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Thunderbird stopped working -- Crashed (lacks crash report), and high memory usage CAUSE: large folders

Thunderbird has been unstable and functioning poorly for 3 or 4 weeks, maybe longer, and the problems in the past several days have become severe.

What typically happens is that I am unable delete a message. I can often view other messages, but I can't delete them either. Closing TB and restarting it solves the problem sometimes and I am able to use TB for a day or so and then the problem recurs. When exiting and restarting TB doesn't work, I have closed all programs and shut down the computer. After restarting the computer and reloading TB, it would function properly for a day or two but then the problem would recur. Today TB became unstable almost immediately after shutting down and restarting.

Sometimes my computer has run very slowly and I have opened Task Manager to see how much RAM is used and what processes are running. After restarting TB today, I saw that around 66,000 K of memory was being used by thunderbird.exe *32 in the column called Memory (Private Working Set). TB stopped functioning almost immediately -- I was unable to delete messages or even switch to other messages, and the message that was displayed was about a year old and was not one that I had selected or even seen for about that period of time.

I went to the Task Manager and saw the amount of Memory being used was increasing slowly. It climbed to about 650,000 K and seemed to hold there, but then started to increase again. It took about 7.5 minutes to increase from about 800,000 K to about 900,000 K. I stopped watching it after that and did something else, and when I came back about an hour and a half later, I saw the box for the Mozilla Crash Reporter.
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  • Please post your crash report ID(s)
    See https://support.mozillamessaging.com/...

    and also go through the checklist at https://wiki.mozilla.org/Thunderbird:... and report your results. TIA
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  • ced473b3-e3a2-4f76-8dfa-32071e215f3b looks like a crash report that didn't successfully get sent, and would b e from the \unsubmitted directory
    • Found this file in the \pending subdirectory under Crash Reports.
      ced473b3-e3a2-4f76-8dfa-32071e215f3b.extra
      The file with the same name but with a dmp extension had a file size of 0 KB.
      Contents of extra as view in my word processor:
      Theme=classic/1.0
      StartupTime=1295690601
      FramePoisonSize=65536
      ServerURL=https://crash-reports.mozilla.com/submit
      Add-ons={d10d0bf8-f5b5-c8b4-a8b2-2b9879e08c5d}:1.3.3,{972ce4c6-7e08-4474-a285-3208198ce6fd}:3.1.7
      ProductName=Thunderbird
      EMCheckCompatibility=true
      BuildID=20101207091341
      Version=3.1.7
      InstallTime=1292020413
      ReleaseChannel=release
      FramePoisonBase=00000000f0de0000
      CrashTime=1295696485
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    • > Can I somehow attach a PDF file containing the results?

      I don't know how you might do that. If you state you did all the steps, then perhaps just post what you think are the most helpful bits.
    • Diagnosis Steps (from https://wiki.mozilla.org/Thunderbird:...)
      I have gone through all of the steps, and none of the suggestions have corrected the problem. As a matter of fact, the problem has worsened and is now so severe that I can't effectively use Thunderbird.

      Once I lose the ability to delete a message, I am also unable to view other messages. Exiting Thunderbird and restarting it helps part of the time, shutting down the computer and restarting it also works some time, but other times I must exit Thunderbird or shut down and restart the computer several times before Thunderbird will function again for a short period.

      There is also a problem with the index. The content of new messages in the Inbox isn't displayed. Instead the header of a very old message is displayed, and the content takes a minute or two to load. This same message is displayed sometimes for up to six successive messages. In the past I have been able to read these messages if I moved them to another subdirectory, but even that doesn't work now. The same old message is still linked to the message. I have rebuilt global-messages-db.sqlite twice now, but that has had no apparent effect.

      System Recovery -- I am going to do a System Recovery of my computer this week in order to put it in its factory state when I bought it 14 months ago. I hope this eliminate files and processes that might be interfering with Thunderbird.

      My current Profile might be causing the problem and I don't want to use it after the System Recovery, since it might be contaminated. But I don't want to lose my messages, Address Book and bookmarks.
      1. What directory and files in the old Profile can I use without "infecting" the "clean" install of Thunderbird (and Firefox)?
      2. In what directory are the Address Book and bookmarks located? I didn't find them in the same location as the messages.
      3. How do I restore my messages, Address Book and bookmarks after a System Recovery?

