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Un-archiving emails

  • 38 uphendule
  • 1 inale nkinga
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  • Igcine ukuphendulwa ngu jen7

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Hello all! Hopefully one of you genius gurus can help. On advice from GoDaddy (insert eyeroll), I downloaded Thunderbird as their only solution to be able to do a backup without Outlook. Their instructions were quite vague, however, and I wound up creating an archive of the last 13+ years of emails instead of a backup. But now NOTHING shows in the Archive folders in the left menu, although thankfully I was able to find what looks like might be something in the Profiles folder so I'm not completely panicking.

Any chance there's a way to "undo" the archive and restore everything back? I did try "undo", for the record, holding my breath and crossing my fingers in a Hail Mary fashion (after hours of watching it all unfurl) to no avail.

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Did you log into your account via GoDaddy Webmail as instructed? Please do so and check if

  1. The Archive folder and its yearly subfolders were created on the server
  2. They contain the same messages that are visible in Thunderbird
  3. The Inbox on the server still has the messages that were lost in Thunderbird

X-Mozilla-Status: 0001 and X-Mozilla-Status2: 00000000 are OK. If the last digit of the code is lower than 8, then the message is not lost (not deleted). We are interested in the codes whose last digits are 8,9,a,b,c,d,e or f, for example 0009. Using X-Mozilla-Status as the search term should show you all occurences, but ignore those that have codes ending in a digit below 8. If ALL X-Mozilla-Status and X-Mozilla-Status2 codes end with digits below 8 for the inbox, then none of the messages are deleted or lost/invisible and the problem lies elsewhere. We'll know what to do after confirmation. How big is the Inbox file? The screenshot is only showing the Archives, but we're mostly interested in the original location of the lost messages (INBOX) because that is where we are most likely going to recover them from in case they were marked for deletion.

I see the mbox files for the yearly archive folders are fairly sizeable, meaning they contain more messages than Thunderbird is showing. For example, the 2017 and 2018 mbox files are both above 600MB, meaning they contain a good number of messages, but Thunderbird is not showing any of them? Open them just like you did with the INBOX file then search for the X-Mozilla-Status lines and codes ending in 8,9 or the alphabet lettters listed above. If all occurences in all of those mbox files have ending digits below 8, then we don't need to change anything in those mbox files. Report back with what you find so that we can proceed accordingly.

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I'm so sorry. I misunderstood and went to the web-based Thunderbird email to check for the Archives (which were there). I just logged in to the GD webmail and everything looks to be the same over there. I am not sure how to check #3 though (sorry!)--the inbox emails that disappeared from Thunderbird also disappeared from my other methods of accessing emails. The archive folder was created on webmail, however, but it is also containing mostly empty folders with the exception of the 2007 folder.

When I ran the search for the last steps there were zero codes other than 0001/00000000.

The original location (INBOX) in the imapMail folder (from the instructions in the last round) is 3.44GB, the .msf file is 3MB (in case that's useful information).

The yearly archive folders do not show any messages in Thunderbird or webmail/phone app (with the ongoing exception of magical 2007, which contains a handful of messages for some reason). I opened every one of the folders and did the X-Mozilla-Status search and every occurrence was a 0001. (to be clear, I ran the search and the folders had X-hundred or thousand occurrences, then I ran the search with ",-0001" appended, and they all came up with zero occurrences). So that's good? I'm guardedly optimistic!

To be clear, the messages are missing from the general inbox AND yearly archive folders. I think you're already going on that information, I just wanted to make sure to restate it in case I hadn't been clear earlier.

THANK YOU STANS!!

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Alright, now that we know the server side of things look the same as Tbird's side, and that there are no X-mozilla-status codes other than 0001 and 00000000, let's try two more things before we try to extract messages from the large mbox files. Open the profile folder then Quit Thunderbird. Delete ALL the msf files then launch Thunderbird. Report back with the outcome.

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Because I'm completely terrified to mess things up further, I'm going to ask to make SURE I'm doing what you're asking. I'm sorry, please forgive me!

Do you mean go to Thunderbird->Profiles->(a bunch of random characters)default-release->ImapMail and then ANY msf file in that folder including those in subfolders? Should I copy them somewhere first? Related: do the files change while Thunderbird is running (which is why you're asking to quit before deleting files)?

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To make sure you're opening the right profile folder, I suggest you go to Help > Troubleshooting Information > Show in Finder, then quit Thunderbird via Thunderbird > Quit. Of course, you could follow the Thunderbird > Profiles path, but this can be confusing IF there are more than one profile folders in it. You can and should always have a backup copy of the entire profile folder somewhere it can be easily accessed, and you should make such copies while Thunderbird is not running because it's using this folder and its contents when its running. I believe you made a copy of this folder before you opened the mbox files to search for the status codes, correct? Since that copy, you must have received or written new mails, meaning that copy is not up-to-date, so you need to make a new copy. Quiting Tbird should not be an inconvenience since it's just a two-clicks operation.

