I've had a go at this i will get back to you both to let you know how I have got on.

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It seemed like Mailstore was the easiest option of the 2 - as the other option sounds very hard!

I have struggled to get as far as I have got on this course and this is not very far! (It doesn't help that 1/4 of my keys don't work on my old laptop!)

I think I have got mailstore on my external hard drive OK and I am now trying to archive emails on my old laptop. But I have got stuck at the first hurdle!

I can't stand passwords because i can never remember them so I then get asked to change them and every device is supposed to have a different one on it. And I'm guessing the password is wrong?

I've got to the first window in this process - I've definitely filled in my email address correctly, I've put the server type down as POP3 - which i think is right?

I then looked in my thunderbird server settings and found server name was mail.btinternet.com and user name was xxxxxx

I then typed in the password that i thought was correct and then tried several other different possibilites. The programme then takes time to test settings and then it comes up with an error message whatever i try!

The error message says Mailstore was unable to access your email account. Please check the account settings. Details: Authentication failed. Check user name and password. The server returned: [AUTH] invalid user or password

And I can't get past that - help!? If only there was an easy way!?

Okulungisiwe ngu davegrundy

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All this is what you could encouter and why I’d prefer copying existing profiles when switching machines. Login issues can have various reasons and may take additional time to solve.

I’m sorry, but I can’t help you with Mailstore since it would be totally new to me and to be honest, I think it is gonna take some time to make things work for you for the same reason. Btw, note that you posted your user name again, so maybe edit the message?

Let us know if you do appreciate steps to copy the profile data. I’ll try to make them as short as possible and add useful comments only when needed, or even avoid that if you’re OK with it in order to minimize text.

To give you a rough idea:

  1. You would need to set up the same account on your new machine using POP, similar to how it is set up on the old machine. Everything would be identical in both Thunderbirds then, except for messages missing on the new machine (and some folder on disk may have a different name, but you won’t notice).
  2. Since you would have 2 identical setups for the POP account then, you would only need to copy the old machine’s (up-to-date, right?) mailbox folder for the POP account, which is one folder with a similar name (including its subfolders).
  3. When done, content for both POP setups should be identical on both machines. You can then drag messages from that POP account to the (existing) IMAP account within Thunderbird on the new machine, after which these message should be copied back to the server automatically.

You do need to understand however that the 8 subfolders under your Inbox for the account set up as POP mean that their messages are stored locally on the old machine (since POP does not know of any subfolders - you should now know that POP is just about "fetch and go, or leave a copy for others if needed", almost similar to a post office), but IMAP on the other hand does know, allowing several clients to access the same data/folders. This means that anything copied to the same folder structure under the new IMAP account in Thunderbird will be available on the server and for other clients.

Therefor, if you decide to keep some messages outside your server mailbox in the IMAP setup, i.e. only locally, you should drag them to the Local Folders account in Thunderbird instead (bottom left), so they don’t need to be copied back to the server either. Since you already have some message filters and hence folders set up, that should not be a problem for you. *

You could have a look at this support article for some instructions that would be similar. That article is about switching from a POP to an IMAP setup, but as said, you would only need to set up the POP account again beforehand.

I don’t expect any password issues, but since stored passwords reside in a file outside the copied folder in step 2, you can easily view them using Options > Security > Passwords tab > Saved Passwords on the laptop, and you’ll probably need to enter them once.

* Come to think of it, you will need to set up your message filters again for the IMAP account, since they are account specific in the first place, and folder locations will be different.

That said, have you considered using POP on the new machine only instead of IMAP, so that you would basically continue like you would on the old machine? If you were happy with that, don’t care about messages being available to other devices, and feel (more) confident with the way things worked there, you would only need to do steps 1 and 2, and you could even remove the IMAP account afterwards in Thunderbird instead if everything is OK.

If you have given that a thought and decide to use POP only, you might as well consider copying the entire profile instead of just for the POP account you would need to set up. There should be no password issues then (provided that no firewall or security software will complain) and the IMAP setup would be gone already. The latter is important in case you already have messages in the IMAP setup not available on the old machine, including sent messages. The choice is entirely up to you.

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OK so, I tried the 'easier' option - which was to use the mail store and due to my own inability have reached a dead end.

So my only alternative is to try the option that you are recommending. I haven't a clue how to do that and don't understand quite a lot of what you are saying. I also don't know whether I am better swopping to POP or staying with IMAP. My suggestion is that I need to do whatever is easiest and possible in the least amount of steps.

Is there any chance you could take me through telling me what to do with this step by step and then I can let you know how i get on. I'm beginning to wish that i had just swopped to microsoft from the start as this is so difficult and takes so long to sort out. But now I suppose I'm stuck with thunderbird as I have come so far. Please can you make suggestions as simple as possible for me to do all of this and hopefully i might manage it, though i haven't much confidence!

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Isisombululo Esikhethiwe

You took a wrong turn with using MailStore. You don't need to put your e-mail address and password in the program, just click on "Mozilla Thunderbird" on the Archive E-mail page.

I have sent you a private message.

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Thank you to Tonnes and Bruce - you have both been really helpful. I have now got my inbox problem sorted and also have a copy of all my old inbox and sent mails on my new laptop and that is all thanks to your great help - thanks! It was a difficult problem to solve for someone like me and I'm not a computer expert - so I'm very grateful to their help. I was considering swopping to microsoft outlook, but they saved me from all of that - so well done to them both.

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Just a heads up to others reading this thread: check to make sure your problem is actually with Thunderbird before you go through all these complicated steps.

I recently noticed that all of my emails beyond 180 days were gone. I've spent several days on forums and trying to implement the recommendations. In the end, it was my mail carrier (??) windstream.net that was the problem...their new policy is to delete messages from the inbox and outbox more than 180 days old (unless they are copied into subfolders)

I am sad for all the deletions...but at least I found the source of my problem.

Okulungisiwe ngu Marlene LeSuer

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