      Details of each account
      Note: Accounts 1 and 3 use the same port. Could that cause a problem?
      1. username @gmail.com
      Server type: IMAP Mail Server
      Server name: imap.googlemail.com
      Port: 993
      Server name: imap.googlemail.com
      2. username@hotmail.com
      Server type: POP Mail Server
      Server name: pop3.live.com
      Port: 995
      3. username@cs.com
      Server type: IMAP Mail Server
      Server name: imap.aol.com
      Port: 993
      4. Local Folders - used to file (archive) messages in separate folders for each sender
      5. Outgoing Server
      Note: Microsoft Live Hotmail and AOL Mail use the same port. Could that cause a problem?
      1. Google Mail - smtp.googlemail.com (Default)
      Description: Google Mail
      Server Name: smtp.googlemail.com
      Port: 465
      2. Microsoft Live Hotmail - smtp.live.com
      Description: Microsoft Live Hotmail
      Server Name: smtp.live.com
      Port: 587
      3. AOL Mail - smtp.aol.com
      Description: AOL Mail
      Server Name: smtp.aol.com
      Port: 587

      Steps
      2. The problem is seen with antivirus software turned off.
      I disabled Microsoft Security Essentials and started to delete messages. I deleted 6 to 8 messages and then, when I clicked on the next message I wanted to delete, a message other than the one I had selected was displayed and I could not select any other message – Thunderbird froze up.

      I exited Thunderbird, went to the Task Manager, and saw that the process, thunderbird.exe *32, was still loaded. In addition, the amount of memory was increasing. During normal operation the amount of memory used is typically less than 65,000 KB. It climbed to as high as 700,000 KB, dropped to around 650,000 KB, and finally the process closed by itself.

      3. The problem is seen with firewall software disabled.
      I disabled Microsoft Firewall, restarted Thunderbird, and went back to the message I had tried to delete when Microsoft Security Essentials was disabled. As before, a message other than the one I had selected (the same one that is always displayed) was displayed and I could not select any other message – Thunderbird froze up again. The memory use climbed to over 500,000 KB when I last looked and it was still climbing.

      A message was displayed in a flag at the lower left-hand corner of the screen: “Connection to server pop3.live.com timed out”, and a note at the top of the screen stated: Mozilla Thunderbird (Not Responding). I exited Thunderbird, went to Task Manager and saw that Thunderbird's process had been closed.

      I restarted Thunderbird before enabling Microsoft Firewall and, this time, I could not even select the message I wanted to delete. The memory usage was climbing. It was at about 360,000 KB when I exited Thunderbird, but the Thunderbird process did not close at the same time. Memory usage dropped to a range between 250,000 KB and 300,000 KB, and then the process closed on its own.

      4. I use gmail, but I have never unsubscribed the "All Mail" folder?
      Unfortunate learning experience
      I knew from observation that "All Mail" contained all messages that were received and sent, even if some of them were deleted or filed in folders (that might not be accurate, but that is how it seemed to me). I have never used and don't like the folder and, since it was using a lot of memory, I decided to delete all of the messages in it. BIG MISTAKE!!

      Afterward I discovered that all of the messages in the Inbox had also been deleted. Fortunately, I also discovered that the contents of the "All Mail" folder was now in the trash folder, so the messages in the Inbox weren't really lost yet. But there were about 3,500 of them in "Trash", so the question was how to retrieve the 435 messages that had been in the Inbox.

      I decided to delete all of messages that I had sent, thinking that the remaining messages would be those that I had received. That was true, but it was also true that I LOST all sent messages that had been in my Sent folder but were not filed. (At this point I still did not understand how messages were synchronized.) I went to Gmail's website and the deleted sent messages were nowhere to be found.

      10. Memory usage is hundreds of megabytes (MB) more than normal at times, but the logging instructions aren’t complete enough (or they are too confusing for me) to get a db log with MSGDB:5,timestamp (all db diagnostics). Do I have to create a batch file? If so, how do I execute it for Thunderbird?

      12. Are any folders near the 4GB limit? Yes, there are some over the limit and some are much larger, but I read that this limit was eliminated with Thunderbird 3.1.

      WARNING: these folders exceed the maximum value
      Local folders = Charles Schwab (425.82 MB)
      Local folders = Meetup - Paris: German (479.93 MB)
      Local folders = Met Opera (1142.57 MB)
      Local folders = Travel (653.64 MB)
      waynestiefvater@gmail.com = Inbox (910.62 MB)
      waynestiefvater@gmail.com = All Mail (10402.73 MB)
      waynestiefvater@gmail.com = Sent Mail (407.37 MB)
      waynestiefvater@gmail.com = Trash (10394.27 MB)

      These were the folder sizes after deleting the contents of the All Mail folder. The only value that changed was the size for Trash. Previously, the size of Trash had been 1980.00 MB, but its size was increased as a result of deleting the All Mail folder. It is perplexing, however, that the size of the Inbox (910.62 MB) remained the same, even though it should have been zero or thereabouts.

