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Thunderbird folders gone

Last Modified: 2013-12-04
Hello, I am helping someone who lost their folders, I have read that to rebuild the folders I must delete the files in the profile with the .msf extension (but also that there should also be a file with the same name and no extension in the folder) That I understand, but there are two profiles, the nmn8s82u.Default User and 7l648mx4.default.

The default User profile has both a Mail folder (with 8 folders and 2 same-name-as folders .msf files.inside) and an IMAPMail folder (with 3 folders and 3 same-name-as folders .msf files.) In Mail, when I open the Folders, I find the .msf files with the matching name-with-no-extension files too. In IMAPMail, not all .msf files have matching same-name-no extension files.

The default profile just has a Mail folder with 4 folders within (and no .msf same name files) and inside each of the the 4 folders they all all have the matching .msf files and no-extension files within.

So, after that convoluted explanation, do I just delete everything with a .msf no matter where I find it, the folders and files? No matter whether it has a matching file, or matching folder or matching nothing?

We have already tried right clicking the email address in the left panel and choosing "fix" That didn't bring the folders back.

Any help would be appreciated!
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Valliappan ANSenior Tech Consultant

Are you trying to delete .msf files as here:


(delete msf files, may be make a copy of them in another folder, for backup until issue fixed)

Also check this link:


(about rebuilding the folder indexes by deleting the sqlite file)


It sounds to me like your friend may have accidentally opened a second profile, and that's why they can't see their files.

Before you do ANYTHING, make a complete backup of both of those Profile folders. Copy them to a different location, so you can recover if you need to.

After doing that, close Thunderbird, if running Windows 7, go to Start-> All Programs->Mozilla Thunderbird->Thunderbird Profile Manager.
This should open a control panel where you should be able to Select either of those Profiles you listed above.  Before you Open one of them, Uncheck the Option "Don't Ask At Startup" until you have figured out you are working in the correct profile.  If the first one doesn't have your folders and emails, close it, and reopen TB and select the second Profile.  Hopefully this will hep you get your files back.

In some Windows Installs, a Profile Manager shortcut is created. If Not, see http://kb.mozillazine.org/Profile_manager for instructions on how to open the profile manager.

Let us know how it goes from there.


Sounds good I will try tomorrow, I have the backups, thanks!!


Hi mtz1of4, we did all that and  saw that the first profile is old and can be deleted but even when we opened the second profile and saw the two email addresses he uses, the folders were not there (years worth of old emails to clients)

So shall we delete the first profile, then go into the  good profile and delete the .msf files that have a matching no-extension file (keep those intact) what about the folders with a .msf extension, delete them too?  We have a backup.

I wouldn't delete the old profile. there is no harm leaving it as long as you are opening the Second profile that appears to have the emails he is/was using.  I'm curious, did he recreate the new profiles?
Where did you read you are supposed to delete the .msf files?  That may work, but I really only depend on the Mozillazine site for good Forums and KB articles.  I'm not crazy about "about.com" articles that are not complete.  Above link didn't appear complete when I looked at it.
I'd be more inclined to follow http://kb.mozillazine.org/Recovering_a_profile_that_suddenly_disappeared#Lost_profile  and read up on  http://kb.mozillazine.org/Importing_folders
Make sure you have "View Hidden files and folders" Checked and "Hide known file extensions" Unchecked in windows Folder options.

Oh, one more thing, is it possible they just changed their View so they aren't Seeing their existing folder? can you please provide a screenshot of their Thunderbird window?
Feel free to Wipe out or delete any personally identifiable info in the screenshot.

You could try hitting Alt + VFA, that should display All Folders.


We tried displaying all folders, the folders show up but they only have mail from the last few weeks in them when he lost his folders and made a new profile. We installed the import/export addon, but when we tried to import the mbox files we got this error"impossible to import in the folder (IMAP or newsgroup)" .

So we created a new profile and tried to import into it and  that same error message, then we tried import all folder and subdirectories and nothing happened at all when we selected the top directory in his profile with folders in it.  

Any help again would be greatly appreciated
This one is on us!
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That was it worked like a charm, thank you!!

And you recovered all the missing emails?


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