Computers & Electronics

Outlook Express Problem - Missing all emails for 6 months

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  • Oct 28th, 2010 1:58 pm
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[OP]
Sr. Member
Dec 8, 2001
619 posts
63 upvotes

Outlook Express Problem - Missing all emails for 6 months

Does anyone know of a good program (prefer free of course) to recover all lost emails due to an Outlook Express problem. We lost 6 months worth of emails for some reason.
10 replies
Deal Fanatic
Feb 21, 2006
5148 posts
100 upvotes
You can get OE to rebuild the message index, which may recover the mail messages if they are still there.

You could try a Clean Up under Options - Maintenance, but personally I would back up the dbx files before trying that if the index is corrupt.

If that doesn't work:

1. Go to the folder where OE stores the mail files (on WinXP it's C:\Documents and Settings\yourname\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{a long hex number}\Microsoft\Outlook Express)

2. With OE not running, move all the dbx mail files to a different folder (check the sizes - the size of the file should indicate whether all your mail is there in the dbx file where you think it is)

3. Start OE and let it create new empty dbx files.

4. Shut down OE again and move all the original dbx files back except Folders.dbx

5. Restart OE and let it re-index the dbx files.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Dec 8, 2001
619 posts
63 upvotes
Aske001 wrote:
Oct 20th, 2010 2:17 pm
You can get OE to rebuild the message index, which may recover the mail messages if they are still there.

You could try a Clean Up under Options - Maintenance, but personally I would back up the dbx files before trying that if the index is corrupt.

What exactly do I do under "maintenance". The second option did not work.
Member
Jan 20, 2010
263 posts
9 upvotes
Most likely your auto archiving is on. It basically moves old emails to another folder which is sometimes "hidden".

DO you have a folder within Outlook list called "archive" ?

If not go to tools >> options >> Other >> Auto Archive
Then check where the folder for auto archive is stored.

Then reply back to this thread.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Dec 8, 2001
619 posts
63 upvotes
KINGKAM wrote:
Oct 20th, 2010 3:27 pm
Most likely your auto archiving is on. It basically moves old emails to another folder which is sometimes "hidden".

DO you have a folder within Outlook list called "archive" ?

If not go to tools >> options >> Other >> Auto Archive
Then check where the folder for auto archive is stored.

Then reply back to this thread.

When I click on tools, there is no "other" to click under, so therefore also no "auto archive". I do not think this is the problem, as I have emails from 7 months and before still in there, it just seems to have wiped out everything from yesterday back 6 months............
Deal Fanatic
Feb 21, 2006
5148 posts
100 upvotes
albertanewbie wrote:
Oct 20th, 2010 3:17 pm
What exactly do I do under "maintenance". The second option did not work.

Tools -> Options -> Maintenance -> Clean Up Now

But before you do that, check the dbx file for the mail folder name where you think the missing mail might be found (e.g. Inbox.dbx). You can open the file with a text editor, and you will find the actual full text of your email messages mixed in with the other data. Do a text name/contents search for some of the messages you think you are missing. If they aren't there, then you can't retrieve them by rebuilding the index.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Dec 8, 2001
619 posts
63 upvotes
Aske001 wrote:
Oct 20th, 2010 4:09 pm
Tools -> Options -> Maintenance -> Clean Up Now

But before you do that, check the dbx file for the mail folder name where you think the missing mail might be found (e.g. Inbox.dbx). You can open the file with a text editor, and you will find the actual full text of your email messages mixed in with the other data. Do a text name/contents search for some of the messages you think you are missing. If they aren't there, then you can't retrieve them by rebuilding the index.
If I go in there and click on reset, nothing happens. Nothing has worked so far. I guess I may have to just suck it up and count them lost, I don't know......
Deal Fanatic
Feb 21, 2006
5148 posts
100 upvotes
Have you ever done a backup of the system where your mail files are stored? If so, maybe you can retrieve some of the messages from the backup by finding the mail folder dbx file.

Did you have OE set to delete messages from your mail server when you have downloaded them? If not, maybe the messages are still on your mail server, and all you have to do is reset the "last message read" number to download them all again.

To prevent this loss in future, you could two things:

1. A lot of people now forward their POP email to Gmail and then download it from there. That gives you free online backup, good spam filtering, and access to your mail files from anywhere while traveling.

2. Back up your system disk frequently to an external hard drive. This is a no-brainer these days with external backup drives being dirt cheap. Not only can you avoid data loss, you can recover easily from a hard drive crash or even the total loss of the system through fire, theft etc.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Dec 8, 2001
619 posts
63 upvotes
Aske001 wrote:
Oct 21st, 2010 9:42 am

Did you have OE set to delete messages from your mail server when you have downloaded them? If not, maybe the messages are still on your mail server, and all you have to do is reset the "last message read" number to download them all again.
How do I do this? No, messages were not set to delete, as I still have emails from prior to 6 months back, so I just lost a "chunk" of them.
Deal Addict
Nov 18, 2006
1171 posts
3 upvotes
Toronto
just got the same problem today..
missing a chunk of email..
Deal Fanatic
Feb 21, 2006
5148 posts
100 upvotes
Unfortunately Outlook Express has a silly design defect. Originally OE would try to clean up the mail dbx files in the background during an idle period (i.e., copying the files to remove deleted records and unused space, and then rebuilding the index). Unfortunately the clean-up procedure was not very robust, and if the PC was turned off or crashed without shutting down properly, aborting the clean-up unexpectedly, the mail files could be corrupted and data lost. Since WinXP SP2, Microsoft makes OE ask you if it can start a clean-up, and then runs it in the foreground, so at least you know it's going on. It still wastes time copying files that haven't changed since the last clean-up and obviously can't be compressed any further, and it still corrupts the files if the procedure is aborted unexpectedly. Way to go, Microsoft! Usually the original data can be recovered in this case by forcing OE to rebuild the index.

Every time OE communicates with your POP mail server to download messages, it compares the last message number downloaded to the current message number on the POP server to determine which messages it has to download. At the end of the download, it may or may not tell the server to delete those messages. That's an option for each POP account in OE. If you don't tell the server to delete the messages, they remain there, and the number of messages grows until you run out of allocated space on the server. People trying to send you new mail then get a warning that your mailbox is full. You don't download the old messages again each time you connect because the server keeps track of the last message downloaded. In order to download all the messages again, you have to tell the server to reset the last message downloaded. That procedure varies with each POP server. You may also be able to see the messages via the webmail interface if your POP server supports webmail.

If you did have OE set to delete messages from the POP server after downloading (as most people do to prevent build-up and a full mailbox), then they're gone forever from the server after you successfully download them to your local OE.

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