      13. Do you have an indexing or search problem, or suspect global-messages-db.sqlite is corrupt?
      I have renamed and rebuilt the global-messages-db.sqlite file twice. The size of the sqlite file before reindexing was 133,289 KB; after reindexing it's size was in the range of 85,000 to 87,000 KB .The significant reduction in size might indicate a problem.

      There was still a severe problem both times after reindexing. When I clicked on the first new message in my Inbox, an old message was displayed -- the same old message that always appears when this problem (or series of problems) occurs. I copied the message to a subfolder of my Gmail account and was able to read it there. I then copied it back to the Inbox and was able to read it there. Sometimes I'm unable to do this because I'm unable to move the message. Sometimes moving it has no effect.
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  • > Should I disable add-ons in both Thunderbird AND Firefox as part of this procedure.

    just Thunderbird.

    the crash apparently failed both in obtaining the dump and submitting it. (and \pending is the right directory name) let's skip that. but if you crash again, please check for a crash ID
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  • > Are any folders near the 4GB limit? Yes, there are some over the limit and some are much larger, but I read that this limit was eliminated with Thunderbird 3.1.

    I'm not sure that is. I believe this is the root of all your problems.

    > The size of the sqlite file before reindexing was 133,289 KB; after reindexing it's size was in the range of 85,000 to 87,000 KB .The significant reduction in size might indicate a problem.

    most likely this is a result of you deleting half your messages - trash is not indexed

    > System Recovery -- I am going to do a System Recovery of my computer this week in order to put it in its factory state when I bought it 14 months ago. I hope this eliminate files and processes that might be interfering with Thunderbird.

    NO, don't do that.

    Do you have anything in local folders? Or pop accounts? And do you have your address book backed up?
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  • The testing memory usage wiki page has you try lots of things, but (at least as I interpret it) it assumes there is a single cause so it doesn't suggest you simplify the configuration enough so that the problem goes away and then selectively restore features/settings.

    Its possible simply reducing the size of the folders larger than 4GB might solve your problem but I suggest you:

    1. Disable global search/indexing

    2. Disable message synchronization for the IMAP accounts

    3. Reduce the maximum size of any folder (other than All Mail) to less than 4GB.

    4. Move all of the messages in the inbox to other folders/child folders

    5. Empty the trash, compact your folders and then restart Thunderbird.


    See if the crashes stop and your memory usage becomes acceptable. Then you can experiment with re-enabling features.

    If that doesn't help see Transfering data to a new profile. Sometimes when you have problems with Thunderbird and can't figure out what's wrong it's easier to create a new profile and transfer just your messages, address books, and account settings rather than keep trying to fix your existing profile.
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  • EMPLOYEE
    I’m happy folks like tanstaafl and wsmwk are around to help
    Roland Tanglao (Thunderbird Technical Support Lead) February 17, 2011 22:17
    Hi Wayne E. Stiefvater:

    I was about to suggest Compacting the problematic folders e.g. your inbox and re-indexing them but tanstaffl beat me to it :-) (thanks tanstaafl!)

    Detailed instructions to compact and re-index:
    1.select folder
    2. right click and select Compact to compact the folder
    3. if that doesn't work,try re-indexing as follows: right click | Properties... | General Information Tab | Repair Folder
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  • The 4Gb limit on folders WAS NOT lifted in 3.1.7.
    The bug that prevented them from being compacted was fixed, hence compacting can in many cases reduce the size to less that 4Gb but you still need to keep folders under 4Gb. This is one of the reasons that people are advised not to sync the Gmail ALL mail folder in Thunderbird as the folder often exceeds that limit.

    You will also find that compacting folder with the folder view set to unified will also quietly fail. (at least I have seen nothing to indicate that the bug there has been fixed). So before compacting anything I would recommend you change you folder view to ALL just to be on the safe side.
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  • > it assumes there is a single cause

    it assumes no such thing, but perhaps some wording is imprecise.. A user might easily be experiencing problems from multiple sources. It's simply a methodical list, originally ordered roughly from easiest to test or recognize and of greatest impact, to lesser impact and harder to test or recognize.