Now, inside the correct profile folder (not the backup copy, but the original), while Tbird is not running, delete the msf files which are visibly smaller than their corresponding mbox files. The msf files are simply indexing files and they are automatically created by Thunderbird when it's running. Sometimes they get corrupt, so deleting them and relaunching Tbird forces it to create new ones, and is a possible fix to the issue of disappearing messages.

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Ok! I deleted any .msf file I could find in the IMAP folder and restarted. It's still loading (I assume a good sign!) but as of yet it hasn't pulled any new emails into the Archive year folders. I let it run for a few hours just in case, and the folders still look the same (with the exception of a few "new" emails sprinkled in the outer folders (not the archived folders)), all of the Archive year folders except 2008 are still empty.

What now??

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Now, we can attempt extracting (importing) the messages from the mbox files into the Local Folders account. For this, we’ll use an add-on called ‘’’’’ImportExportTools NG’’’’’. Go to Tools > Add-ons to open the Add-ons Manager tab, then type or copy-paste the name of the add-on in the search box at the top and press Enter. A new tab will open with the search results. Click the big green ‘’Add to Thunderbird’’ button to install the add-on. Click Add on the prompt that appears, then click Restart to complete the installation.

Next, create a new folder under the Local Folders account. This is where the imported messages will get saved, so give it a short, meaningful name; for example, “GoDaddy_Backup” since this was the original intent. Now you’re ready to start the importation. I strongly suggest working with the backup copies of the mbox files this time, instead of the ones in the profile folder because the ones in the profile folder are in use while Tbird is running, so right-click the new local folder that you just created and select ImportExportTools NG → Import mbox file.

The first option of the dialog that opens will do just fine, so just click OK. Locate and select the backup copy of the INBOX mbox file and click Open to proceed. If things go as planned, a new INBOX subfolder will appear under the local backup folder with ALL the messages contained in the INBOX mbox file. Repeat the importation, this time selecting the yearly mbox files (you can select them all for importation at once). If all goes well, all your lost messages should be in their respective sub-folders under the Local Folders account.

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Ok!! The new folder looks stocked with old messages!!! For some reason there's a gap, from 4/27/19 to 5/27/20 however. Zero messages in that range at all.

I'm curious about the second part of the instructions, however, won't adding the year folders just be doubling the emails since they were originally the inbox messages? Also, I did a test run of the first folder (2007) and it just created another year folder within the new GoDaddy_backup local folder. Was that correct?

Update note: for fun I tried the 2019 and 2020 archive folders to see if maybe the lost year was there, but it's not.

Okulungisiwe ngu jen7

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jen7 said

Because I'm completely terrified to mess things up further, I'm going to ask to make SURE I'm doing what you're asking. I'm sorry, please forgive me! Do you mean go to Thunderbird->Profiles->(a bunch of random characters).default-release->ImapMail and then ANY msf file in that folder including those in subfolders? Should I copy them somewhere first? Related: do the files change while Thunderbird is running (which is why you're asking to quit before deleting files)?

You had already posted this reply earlier, to which I responded.

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Shoot. I was hoping I caught that before you saw it. I revised the message above.... a refresh of the page resubmitted that message. Sorry!!

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jen7 said

For some reason there's a gap, from 4/27/19 to 5/27/20 however. Zero messages in that range at all.

That would be at least one year of messages.

I'm curious about the second part of the instructions, however, won't adding the year folders just be doubling the emails since they were originally the inbox messages?

Not necessarily. There is a chance some of the messages were successfully moved from the inbox to the archive folder(s), and since that operation was botched, we don't know if the Inbox file still has ALL of the lost messages. You could open the Inbox mbox file in TextEdit just like before and search for 2019 and 2020 dates to see if the missing messages are still in there.

Also, I did a test run of the first folder (2007) and it just created another year folder within the new GoDaddy_backup local folder. Was that correct?

Yes. Importing an mbox file as described above should create a subfolder matching its name, so importing the 2007 mbox file should create a subfolder called 2007 containing the extracted messages.

Update note: for fun I tried the 2019 and 2020 archive folders to see if maybe the lost year was there, but it's not.

Are those two completely empty? They are relatively small compared to the others.

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So far the year folders look like they have MOSTLY all the same emails as the inbox--a couple of the years have *fewer* emails than the corresponding timeframe in the inbox, some have *more*. I did notice that the number in the sidebar next to the folder does not correspond directly to how many messages are actually inside the folder, which seems strange. The number in the sidebar is generally a good bit higher than the number of emails I can see or select inside the actual folder.

The 2019 and 2020 folders are not empty. there's only a handful in the 2019 folder, but almost 500 in 2020.

