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Lost all email files and folders in my Thunderbird account -- accidentally

I JUST LOST ALL OF MY CURRENT EMAIL FILES AND SUBFOLDERS !! Can someone help me get them back?? This happened after I put in a 3-yr old DVD from 2008 which contained the so-called "downloaded, saved backups" to all of my Mozilla Thunderbird internet files from 2008. While looking at the old files saved on that DVD, I tried to open a number of old InBox and Sent files on that DVD, to see some of my old emails. That was not working well, so, I just closed and ejected the DVD. I had NOT deliberately tried to modify ANYTHING on my current laptop. But after I had ejected the DVD and resumed my regular work on my computer, I discovered that -- somehow -- my Thunderbird email files had been totally wiped clean. ALL of the inbox and sent emails from my computer were gone. ALL of the subfolders were gone. TOTALLY. I had about 2 full years of emails on my laptop -- some 800 of so in my Inbox and Sent folders, and they are ALL GONE !!! All those messages, all those family photos, etc --- GONE !
Does ANYbody know what happened? Can I reset something to get my email files and folders back??? Please help.
David
Stroudsburg, PA
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  • Did the new account wizard come up? Do you still see all your contacts in the address book?
    Do you see the folder pane?
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  • To christ1: No, a "new account" wizard did not come up. Yes, I still can see all of my contacts in the address book. Not sure what you mean by "The Folder Pane", but -- if by that you mean the vertical list of icons on the left panel, showing the different email addresses, and the various sub-folders under each email address (such as Inbox, Junk, Trash, Outbox) -- then yes, I do see a folder pane (list of icons), but THAT LIST is now dramatically different. No longer do I see a "Sent" folder; no longer do I have the sub-folders I'd set up, like "Family", "Friends" "Misc", and a fair list of subject-related sub-folders (such as Church, High School, Cabin, Wedding, etc). Now, there are ONLY four (4) icons on the left-side panel: Inbox, Junk, Trash, Outbox, and they are all empty !! Nothing more.

    Again, all I did was try to view old emails that I thought I had sotred on an old DVD (on which I had saved the entire Mozilla package by drag & drop), including the old folders/files/programs. But at NO time did any messages pop up asking if I wanted to create anything new while I was trying to find the old emails on the DVD.
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  • Ok, first of all create a full backup of your profile.
    http://kb.mozillazine.org/Thunderbird...

    Then locate your profile folder.
    http://kb.mozillazine.org/Profile_fol...

    Do you see any of the missing folders in your profile? Look for files without an extension, like 'Inbox', and 'Sent'.
    What is the size of those files?
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  • Sorry to say that I've tried, but cannot locate my Thunderbird profile folder -- I'm using a new 15" Apple MacBook Pro (bought in Oct 2011) and am running Lion OS X version 10.7.2. (and, just so you know I'm not a novice, I have been working intensely with PCs and Macs for more than 25 yrs) (as a user, though, and not as a programmer). When I go to the icons that represent my computer hard-drive, I can see the "Library" sub-folder, but nowhere is there a "Thunderbird" folder beyond that. Doing a computer search for "Thunderbird", I do find a stand-along folder with that name, and when I double-click on that folder, I see one sub-folder called "Mail". When I open that folder, there are several more sub-folders, such as: Inbox.mozmsgs; Sent.mozmsgs; Drafts.mozmsgs, etc. But I can't open any of them, because I get a WARNING message that says: "The folder "Inbox.mozmsgs" can't be opened because you don't have permissions to see its contents."

    I've read the articles associated with the webpages you showed in your reply, but they have not helped me find my Thunderbird Profile folder yet. Don't want to try your patience, but, any other way for me to find the Thunderbird profile folder?
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  • Select Help/Troubleshooting Information and there should be a button to open the Profile Directory.

    Once you get it working, you can see you old emails, stored in the Inbox, Sent etc. mbox files in the profile folder, by importing them to TB with the aid of the ImportExportTools extension:

    http://kb.mozillazine.org/Importing_f...
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  • Thanks, sfhowes, for the suggestion. I will give it a try.
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  • To SFHowes:
    Yes, I can find the Profile Directory tab (in the blue column of items under "Application Basics") in the "Troubleshooting Information" sub-folder of the drop-down menu under the Help tab. Then, to the right of the "Profile Directory" tab, is a button that says "Show in Finder". When I double click that button, I get a whole NEW window with a single folder ("jzweOfzy.default"), which -- when I open it -- now contains a LONG list of sub-files of many and various Documents, Folders, JavaScript scripts, Plain Text files, Text Documents, and an XML Document. Many of these have an odd "sqlite" extension.

    In your earlier email reply, you say: "Once you get it working, you can see your old emails.......". So, my question to you is: Once I get WHAT working...? I don't understand what folder you are suggesting I should be working with. Please forgive my ignorance. I just would like to find and save all of my "old" (last week's !!) emails.
    :=)

    Thanks for your patient, and for your help.

    David
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  • My last reply was, first, a suggestion as to how to locate your current profile folder so that you could follow up on christ1's advice. The second part refers to how to read the mail stored in a similar profile folder structure on your backup DVD.

    I don't see why looking at the contents of the DVD would make the mail on your hard drive disappear, but now that you've found the profile folder, jzweOfzy.default, you can answer the earlier question as to whether you can find the Inbox, Sent etc. files. They will be in subfolders (named for your accounts) that are subfolders of the Mail or ImapMail folders:

    http://kb.mozillazine.org/Profile_fol...