    And, originally presumed that you are coming from version 2 to version 3 and detecting a change in performance. No doubt there's still things that need to be added and changed. A makeover wouldn't hurt
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  • Wayne E. Stiefvater,
    What is your current situation?
    Did you empty your trash folder?
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  • p.s. your high memory usage is consistent with the fact that you have huge folders.
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  • Without Stiefvater's feedback I hesitate to mark this SOLVED.
    Wayne, do you agree with the following ....?

    The large folders would have caused this, especially the gmail All Mail and Trash folders, whose folder indexes total approx 2GB.

    WARNING: these folders exceed the maximum value
    Local folders = Charles Schwab (425.82 MB)
    Local folders = Meetup - Paris: German (479.93 MB)
    Local folders = Met Opera (1142.57 MB)
    Local folders = Travel (653.64 MB)
    waynestiefvater@gmail.com = Inbox (910.62 MB)
    waynestiefvater@gmail.com = All Mail (10402.73 MB)
    waynestiefvater@gmail.com = Sent Mail (407.37 MB)
    waynestiefvater@gmail.com = Trash (10394.27 MB)
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  • My apologies for taking so long to respond.

    First of all, Thunderbird is working fairly well now. Frequently (maybe once a day or every several days), I am unable to delete a message. When that occurs, I am also unable to move to and read another message. I exit and restart Thunderbird, and that takes care of the problem for a while.

    (1) The large folders might have been the problem, but I can't say definitely since I don't know how Thunderbird works.

    When I checked to see why the folders were so large, I discovered in every case that the folder itself didn't contain thousands of message, which accounted for its size, but rather it contained a single file (message) of that size. And, more importantly, that single file was created by Thunderbird.

    The files were so LARGE, that it seemed to take forever to open or to delete them, which made me think that Thunderbird simply wasn't working. It was almost impossible to delete them. I clicked on Delete, but that didn't work. Thunderbird stopped responding and I had to close it. I also tried unsuccessfully to drag them to the Trash folder or the Recycle Bin. But, after repeated attempts using all of these methods, I was finally able to remove them from my computer.

    I tried to open the files in a word processor, but they were so large that a failures occurred with either my word processor or with Thunderbird while it was being opened, except in one case. The contents of that file was a gnarled nest of thousands of messages. I tried the save it as a word processing file, but my word processor crashed during the Save.

    (2) Repairing Folders
    One of the best single pieces of advice I received with regard to this problem was to repair my folders. I've owned personal computer for 30 years and have done some database programming, and I was sure that the problem related to improper indexing. I wanted to reindex the folders, but I couldn't find "index" or "reindex" in the Knowledge Base. Why isn't "Repair Folder" a Tool instead of an option in Edit/Folder Properties, and why isn't it called "Repair/Reindex Folder"? I'm sure that the "Repair" is nothing more than "Reindex".

    Once the indexing went awry, Thunderbird seemingly entered an endless loop while it created the large files mentioned in (1) above. The only way I could get Thunderbird out of the loop was to exit the program and to end the thunderbird.exe process using Task Manager, since the process continued to run even after exiting Thunderbird.

    (3) Removing Google's All Mail folder
    http://support.mozillamessaging.com/e...

    Before I understood how the "All Mail" folder and synchronizing worked, I saw that it contained duplicates of messages in older folders and deleted it. It contained over 3,700 messages at the time, including over 850 messages from my Inbox and Sent folder, and I lost them all. You can't imagine how upset I was!

    Then I read the above article and followed the instructions. I also read in one of the forums or support groups (can't find it now) that unsynchronizing the folder only stops "All Mail" from being displayed in Thunderbird, but it doesn't delete the file in which messages are (or were) stored on the computer. I followed the instructions and removed that file. But that is a separate step that maybe should be explained in this article.

    Thereafter, I hit something (probably Ctrl-A) and the "All-Mail" folder re-appeared. There should be some way to deactivate the Archive folder!! I have unsynchronized it again, but I'm wary about deleting the "All Mail" folder now, even after unsychronizing it, without specific instructions and/or assurances that messages in other folders won't also be deleted. I don't want another nightmare.

    This is a long response, but it is only a small part of the notes I took in unraveling this problem. Please contact me, preferably by e-mail, if you have other questions.