In case useful: Drill down of discrepancy between number of emails inside independent year folders/for corresponding timespan in overall inbox (2008 164/103, 2009 580/575, 2010 736/735, 2011 234/234, 2012 574/570, 2013 1978/1959, 2014 3559/3497, 2015 5305/5256, 2016 5825/5740, 2017 3497/3435, 2018 4171/4185, 2019 20/32, 2020 455/1133)

Drill down of discrepancy between number of emails inside independent year folders/listed in sidebar (2008 164/218, 2009 580/591, 2010 736/768, 2011 234/302, 2012 574/661, 2013 1978/2135, 2014 3559/3805, 2015 5305/5870, 2016 5825/6915, 2017 3497/4368, 2018 4171/5787, 2019 20/22, 2020 455/592)

(sorry to potentially throw a wrench in the works)

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I don't know why the folder pane Total column shows different numbers from the actual number of visible messages in the folders, assuming Thunderbird is configured to display ALL messages. Go to View > Threads > All, just in case it isn't already set to show all messages. If that doesn't change anything, you could rebuild the index again by deleting all msf files from the profile folder while Tbird is not running then restart, or you could do the same withint Tbird by repairing each folder individually by right-click > Properties > Repair Folder. You can also try to compact those folders first via right-click > Compact, then repair them. Restart Thunderbird and see if anything changes.

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Weird. All threads was already selected, and repairing folders didn't change anything.

I'm ok with ignoring this issue in the interest of the bigger picture (unless there's something quick and easy you've remembered since the last message). More importantly, do we think the missing emails from 2019-2020 are gone for good? And what's the next step to restoring everything back in its original inbox location?

Have I mentioned lately how thankful I am for your big brain and helpful spirit?

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Well, to restore the recovered messages back to the Inbox, you simply copy them in small batches of no more than 1000 messages to the IMAP Inbox folder. If you copy them all at once, the process may get botched like it did with the archiving and mess things again. I suggest you delete the Inbox mbox file from the profile folder while Tbird isn't running, then restart Tbird so that it creates a new Inbox mbox file, then proceed to restore the recovered messages into the IMAP Inbox folder. The new inbox mbox file will then store the recovered messages once the restoration is completed.

As for the missing messages, we can't say for sure if they are permanently lost or not until a closer look at the old inbox mbox file is done. Like I said before, you could open the mbox file (the most recent backup copy of the old mbox file) and search for the missing messages using known dates that fall within that time frame. If you can find one such message in the mbox file, you may be able to extract them using other mbox extraction tools.

However, if those messages got deleted from the mbox file and/or server before they could be copied to their respective archive folder, then they are gone for good.

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Update: I've been taking the opportunity to pare down the mass of emails, so the process is taking considerably longer than it probably should. HOWEVER, I'm happy to report it all seems to be working well! Today, however, When I moved the first chunk of messages to the inbox there were no running status reports at the bottom of the screen and it appeared as though nothing was happening. I waited several minutes, watching diligently, and still nothing. After awhile I picked a random message an went to the inbox to search and it popped up (on the right it appeared to be both in the inbox AND still in the archive folder). Should I delete the mbox file again since it's been a few days that I've been working at it? Would that mess everything up?

Thanks again, Stans. If you're in the US have a fantastic holiday weekend! You've been so incredibly helpful and patient!

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jen7 said

Today, however, When I moved the first chunk of messages to the inbox there were no running status reports at the bottom of the screen and it appeared as though nothing was happening. I waited several minutes, watching diligently, and still nothing. After awhile I picked a random message an went to the inbox to search and it popped up (on the right it appeared to be both in the inbox AND still in the archive folder). Should I delete the mbox file again since it's been a few days that I've been working at it? Would that mess everything up?

When you say "moved", do you actually mean you used the Move To option? If so, and the moved messages were not removed from the local folders, you can simply delete them AFTER confirming that they have indeed been copied back to the IMAP Inbox folder. Before you manually delete them from the local folders, compact then repair the local folders and see if the messages still remain in them after being moved to Inbox.

You can monitor the tasks that Thunderbird is carrying out IF the status bar doesn't show signs of anything going on. Go to Tools > Activity Manager. This will open the Activity Manager from where you can actually see what is happening. If Thunderbird is moving 1000 messages from local folder to inbox, you'll see it happening there.

Don't delete the IMAP Inbox mbox file again. Doing so will only task Thunderbird more because it will then have to synchronise (re-download) all the messages that are in the IMAP Inbox folder.

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I'm sorry. I should be more precise with my explanation terms of what I'm doing. Yes, I meant that I was using the "Move To" option.

It *does* look like the messages are in the inbox, but opening the Activity Manager as suggested did not show any movement happening (or record of the "Move To" actions). I opted to quit and restart Thunderbird, and it crashed (I submitted comments on the crash report in case anyone reads those or it's helpful). Now open again it seems to be working, and showing the action in Activity Manager. But after just one batch (staying conservative with only about 500 messages at a time) it's back to not performing any movement (or showing anything at all in the Activity Manager) when I attempt to move a second batch (with the "Move To" option). After a second restart of Thunderbird everything was acting like it should, messages were moving to the inbox (and deleting from the archive folder) and status of the transfer was showing on the bottom info bar as well as in the Activity Monitor. I'm reporting all of this in case it helps you or anyone else in the future who might run into these issues.

Now to search for the missing emails... should I find that there are some in the hugemongous mbox file then what?

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