    Finding those files is the first step to possibly restoring them to a working setup.

    http://kb.mozillazine.org/Recovering_...
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  • Reply from David:
    TO christ1: your earlier request about the size of Mail folders that I find in my Profile --- I used SFHowes suggestions on how to find my Profile Folder, and inside that folder I did find a "Mail" sub-folder. Inside that I find 4 more sub-folders entitled: (1) Local Folders; (2) mail.promail.net; (3) promail.ptd.net; and (4) smart mailboxes. I've opened and looked at contents of each.

    The only HUGE file associated with the word "Inbox" is a file in the "Promail.ptd.net" folder; it is a 730 MB single "document" simply labeled "inbox". (Another file next to it is called "Inbox.msf", and only has 2 KB). This "promail.ptd.net" Folder does not have any "Sent" folders or docs.

    All the files in the "Smart Mailboxes" folder are very small files of zero bytes or 2 KB. Same with the "Mail.promail.net" Folder: it contains a lot of files, including inbox, junk, sent, trash, drafts, etc, but all of these files are also quite small (from zero to 650 KB -- the latter being the "inbox" file.

    However, the "Local Folders" Folder has a large number of sub-folders and files, and many of these are large files -- in the 6 MB to 600 MB range. They include the folders that "disappeared" last week (at least by name of folder). Many of these have two files of similar name: one being (for example) "Sent", and the next one being "Sent.msf". There are MANY files in this "Local Folders" Folder.

    So, MY QUESTION to you is this: how do I properly move and re-save (re-instate) these email folders into my current blank email folders? I'm just being extremely cautious here, because I don't want to do the WRONG thing and really mess up these old email folders (which probably contain all of the stuff I lost last week).

    Again, THANK YOU BOTH for your patience with my caution and lack of skills. Thank you !

    David
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  • First of all create a full backup of your profile.
    http://kb.mozillazine.org/Thunderbird...

    Based on your information above there's a good chance to recover all your lost mail.
    Your Mail directory looks a bit messed up though. Therefore, what accounts have you set-up? The easiest way to find out is posting your Troubleshooting Information.
    Help - Troubleshooting Information
    Copy the 'Mail and News Accounts' section and paste it into your reply.

    Also, can you still send and receive mail? Do you still see the contacts in your address book?
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  • Three quick things (that will show how totally UN-geeky I am):

    (1) Don't know how to "..create a full backup of my profile", so, I will read the mozillazine article you mentioned.

    (2) To answer your questions in 2nd paragraph: I have set up two separate email accounts with my one email provider (PennTeleData, or "ptd"), but the "Mail and News Accounts" section of "Help/Troubleshooting shows three accounts (see below). Both email accounts are in my active email folder, and both are still working fine -- I can send and receive emails perfectly fine right now, in both. I only lost the emails from one of these two accounts.

    (3) The Address Book still shows all of my many contact names. Nothing was lost there.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    MAIL & News ACCOUNTS:

    INCOMING SERVER Connection Security Authentication
    Account 1: (none) Local Folders none Normal password
    Account 2: (pop3) promail.ptd.net:110 none Normal Password
    Account 3: (pop3) mail.promail.net:110 none Normal Password

    OUTGOING SERVERS ConnSecurity Authentication Default?
    Acct 1: ------ ---- -------- ----
    Acct 2: promail.ptd.net:587 none Normal password True
    Acct 3: promail.ptd.net:587 none Normal password True

    That's it, christ1.

    Again, THANKS for any and all help.
    David
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    • So let's see how to get your mail back.
      In Thunderbird create a new folder 'Backup' (without the quotes) underneath Local Folders.
      Close Thunderbird. In the file system the new folder appears as an empty file 'Backup' under Mail - Local Folders in your profile.
      Rename the backed up mail file 'Inbox' (the file without the file extension) to 'Backup'.
      Copy the file 'Backup' from your backup into 'Local Folders', i.e. overwrite the empty file 'Backup'.
      Start Thunderbird, and check if you can see your missing mail.
    • Again, thanks for your help. I'll give it a try.
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  • TO christ1:

    (1) I just burned to a DVD a full copy of the "Mail" sub-folder which was inside my Profile Directory Folder. I did this by right-clicking the "Mail Folder" in the long list of folders and files inside the Profile folder, then clicking on the "Burn 'Mail' to disk" option which came up. The process took a few minutes to complete. That DVD now has (in appearance, at least) all of the exact same files, folders and sub-folders that appear on the computer. It would seem that I have made a full backup of the "Mail" folder.

    (2) Alternatively, do you think it is critically-important that -- instead of the above -- I make a full copy of the entire, huge "Profile Directory Folder" to another DVD or two? Including the contents of the "Mail" Folder, there are hundreds of files and folders contained in this Personal Profile Folder............

    David
    • I'd highly recommend to backup the entire profile folder. By doing this the backup will include your account set-up, contacts, passwords, filters, any other settings or customizations, extensions, etc.You don't need to burn it onto DVD. An USB thumb drive would be fine as well.
      Even to put the backup copy onto your hard disc is better than nothing, but having the backup on a different media is always recommended.
    • Thanks. I will backup the entire profile folder onto my external hard drive (a 120GB Western Digital). But I still have not yet moved anything from the Profile Folder's "MAIL" folder, back into my current Thunderbird email folders on my MacBook Pro hard drive. Forgive me for saying it, but I don't think I yet understand how to move/import (or whatever) those emails into my presently functioning Thunderbird email -- I really don't know what folders to select, what "transfering them" means, or what "importing them" means -- not sure what program does this. Please advise at your convenience. And again, THANK YOU !
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