    PS You are right that the Diagnostic Steps should be re-written. I found that they are often inaccurate and internally inconsistent.
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  • "When I checked to see why the folders were so large, I discovered in every case that the folder itself didn't contain thousands of message, which accounted for its size, but rather it contained a single file (message) of that size. And, more importantly, that single file was created by Thunderbird"

    Some email clients store every message in a separate file (.eml), some store all of the messages for a folder in one file (mbox), some store all messages in one file (.pst), and some use more complex schemes or a database.

    Thunderbird uses a single flat plain text file called a mbox file (named after the format it uses) to store all of the messages for a folder. It stores messages in their original Internet Message (RFC 2822) format rather than converting them to some other format.

    The mbox file is named after the folder, and has no file extension. For example, "inbox." contains all of the messages for the inbox folder in that account. See Edit large mbox files for some text editors that can edit 2GB files. You might find JujuEdit easiest to use since its GUI is similar to Notepad. If you open that file you should see that it contains multiple messages, though its very user unfriendly because nothing is being interpreted and it has lots of headers that are normally hidden.

    Its a bad idea to store lots of messages in your inbox because the combination of lots of deletions and many messages makes it prone to corruption, and it drastically decreases performance due to the large file size. Despite the so called *.msf index file there is no index/table that Thunderbird can use to jump to a specific message in a mbox file. When it wants to find a specific message it scans the file from the every beginning, parsing its contents to figure out where a message begins and ends, while looking for the appropriate header in messages.

    This is one of the reasons why if you compact a folder that is badly corrupted you can lose all of its messages. It gets confused where the deleted message it is physically removing ends so it removes the remainder of the file. "Deleted" messages aren't actually deleted until you compact the folder, they are just marked as deleted and hidden from view in order to improve performance. This isn't an oddity of Thunderbird, other email clients such as Outlook Express do the same thing.

    Some of the symptoms of a corrupt folder are deleted messages get resurrected, you can't delete a message, Thunderbird appears to hang because it gets caught in a loop parsing the mbox file, or you see message fragments.

    I suggest you move most of the messages in your inbox to other folders/child folders, and consider creating archive folders for old messages in any large folders in order to reduce their size.
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  • Thanks for your explanation, but it doesn't account for huge files in small local folders. I can't comment on the gmail.com folders since the contents were all deleted.

    But look at the sizes of the Local folders below as indicated by the utility program to detect large files.

    WARNING: these folders exceed the maximum value
    Local folders = Charles Schwab (425.82 MB)
    Local folders = Meetup - Paris: German (479.93 MB)
    Local folders = Met Opera (1142.57 MB)
    Local folders = Travel (653.64 MB)
    waynestiefvater@gmail.com = Inbox (910.62 MB)
    waynestiefvater@gmail.com = All Mail (10402.73 MB)
    waynestiefvater@gmail.com = Sent Mail (407.37 MB)
    waynestiefvater@gmail.com = Trash (10394.27 MB)

    These are in reality very small folders and don't contain many messages. For example, the local folder "Meetup - Paris: German", which I use to "archive" messages from the Inbox, has two subdirectories and contains a total of 18 messages with a combined size of 816 KB. But I deleted a single message from that folder with a size of 479.93 MB. The local folder "Met Opera" contains 2 messages with a combined size of 5 KB. Still, I deleted a single message from that folder containing 1142.57 MB. Where did these "messages" come from?

    It was one of these large message that I was able to open and view in Thunderbird. I cut and pasted the contents of the message into my word processor, WordPerfect, since it was too cumbersome to try to view in Thunderbird. But its size also made it cumbersome to view in WordPerfect, and the program crashed when I tried to save it.

    Your explanation of the mbox file relates, I believe, to what one sees in the Mail folder under my Profile, but not to what I see in Thunderbird itself. I didn't delete mboxes (mozmsgs) in the Mail folder under my Profile, I deleted huge "messages" that were in local folders along with other messages that had been saved there. Apart from the huge individual messages in the local folders, the folder size utility didn't find a single folder (mbox) that was too large.

    When you suggest that I create archive folders to save messages, are you referring to local folders like those above? Do you distinguish between local folders and archive folders. I move messages occasionally from Inbox and Sent Mail to local folders. But sometimes hundreds of messages accumulate before I have time to answer them or to save them in local folders. It's not my intent to store them there.
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  • - mbox is not a file extension/type. and mozmsgs is not an "mbox" file. iirc mozmsgs files are message files used for windows indexed searching.
    - any word processing program is probably a poor choice to use for opening an extremely large text file.
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