Transferring my Outlook Express mail to new computers

I have two computers using Win98 (as operating system) and Outlook Express (for my e-mail).  These are getting rather old and slow.  I am getting two newer computers, vastly upgraded and with Win Xp but I still intend to use OUtlook Express for my e-mail.  (or should I use Outlook??!!)

The problem I have is that I want to transfer important mail messages (all sorted out in folders and subfolders, some few MBs large) from my old machines to the new ones.

I tried copying some mail on floppies and then to the new machines, but I could not open those messages.

How do I do the transfer?? .  

I also need to transfer my address books.
Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

How to backup Outlook Express (OE) Email and transfer settings to another PC:

1. Email Messages:
From the Outlook Express menu select Tools | Options | Maintenance and click the StoreFolder button. You see a dialog with the name of the directory that has your mail files. If you look in that directory you find files named after your mail folders and news groups. They all have a .DBX suffix. Outlook Express keeps all messages in these database files. If you make copies of these files regularly, you'll have a safe backup of your OE mail.  

Restore (if necessary): To restore the backup data, just copy it back to the directory. You can selectively restore folders by just copying specific files back. Alternatively, you can use OE's File | Import | Messages feature to import one or more of the backup folders. Email Account Settings

As far as we know, the procedure works for all kind of email: The regular SMTP / POP3 based email, MAPI, IMAP or even the free Hotmail Account, that is built into Outlook. For Hotmail, however, some messages and settings might be stored only at the Hotmail server ( = somewhere at Microsoft !) and not on your local PC.

2. Account settings:
Data about your mail and news accounts are stored in the registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Account Manager. To save this data, start RegEdit and select that key in the left-hand pane. Then from the menu select Registry | Export Registry File. Save the file to a name like "outlook.reg".  

 Restore (if necessary) To restore the account settings, right-click the .REG file and select Merge.

Note: As an alternative, you can save the data one account at a time through Outlook Express: click Tools | Accounts | Export and specify the name of the file to save the settings. Be sure to save this information for every account.  

3. Address Book
Getting the data out of your address book for safekeeping is relatively easy. From the menu select File | Export | Address Book and select the comma separated text file as your output format. Then select the fields you want to export. To make sure you know where the backup is going, give a full path name. To restore the address book or to get your addresses onto a new system, the process is not quite symmetrical. Select File | Import | Other address book and select the text file option again. You'll be given a list of fields to import. Since you're importing a file that was created by Outlook Express, you usually don't need to make any changes here. After that, click your way on through the wizard and you'll get your address book back.  

4. Mail Rules
The mail rules are stored at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Identities. If you run Regedit and export this entire subkey to a file the same way you did with account settings: from the menu select Registry | Export Registry File. Save the file to a name like "rules.reg".  

Restore (if necessary):  Under the Identities key each subkey has a long number that looks similar to {36753740-2WEE-781D3-89B1-00A0C9900DSA}. So if you have five different identities in Outlook you will have five of these long numbers. Below the numbers are all the settings specific the the identity (signatures, mail rules,...). If you are restoring without reinstall and on the same PC these numbers do not change (as far as we know !) and you can just restore the registry entries by clicking on the reg file.

Moving OE settings to a NEW PC:
If you're moving to a new system or doing a clean install, the {...} numbers are be different and you may have to manually move the entries to the differently numbered entries that are actually being used.  

How to do this? This is the method that we use in our office:

1. Export the registry branch on the old PC to a *.reg file.  

2. Transfer this "reg" file to the new PC

3. On the new computer search for the (still empty) settings of your new Outlook Express installation. Once you find, you have the new {...} number!

4. Now, open the transfered*.reg file with a text editor and make a "Search and Replace":  

Replace the old {....} value with the NEW {...} that you just located in the registry.  

5. Save this file and then click on it. This will import your old settings in the NEW registry.  

5. Passwords
Outlook Express, along with those of most other Microsoft applications such as Internet Explorer, stores its passwords in .PWL files in your Windows directory for Win9x OS's. There's a separate file for each username on the system. Backup the files frequently. You can view the content of these files with the FREE "Write All Stored Password" utility from iOpus Software. For NT based OS's the passwords are encrypted and stored in the registry.

6. Recommended Reading:

OLEXP: How to Back Up and Recover Outlook Express Data;EN-US;270670

OLEXP: How to Backup and Restore Outlook Express Blocked Senders List and Other Mail Rules;en-us;276511
Greetings, ammoelie!

When you copy the files to CD, and from CD to new computer hard disk, the copying process makes the files read only.  On the new computer, go to the file property and uncheck read-only.

Best wishes, war1
ammoelieAuthor Commented:
to war1,

As I said in my question, I have tried copying some messages using a floppy (I suppose the same applies to CD) ...but cannot open any.  I have also now changed the properties fom "read only" and I still cannot open the mail!!!

Do I have to copy the messages (or rather the mail folders , each with tens or hundreds of messages) to a specific location on the new machine??

Thank you
Determine the Perfect Price for Your IT Services

Do you wonder if your IT business is truly profitable or if you should raise your prices? Learn how to calculate your overhead burden with our free interactive tool and use it to determine the right price for your IT services. Download your free eBook now!

ammoelie why don't you read everthing in my first post it tells you everything you need to do.
Including both of the links at the bottom of the post
you can use OE's File | Import | Messages feature to import one or more of the backup folders.
ammoelieAuthor Commented:
to CrazyOne,

Thank you for the extensive explanation ... I guess the part on "moving OE...." is the applicable one!!!

