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outlook express

lizzards
Newbie
Posts: 5
Registered: 12-08-2007

outlook express

I use outlook express for my email. I do tend to keep a lot in the inbox folder. The other morning I logged in to Outlook express to find that the only mail in the inbox was that which had arrived that morning. Everything that had been in the inbox the night before, perhaps 150 mails, had disappeared. I have found a .dbx file named deleted items which seems to date from the time that I shut down the computer that night.
But I have tried to open this file and several other dbx ones without success. Any ideas whats happened here?How and where does outlook express store files?
Thanks
11 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 4,844
Thanks: 120
Fixes: 24
Registered: 14-07-2009

Re: outlook express

Yes, that happens sometimes.  The default location for the file store is C:\Documents and Settings\<User>\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{GUID}\Microsoft\Outlook Express .  Your inbox is a file called inbox.dbx but it won't open on its own.  Have a look for a file called inbox.bak, possibly in your recycle bin.  If you can find a backup copy of the inbox it may be possible to recover your lost files. 
Community Veteran
Posts: 14,469
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: outlook express

I would suggest you make a copy of all the files in the outlook express folder BEFORE doing anything, in case you mess things up and lose everything.
lizzards
Newbie
Posts: 5
Registered: 12-08-2007

Re: outlook express

Many thanks for taking the time.
I've copied that whole outlook ex folder to an external hard drive just in case.
I cannot find anywhere on the computer any inbox.bak folders only .dbx ones.
I do have some deleted items.bak folders. How do I open them and what with?
Do you think then that my mail has just disappeared into the ether and there is no hope?
How would I stop that happeningagain? And should I be using a different post office?
Thanks
Community Veteran
Posts: 4,844
Thanks: 120
Fixes: 24
Registered: 14-07-2009

Re: outlook express

Quote from: lizzards
Do you think then that my mail has just disappeared into the ether and there is no hope?
How would I stop that happeningagain?

Outlook Express files are continually being opened, changed and closed.  If one of them becomes corrupt then OE may create a new file of the same name and the original contents are lost.  From time to time OE will try to compact its store "folders".  This operation is fraught with risk but it's also risky not to compact the "folders".  The act of compaction should generate a .bak copy of the file before it was compacted.  It might be possible to rescue data from a .bak folder by changing the name to .dbx and then importing into OE.  There is no way of stopping this happening again with OE but you can mitigate the effects by making frequent backup copies of the store folder.

Quote from: lizzards
I've copied that whole outlook ex folder to an external hard drive just in case.

Very wise
Quote from: lizzards
I do have some deleted items.bak folders. How do I open them and what with?

See above but I don't think it's worth it.  These are just old copies of your deleted items folder.
Quote from: lizzards
And should I be using a different post office?

Microsoft's current offering is Windows Live Mail.  This will run on XP and has the advantage over OE of a junk email filter.
lizzards
Newbie
Posts: 5
Registered: 12-08-2007

Re: outlook express

Thanks again.
I shall have a little play around with those ideas but not with much hope.
Incidentally I have just inherited another computer from my father and have just checked out his mail system on outlook express.
I've just done a compact all folders on it and it has turned them all into .bak folders. But these folders have all been sent to the recycle bin!!!Surely thats not right?
Perhaps thats whats been happening to mine!
Thanks
Community Veteran
Posts: 4,844
Thanks: 120
Fixes: 24
Registered: 14-07-2009

Re: outlook express

Quote from: lizzards
I've just done a compact all folders on it and it has turned them all into .bak folders. But these folders have all been sent to the recycle bin!!!Surely thats not right?

That is entirely correct provided new versions of the .dbx files were created in the OE store folder.  The .bak file is a temporary copy of the uncompacted file so it is sent to the recycle bin once it is no longer needed. 
lizzards
Newbie
Posts: 5
Registered: 12-08-2007

Re: outlook express

Thanks very much. I think I've got a bit of learning to do before I can solve this. That might take some time!!!
Community Veteran
Posts: 17,463
Thanks: 1,473
Fixes: 16
Registered: 06-11-2007

Re: outlook express

You could try downloading "Recuva".... and see if that finds them....
Gel
Seasoned Pro
Posts: 1,514
Thanks: 154
Fixes: 12
Registered: 02-08-2007

Re: outlook express

Leaving most of your mail in Inbox is asking for trouble.  Kiss
Create dedicated sub folders, and transfer mail
into those as soon after they arrive as poss.
Additionally create some message rules so some inbound e mails go straight to one of these folders and
hardly reside in Inbox at all.
As you've done now create a separate store for your messages, elsewhere on your drive/USB stick/Remote HDD.
When you've found your store location for the OE messages, create a short cut to desktop, and then use this
shortcut to rapidly access those files; very useful for quick back up.
I back up weekly, so would never lose more than 7 days e mails at worse. Grin
N/A

Re: outlook express

Hope that you get them back but I do agree that it is best not to leave loads of emails in OE.
Everyone handles mail differently but IMO the advice above is as good as any i.e. use sub-folders and move the messages into them as soon as read. 
I use Windows Mail which also has storage folders to move mail into - particularly useful for those using IMAP. 
All my emails get dragged and dropped into folders on my external disk and then then are deleted from WLM.
Alternatively an easier way is to just make an empty folder and click Export from one of the Menu options (File in Live Mail).
If you don't mind third-party software another storage method is MAIL STORE.
I have recovered emails using Recuva but needs to be done quickly and computer not used for maximum success. Takes a long time but you can search for just .eml (otherwise all sorts of stuff comes up that you don't want).
Community Veteran
Posts: 38,460
Thanks: 1,027
Fixes: 62
Registered: 15-06-2007

Re: outlook express

I have SyncToy set to back up all the emails once a day onto a separate PC via the network