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Emails Disappearing from Thunderbird Inbox

Discussion in 'Web & Email' started by mariamonk, Jun 17, 2010.

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  1. mariamonk

    mariamonk Thread Starter

    Jun 17, 2010
    My emails disappeared right before my eyes from my Thunderbird email inbox yesterday.
    I am desperate and would like to retrieve my emails.
    I have tried compacting and also reindexing and neither of those brought my emails back.

    I also tried to delete the inbox.msf file but am not quite sure if I got the right one. Still no
    return of my emails when I restarted Thunderbird after deleting the inbox.msf file.

    Would anyone have a detailed step by step set of instructions to deleting the inbox.msf file that they can share with me? I have some emails that I absolutely have to retrieve and today is only day 2 so I feel the longer I take to get things back the less my chances will be of restoring my email profile to what it was before all the emails disappeared.

    Help please, and thank you.
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  3. hewee


    Oct 26, 2001
    Read all of this first and do not delete anything and backup the email first.

    You can delete all the default .msf files and they get rebuild the next time you open Thunderbird and then click on inbox etc., but Thunderbird has to be close when you delete the file.
    Also any folder you make your have to re-make so you may want to start by renaming all your folder by adding -old to the file name.


    Restore Netscape or Mozilla Deleted Mail •• Only Under Specific Conditions

    Darn Restore Netscape or Mozilla Deleted Mail •• Detailed Explanation, Page 2. is a dead link.

    She changed sites from AT&T and losted links. Other links point to old site. :(

    This is what should help.
    Manually Transfer Mail Files

    Mail Account Folder Location

    Now you may of screwed up compress the files because the inbox file (Not the .msf but other "file" ) because it is one long file with all the email in that folder and the .msf is like the folder and an index of what is in that file or folder.
    So even old delete email could still show up in that file. You have to go to where ever windows 7 has the thunderbird profile and darn it is not list here Mail Account Folder Location but that is easy to find because you seem to know and if you don't then open Thunderbird and and go to Tools and Account Setting. It will show in the right side where it is at.

    Do not delete the .msf yet but try this below.

    You want to work with a copy so back up your profile mail.
    Then rename the folder by adding -old and make new folder with the with the name the way you want it to be or with the -old so it is like it is now.
    Now open each folder and cope the email from inbox-old to inbox.
    Now you are working with a copy.

    Also have you used the mail search to see if you have it by searching all folders?

    Then with notepad or what ever to read text you want to click on inbox file from the profile and hold down the Shift key and then when you see the "Open With" pick notepad, wordpad to open the file. It can be a very long file so notepad my not work. Your see all the email in your inbox in that one file and even pass emails that are no longer in the folder. But compress cleans that up and I think deleting the .msf because the "File" get rebuild.

    MozBackup is a great program to use to backup.
  4. mariamonk

    mariamonk Thread Starter

    Jun 17, 2010
    Thank you for coming to my rescue.

    Before I start I would like to know if I can just delete the inbox.msf files since the problem is only with my inbox. All my other sub-folders are okay and I am afraid of deleting the .msf files for all these other folders and then when I start up Thunderbird again now start to experience problems with my other folders and lose stuff there.

    I am really only comfortable with deleting the inbox msf file only, I really don't want to touch the other ones since I am not having any problems with them.

    Will that work to just delete the inbox one or do I have to delete all the folders as you suggest?

  5. TerryNet

    TerryNet Terry Moderator

    Mar 23, 2005
    With Thunderbird closed delete the inbox.msf and see how you make out. :)
  6. throoper

    throoper Trusted Advisor

    Jan 20, 2007
    Hi mariamonk,

    Yes. You can just do the Inbox.msf.
    It won't hurt to do the others (a new one will be created), but it's not necessary.

    T. :)
  7. hewee


    Oct 26, 2001
    Make a copy of the inbox and inbox.msf first.

    You do not want to delete and .msf files right now because when you do that it rebuild the .msf file to show what if really in that folder and what was in the folder.

    Like the inbox "file" has all the emails in the inbox. (I am talking about looking at the file in your profile and not in the Thunderbird program.)
    Can you right click holding the shift key and open the inbox "file" in wordpad and then look and see if your email is there? Do a search to help out.

    But anyhow you can after the search delete the inbox.msf

    To know better what I mean open Thunderbird up and make a new folder call TESTING
    Now make a short message or just copy your first post here and save it.

    Now go to the Drift folder and move or copy it to you TESTING folder.

    Now go to your Profile and your see the TESTING "file and TESTING.msf file.

    Right click and open the file and your see your email in that file.

    Now with Thunderbird open look and your see the TESTING and the size it takes up.

    Delete the test message.
    Now go in the profile and right click the TESTING "file and your see the email is still in the TESTING "file but is not in the thunder bird testing folder because you deleted it. Note the file size has not changed but you just don't see it because you lost the index to it and the index info is in the .msf file.
    Now move the testing email back to the testing folder from the trash.
    Look from within thunderbird and your see the email again and it is just the one same email.
    But look at the file size and your see it got bigger.
    Now go to the profile and right click the file and open it in notepad and your see that very same email is listed twice.
    That very same email will show up in every folder you moved the email to and can show up again in the same folder if you move the email around.

    Now delete the TESTING.msf file with thunderbird close and open Thunderbird back up and your see the file size is smaller again.
    Also if you open it by right click the testing file in notepad you now only see the email one time.
    So you see a new .msf file will delete other pass email that are not really there and when you have a email you can not see then that is the same thing so never compact or delete the .msf file.

    I think compacting has the very same effect as deleting the .msf file.
    If I am wrong then your email is still there if you did not delete the inbox.msf file. So do not delete it and back it up and we will work with a copy of the file.

    When I delete email and even delete email from the trash I click the delete button. You can not see the email because you delete it but look at the trash file and it's still there. If you had use the empty or compact or deleted the .msf file then the email is history.
  8. hewee


    Oct 26, 2001
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