BUT ...I have already set up my OE on the new machine independent of the 'old' one and I am receiving mail on it already.  I only need to transfer the "old" mail messages that I want to continue to have (mostly related some aspect of my business) to the new machine.  As mentioned in your reply, the {.....}numbers on the New machine are different from those on the old one.

I have the two machines now connected to the Network, and it is easy to copy any of the mail "folders" from the old to the new (my mail messages go into folders with subject/persons name.  Some folders include tens or hundreds of messages).  I have actually tried copying some folders from the old {....} directory to the new {....} directory.  But when i open my OE on the new machine, the transferred folder is shown in the left pane, but when I select it the right pane indicates "there are no messages in this folder" do I got those messages/folders moved to the new machine?  without damaging or overwriting the mail that is already on the new machine????? ... and so that they become an integrated part of my mail folders???  and how can I read them and refer to them when needed???  

When that is done ...the old machine goes to church charity or some needy child

Thank you
ammoelieAuthor Commented:
to CrazyOne,

Thanks for the additional comments.  I have read your notes thoroughly and I understand that the "import" facility works only from a BackUp folder.  I have few problems with that:

A-   I am confused trying to follow up instruction in articlr 270670.  Step 3 presumably copies the file location.  Steps 5&6 will run that file after pasting the loation in the "Run" dialogue box!!!  Where do I go for step7 to get to "Edit">"Select All"??

B-  When i try to import on the New mchine, I go thru steps 1to 3 without problems.  But when trying to browse for the "Mail Backup" I do not see this folder on my Old machine.  The Browse does not see the folders on the old machine (even though they are on the network and the folders are 'shared'.

C-  will this procedure overwrite my 'new mail' which is now on the new machine??  Please see my previous note.

Thank you again for your detailed response ...and patience
ammoelieAuthor Commented:
to CrazyOne,

The back up works only for the full and complete "outlook Express" folder (or directory) and not for individual folders under the OE mail.   or does it???
Please list the folders on the new machine you do not want to be over written.
>> I have actually tried copying some folders from the old {....} directory to the new {....} directory.  But when i open my OE on the new machine, the transferred folder is shown in the left pane, but when I select it the right pane indicates "there are no messages in this folder" >>

Did you create the new folders in the new machine first before copying?  Create folder1, folder2, etc.  Then copy the dbx folders over.

Make sure in the new computer that you are showing all emails.  With OE open, go to View > Current View.  Select Show all Messages.

When you copy the folders over, make sure they are not read-only.  Right click on the dbx file and select Properties.  Uncheck Read-Only.

ammoelieAuthor Commented:
to CrazyOne,

As an example, on the new machine I have a folder under "name X".  This is a folder that I want to have and keep while transfering the other folders from the old machine with say "name A", "name B" , etc.
ammoelieAuthor Commented:
to war1,

I did create the folders and tried to copy the .dbx files into those folders.  It was not possible to copy into those folders, but to the OE sub-directory and creating a new folder named "folder(1).dbx"

You do have to copy into the OE folder. But the files should be inbox.dbx, etc.  If you are creating inbox(1).dbx, OE will not be able read it.
    We have not heard from you in awhile? Did any comment help you solve your problem? Do you have any more questions? If an Expert help you, please accept his/her answer with an excellent or good grade.

Thanks, war1
ammoelieAuthor Commented:

I have tried everything that was suggested, but I still cannot transfer any of of my e-mail folders from the old computer to teh new one.  I have created new folders on the new machine to match the same as those on the old machine and tried to copy the .dbx files from the old machine into these folders in all sorts of methods, using floppies, copy and paste, moving over the network ....etc.

But in all cases, I cannot read the mail.  The files are not readable.  I have also changed their properties.

I will definitely accept an answer from any of the Experts who solves my problem!!!!!!!!


To verify, the new folder is in the location where Outlook Express is looking for the data. The new folder location should be at Tools > Options > Maintenance > Stored Folder. If not at the location, click on Change to navigate to that location.
ammoelieAuthor Commented:

I am sorry but i seem to be getting more confused than before ...not being any sort of expert on computers.

Would you mind taking me thru the steps again, remembering that:

1-  I want to transfer the e-mail "messages", mostly in folders, from one machine to the other. (about twenty five folders, each containing up to 120 messages)

2-  I do not want to over-write the mail which is already on the new machine, also in folders with multimessages.  I can create additional folders, if needed, to move the inbox mail temporarily so as not to confuse the two inboxes

3-  The two machines are now networked and I can copy, move, delete, paste, etc between the two.  Except that the machines cannot see the invidual folders/messages in OE.  I can see the folders only on "Windows Explorer"

4-  Obviously, the two machines have different {....} numbers folders under the "identities" sub-folder

Thank you for your patience and advice

 PS. I have already doubled my points ...hoping to get an answer.
If you have emails in the new OE, then you don't want to copy the old dbx files over the new dbx files. This will lose the new emails.   You need to import the emails.  If you have not done so already, copy the whole folder of dbx files (not just the dbx files) over to the new computer.

With OE open, go to File > Import > Messages > MS Outlook Express 6.  Then follow the wizard.  Navigate to where you have copied the old messages.

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
ammoelieAuthor Commented:

DONE (took 18 minutes to do that , best 18 minutes spent)

ammoelieAuthor Commented:
Good experience and learned a lot.

To add for the benifit of others who face this problem, if you copy all you folders to a totally new directory in your C:, D: drive, when you import you can select any folder that you need and forget about others that you do not need.  It gives you a full listing of all the folders and you can do it one at a time or as many as you want or even all.

Thanks war1
ammoelie, glad to help!  :)  war1
Excelled work war1. Your instructions helped me as well!
Excellent work war1. Your instructions helped me as well!
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.