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Restore Thunderbird mail after reinstall

Posted on 2007-03-22
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Last Modified: 2009-02-07
Before sending my dying laptop in for service, I backed up the drive - it turned out my laptop motherboard is fried, so I installed Thunderbird on another machine, but I'm not sure how to get my old mail back into Thunderbird.

Long ago when I used outlook, I'd just point it at my old .pst file and everything was fine, but it doesn't seem that easy w/ Thunderbird.

Any ideas?

Thanks,
-Jon
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Question by:The--Captain
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14 Comments
 
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by:Marc Z
ID: 18779098
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by:Marc Z
ID: 18779108
http://kb.mozillazine.org/Profile_backup#Restoring_or_migrating_your_backed-up_profile by far has the easiest solution of
1.  Completely close all Mozilla programs, including the Mozilla Suite, Firefox, and Thunderbird. Don't forget to exit the Mozilla Suite's Quick Launch if it's open (as indicated in the Windows system tray).  Make sure no Mozilla Suite/Firefox/Thunderbird processes are still running.
   2. Copy the folder you backed up to the exact same location that it was in when you made the backup or to an identical location on the other computer. If you are moving from one OS to another (e.g., Windows 98 to Windows XP), or if your Windows boot drive letter has changed (e.g., from "C:\" to "D:\") or your Windows login/user name is different, see Moving your profile folder.
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by:The--Captain
ID: 18784752
>Copy the folder you backed up to the exact same location that it was in when
>you made the backup or to an identical location on the other computer

Sorry, not gonna happen...

I guess I might need to refer to "Moving your profile folder".

I must apologize in advance, but I'm not going to drop 500 pts on something I could look up myself - I'm looking for some holding of hands...

So, allow me to clarify - I've got a backup drive (assigned to letter E:) that contains the old laptop data.  I've installed Thunderbird on the new system in "D:\Program Files".  I had four email accounts configured in Thunderbird on the old laptop, and can find directories corresponding to their names under "E:\Documents and Settings\jon\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\default.cot\Mail"

The weird thing is that my new Thunderbird data path seems strange - I found my newly installed profile under "C:\Documents and Settings\Jon\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\t34hakwz.default\Mail"

Any suggestions on how to proceed?

Thanks,
-Jon
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Expert Comment

by:Marc Z
ID: 18785556
The weird thing is that my new Thunderbird data path seems strange - I found my newly installed profile under "C:\Documents and Settings\Jon\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\t34hakwz.default\Mail"

That is not really a problem,  t34hakwz.default is your New Profile with the New build of Thunderbird.  Sometime ago, between versions the Mozilla team changed the profile names from default.*** to ********.default.  So your older (backed up) profile simply has an older name. I'm betting you have used Thunderbird for a while.

sorry, pressed for time right now, will be back
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Marc Z earned 500 total points
ID: 18786420
You said, " I've installed Thunderbird on the new system in "D:\Program Files"."
That's fine, that is the Program Installation location.  Your actual preferences, mail, and settings are located in the Profile Folder located where you found them. Those are the actual files we need to deal with.

what you'll want to do

#1 Remember, whenever you are dealing with the Profile folder (copying, pasting, trying to modify ANY file within the Profile Folder), you MUST have Thunderbird closed.  If you do not have it closed and you modify a file, TB might modify that same file again when you close and that will undo what you were trying to do. So the safest thing is to have TB closed.


Now on to copying your profile folder. The above paths you noted are where TB is storing your Mail DATA. Not an issue.
What you need to move (copy) is E:\Documents and Settings\jon\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\default.cot to
C:\Documents and Settings\Jon\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles so that default.cot is in the Newly created Profile Folder.

After doing that, try starting TB. If your old account doesn't show up, close TB.
Then Start->All Programs->Mozilla Thunderbird-> this time select Profile Manager.  Uncheck the Don't Ask At Startup so that we can confirm you have the correct one.  
Select a profile and hit Start Thunderbird. Is it the correct one?  If Yes, close Thunderbird. Start Thunderbird, this time when the Profile Manager pops up, select the same Profile and Check the "Don't Ask At Startup" and your set.

If No, then close Thunderbird. Start Thunderbird and select a different Profile and repeat above until you find your Profile.  If you can't see your profile at all let me know, and I will walk you through editing your .ini files.
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by:Marc Z
ID: 18787162
I must also apologize but i do not always have the time for hand holding, that is why I give the asker the pages to follow up on in case I don't get back in a timely manner  and they don't have the ability to use google as well as others.  I also don't have pre-made scripts for quick problem solving because most problems are unique (even when the answer could be the same) and I prefer to give as much attention to each individual question as I can, which means I have to type out your individual answers which takes more time than most people would like to sit and wait for.
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by:baybiz
ID: 18828508
Try using mozbackup here http://mozbackup.jasnapaka.com/
It will backup all your profiles emails etc and store it in mydocuments
Copy the file to a cd etc and reload mozbackup on your destination machine and restore. The best solution I've ever found on thunderbird.
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by:The--Captain
ID: 18834753
baybiz says:

>Try using mozbackup here http://mozbackup.jasnapaka.com/

That sounds great - do you also have a time machine available to me so that I can do that before sending my laptop off to the shop?

On second thought, I'll go with what mtz1of4 suggests - in fact, I already did that, and got quite a bit of my email recovered (I wasn't thrilled that my POP counters got reset, but what can you do...)

I'll post back soon with more details - I've got jury duty in the morning (Doh!), so now it's time for sleep.

Cheers,
-Jon

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by:Marc Z
ID: 18876964
Jon, Any update?   It sounds like you are making progress.
Hope jury duty was painless.

Marc
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by:The--Captain
ID: 19063865
Thx, mtz - I got all my mail back using your advice - sorry for the delay in awarding pts - I forgot this was still open.

Unfortunately, jury duty sucked - I have to go back in October - what fun!

Cheers,
-Jon
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by:Marc Z
ID: 19064564
Thanks for the updates.

Marc
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by:The--Captain
ID: 20448354
I had to reinstall XP again recently (don't ask), and I quickly restored my TB email using the following method (basically by slightly modifying the accepted solution):

I fired up TB from the old install location (I did not re-install it).  When it asked me to create an account, I cancelled the wizard and then closed TB.

I moved (although could have just as easily deleted) the newly created Profiles folders from C:\Documents and Settings\Jon\Application Data\Thunderbird\ as well as C:\Documents and Settings\Jon\Local Settings\Application Data\Thunderbird\ , and then copied both Profiles folders containing my previous data from their old locations to the respective directories (mentioned above).

Fired up TB, and all my mail is present and accounted for, and all accounts and filtering rules are in place - even POP counters seem to be accurate (although I can't confirm that - I haven't been leaving much mail on my POP servers lately).

Cheers (and thanks again),
-Jon

P.S.  I'm using TB version 2.0.0.9 (20071031), in case that's important for anyone reading this at a later date.
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by:Marc Z
ID: 20449263
Thanks Jon.

I believe the only concern one might have doing it your way would be when you get into the Extensions.  I thought those should be reinstalled in order to move them properly, but perhaps they have changed the way they install with the later releases.
Either way, glad it's working and thanks for the update.
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