Outlook Express DBX file corruption

Posted on 2009-12-21
Last Modified: 2012-05-08
I was copying a large amount of emails from the inbox to another folder. It crashed mid copy. Now the folder is there and the .DBX file shows a large file size but no emails are visible. Can the .dbx file be reindexed?
Question by:Derf238
    LVL 10

    Expert Comment

    you can try importing the dbx into another identity
    LVL 10

    Accepted Solution

    If able to import them into another idententy, then can move them baack as desired.
    otherwise I have used:
    to repair.
    I do not know of a free tool
    LVL 38

    Assisted Solution

    Hi Derf 238

    I would suggest that you immediately create a new folder somewhere named appropriately (eg. "DBXs_Corrupt"), and copy all the *.dbx files from your "Store Folder" to it for safekeeping.  make sure Outlook Express is closed when you do this.

    Now create a working folder eg. "DBXs_For_Fixing" and copy the same *.dbx files into that.

    Download the free "MailView" program by Michal Mutl:

    Unzip to its own folder or even into your "DBXs_For_Fixing" folder and open "MailView.exe".
    File menu > Open.
    Select the "Outlook Express Message Database" radio button then click the "Browse" yellow folder icon (NOT the "Browse Current OE Store" button).
    Navigate to your "DBXs_For_Fixing" folder and select the *.dbx file known to be corrupt, probably your Inbox.dbx to begin with.
    Click "OK" and WAIT!

    Hopefully it will load the messages from the corrupt Inbox.dbx file into a message view list that emulates Outlook Express to an extent.  You can tick all the boxes and then use the Messages menu > Save > "Email..." option and browse to an output folder where all the ticked messages will (hopefully) be extracted as *.eml files.

    Optionally you can repeat these steps for any other DBX files you have copied out to your "DBXs_For_Fixing" folder.  Don't be too worried about any unusual filenames or truncated names for the *.eml files that were extracted.  The idea is to drag and drop them back into Outlook Express where the titles in the message list view will be as expected.

    Open Outlook Express and create a new folder, eg. "Restored_Inbox".
    Reduce the size of the Outlook Express window to about half screen area.
    Select the new "Restored_Inbox" folder so your message list shows, but is so far unpopulated.
    Open the folder containing your extracted *.eml files from the corrupt Inbox.dbx and select them all.
    Drag and drop them into the message list area for the "Restored_Inbox" folder in the Outlook Express window.
    Usually you will have to hover over the minimized icon in the Task bar to bring OE back into focus.
    Repeat this for as many DBX files as you suspect or know to be corrupt.

    Close Outlook Express and re-open it.  This is just to ensure that the new folder name is written to the Folders.dbx file in your Store Folder.  It probably doesn't need this step, but I tend to do this just to be sure.

    Close OE and open your Store Folder in Windows Explorer.  Rename Inbox.dbx file to something logical like "Corrupt_Inbox-dbx.txt".
    Open Outlook Express again and it should create a new unpopulated "Inbox.dbx" file.
    Close and re-open OE again, for the reasons I suggested above.
    Now, from within Outlook Express, try to copy the messages from the "Restored_Inbox" folder in OE to the new empty Inbox.

    If it fails again, then you still have your backed up *.dbx files to try a different approach.

    Close Outlook Express and re-open it to ensure that the Inbox.dbx opens and displays the restored messages.
    Close OE and you can now safely delete the renamed "Corrupt_Inbox-dbx.txt".
    Open it again and delete the "Restored_Inbox" folder.

    Repeat for the corrupt folder and dbx file that were affected originally.
    Hopefully you should have all your emails restored again, and you should consider using an archiving convention to move your Inbox emails to separate OE folders on a regular basis to keep the DBX file sizes small.  It is possible that the corruption occurred because the Inbox became too large and faltered for this reason during the message copying process.

    There is one possible side effect of using the extraction to *.eml file and then dragging and dropping them into an OE folder from Windows Explorer.  The Dates of the messages MAY end up showing in OE with the time stamps that reflect when you extracted the contents of the *.dbx file to *.eml files.  If this IS something you notice, then you should probably use another program that is intended for actually repairing corrupt DBX files, even if it means paying for it.  The dates of the emails as they appear in OE are important to me, as I'm sure they are to you, in which case the above method is less than ideal.

    There is another freeware program I have used to recover *.eml messages from corrupt *.dbx files, but I cannot now remember how effective it was:
    Outlook Express Extraction:

    For your information, there is a program named "Universal Extractor" that allows you to extract the contents of a great many different file types including DBX files.  You can read about another method I have used here:


    In fact, I could have sved a bit of typing by just posting the 2nd link above ;-)
    LVL 38

    Expert Comment

    Other resources including a couple of excellent utilities:
    DBXtract used to be free, but is now modestly priced at $11.
    LVL 38

    Expert Comment

    Thank you Derf238.
    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    Try using Kernel for Outlook Express to repair the damaged DBX file.

    Write Comment

    Please enter a first name

    Please enter a last name

    We will never share this with anyone.

    Featured Post

    Why You Should Analyze Threat Actor TTPs

    After years of analyzing threat actor behavior, it’s become clear that at any given time there are specific tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) that are particularly prevalent. By analyzing and understanding these TTPs, you can dramatically enhance your security program.

    Microsoft Outlook provides an easy way to recover permanently deleted items. When you empty the Deleted Items or simply deleted an Outlook data items using shift+Del key then it can be recovered using Registry Key settings.  Caution- Wrong Registry…
    MS outlook is a premier email client that enable you to send and receive the e-mails with various file formats of attachments such as document files, media file, and many others formats. There is some scenario occurs when a receiver of an e-mail mes…
    how to add IIS SMTP to handle application/Scanner relays into office 365.
    Get a first impression of how PRTG looks and learn how it works.   This video is a short introduction to PRTG, as an initial overview or as a quick start for new PRTG users.

    760 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

    Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

    Join & Ask a Question

    Need Help in Real-Time?

    Connect with top rated Experts

    8 Experts available now in Live!

    Get 1:1 Help Now