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Partial backup of Outlook Express messages

Posted on 2009-04-06
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-06
I am a very sad person or, in the words of Bill gates, I have a "documented life".
Still, I have messages on my OE dating back to 1996(!)
I'd like to archive all messages before, say, 2004 so that they are retrievable but do not show up on the live OE I use every day. How do I do that?

many thanks.
Question by:Peborgh

Accepted Solution

Kentrix70 earned 668 total points
ID: 24075930
You could create a folder in you outlook express called for instance "Backup",
move all the old mail to that folder and then:

1) Close Outlook Express

2) Go to C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Local settings\Application Data\Identities\{<GUID-number>}\Microsoft\Outlook Express
where you replace <username> with your username and <GUID-number> with the number, that you find in the Identities folder.

3) Find the Backup.dbx file, and make a copy of it to a secure location (for later restore).

4) Delete the Backup.dbx file.

5) Start Outlook Express. The system will create a new backup.dbx file which are empty.

If you later need to restore the old mails, you can:

1) Close Outlook Express

2) Copy backup.dbx to C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Local settings\Application Data\Identities\{<GUID-number>}\Microsoft\Outlook Express

3) Start Outlook Express again, and all you backup mails, will be located in the backup folder.
LVL 97

Assisted Solution

war1 earned 664 total points
ID: 24078161
Hello Peborgh,

Adding to what Kentrix70 said, with so much emails you may want to back up the data in serveral folders.  Each DBX file can hold up to 2 GB of data.  Also, large files tend to corrupt.

Folder where DBX files are located is hidden, so you have to unhide hidden folders. In Windows XP, open Windows Explorer or any folder.  Click on Tools > Folders Options > View. Check "Show hidden files and folders".  If you want to see system files as well, uncheck Hide protected operating system files.   Click OK.

In Windows Vista, open Windows Explorer or any folder. Click the Layout button (to the left of the Views button). Click Folder Options > View tab. Check "Show hidden files and folders".   Click OK

Hope this helps!

Expert Comment

ID: 24081675
Excellent points war1.
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LVL 39

Assisted Solution

BillDL earned 668 total points
ID: 24126047
Personally I would just group the emails into whatever Outlook Express folders were most appropriate to the content.  Probably a Sent and Received folder for each year may be best for your situation.

Then I would create a folder on a known good hard drive such as a slave drive eg. X:\OE_Backup.  Within that, I would create the 8 sub-folders for each year.  Within that, I would create sub-folders named Sent and Received.

With Windows Explorer behind Outlook Express, and the Outlook Express window resized to see the folders below, I would do a multiple file select (Click - Shift - Click) and just drag the messages out onto the empty space of whatever folder matches the currently open Outlook Express folder.  When dropped there, the files will copy.  They will not be moved there.

Creating the folders to receive the messages is pretty easy, but a bit laborious without a batch file like that attached as a *.txt file.  Rename it, changing the *.txt extension to *.bat or *.cmd and it will create the receiving folders within whatever folder it is run.

As long as Outlook Express or Windows Live mail are installed, the archived *.eml files can always be opened.

Another program that can be used to open any backed-up *.dbx files is the standalone and freeware MailView program that I was just discussing and using in my last comment (ID: 24115797) here:

Mail Viewer - allows you to open *.dbx files from any folder and save the messages out to *.eml files.

Combined with the previous suggestions by Kentrix70 and war1, that gives you a few useful methods.  For peace of mind, I would create BOTH types of backup archives.  *.dbx files can become corrupt.
LVL 39

Expert Comment

ID: 24126048
Whoops, the batch file :-)

Author Comment

ID: 24145831
As BillDL says, the three of you have produced quite a variety of helpful suggestions for me. many thanks for that. I am not absolutely sure which I will use but I will split the points between you as that is the fairest response. And this info will be, I am sure, helpful later...

LVL 39

Expert Comment

ID: 24148380
Thank you Peter.  I'm glad the suggestions were useful or insightful.  No harm in trying all the suggestions to create separate and different archives. Now how are you going to "document" these suggestions for later reference?  ;-)

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