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Outlook Express: How can I recover my e-mails?

Discussion in 'Web & Email' started by wgreene, Aug 31, 2005.

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  1. wgreene

    wgreene Thread Starter

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2001
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    Recently I had been repeatedly getting pop-up windows asking if I wanted to compact e-mail folders in order to save space. Each time I would simply close this box and continue what I had been doing. Last night I thought I X'd out of the box again, only to notice that the compacting process had begun. At that point I let it continue and went to bed. At that time I had 200 unread e-mails in my Inbox

    This morning I went back to my PC and immediately noticed that I had only 61 unread messages in my Inbox. At first, I couldn't understand how I could've lost all those messages. Then I suddenly remembered the compacting process and figured out that that was the source of my problem.

    Today I've been doing research and trying some things, but I still haven't been able to recover everything. In fact, as I was trying one thing and another I noticed that all of my Outlook Express Local Folders, all of a sudden, were completely empty! In other words, the remaining files from this morning are also gone. I am mainly concerned about the contents of my Inbox, which this morning had been missing all e-mails between August 15th and August 30th.

    I had been running two programs, DBXtract.exe and Macallan Outook Express Extraction, but wasn't able to follow their instructions all the way through. On my Desktop I currently have a Macallan OEE icon which opens into a large, lined window with columns. Also on my Desktop is an icon for a folder I created and named "eml files." Inside this folder are six .dbx files and seven .dbx folders. The file names are: (1) Folders; (2) Inbox; (3) Offline; (4) Outbox; (5) Pop3uidi, and (6) Sent Items. I would like to know how to get the files from my Macallan window back over into my OE Local Folders.

    I am able to drag and open these .dbx files in the Macallan window. At this point I am not sure as to how I should proceed. I see an Extractions option at the top of the Macallan window, which I figure is what I should use next. If so, how exactly do I extract these files and where are they extracted to?

    Another thing I've noticed is that when using Mcallan I seem to have access to perhaps all of the Outgoing messages I had been missing, which is fine, but I seem to have recovered few, if any, of my Incoming messages. As I mentioned above, my main concern is getting back the Incoming messages, if that is indeed possible. Perhaps there is another program which would do the trick. I see that DBXtract has a $5.00 version available, but I wonder if it would be much more effective than the free version. Perhaps there are other programs, free or otherwise, which might prove useful. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who might have a helpful suggesion. Thank you very much.
     
  2. sekirt

    sekirt

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2003
    Messages:
    3,998
    Based on your description, I will assume you have Windows XP SP2.

    Compacting is similar to Defragging.
    OE is a Database program. When you delete messages from your folders in OE, the actual files that hold the information, only mark that item for removal later. Most databases work that way. Those OE files have the extension .DBX. They will continue to grow in size with wasted space, if not compacted. While compacting saves disk space, the main reason to compact is to help keep OE running smoothly and prevent corruption of the .DBX files. Compacting does nothing to your existing emails. Caution: Improper compacting can destroy your emails. When compacting by any method, leave your computer alone until it finishes. You should always check off, 'work offline' or actually be offline before compacting. Do not use any programs or open or close anything once it starts until it finishes.

    Manual compacting is available in all versions of OE. This is the best method to compact OE. Be sure you are offline or that offline is checked in
    File->Work Offline. Then click File->Folder->Compact all folders.

    If you have XP SP2, you will get a prompt to compact after 100 OE closings, which you should do. Then you should not be prompted again until OE is used 100 times.

    If you don't want to compact for reasons of your own and you are skilled in using the registry, check for the info at this key:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Identities\{GUID for Identity}\Software\Microsoft\Outlook Express\5.0

    Look in the right hand pane of the registry for "Compact Check Count" and
    reset its value to zero [0] and you will not be bothered again until the count of
    opening/closing again approaches 100.

    You maintain a questionable practice if any of the default folders are used for long time storage of large amounts of emails (Inbox/Outbox/Sent Items/Deleted Items/Draft). OE is known for emails disappearing particularly from the Inbox. Custom folders should be used.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Moving on to your specific problem(s)...

    System Restore has sometimes recovered emails and related files. Give that a try.

    How to restore the operating system to a previous state in Windows XP
    http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;Q306084
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    You have progressed to knowing about DBX files, where to find them and programs to recover emails. Sounds like you know about Tom Koch's site. This is about all he shows for this particular problem.

    Messages in Inbox or other mail folders disappear.
    http://insideoe.tomsterdam.com/problems/bugs.htm#mailgone

    Probably no real advantage to purchase DBXtract. DBXtract seems the most straight forward to use of the 2 programs you mention.

    Here is how I would use DBXtract. Rather than the desktop, I create a
    folder for DBXtract and work within that folder. C:\DBXTRACT
    Place copies of all the DBX files you want to recover from in that folder. Run DBXtract on 1 DBX file at a time. When the emails from that file are extracted, they should have the extension .eml. To get .eml files back into email form, you can just drag them back into an OE folder. Then proceed to do the same with the other DBX files. Open Windows Explorer side-by-side with OE. Highlight all the eml files you want to move and drag them to a custom folder.

    I thought this was a nice find. If this makes things easier instead of complicating the matter, it is freeware, download and see what you think.

    OE Viewer is for Microsoft Outlook Express 5/6 message database files (.dbx).

    Just browse for the .dbx file, open it and the program will display a list of all
    contained messages and their header. You can choose to view the messages
    in text or HTML view, sort them and also save them as standard .eml files.
    Additional features include support for attachments and printing.


    http://www.mitec.cz/Downloads/OEView.zip
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    If you are going to use Macallan, the same procedure would apply. Better to work inside a folder and 1 DBX file at a time. You are using this program file? WOE5Extract.exe?

    The advantage is that you can see a recreation of the email by double-clicking. I really haven't used Macallan but here is what I know about it. Once you double click and open up an email, you can save it by clicking File and choosing Save As.... Then put it in whatever folder you want. I would suggest for simplicity, keep it either in the same folder or create a sub-folder. Click the drop-down to the correct extension you want to save in. In my case it would be HTML files.

    OR you can highlight all the emails you want at one time. I believe Macallan will create a sub-folder with the same name as the DBX file. If it was called BOB.dbx then a sub-folder called BOB should appear and it will extract the emails to there.

    You have several options for extracting. If you have some with attachments and some without, I believe you can choose to save messages and attachments. They should all extract whether they did or did not have an attachment. I don't know how you have it create the proper extension using this method.

    If I missed something, post back.

    sekirt
     
  3. wgreene

    wgreene Thread Starter

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2001
    Messages:
    989
    Thank you very much for your response.

    Yes, I do have Windows XP Pro, SP 2.

    It's late so I'll read thru your message just before going to sleep, and I'll plan on posting here again tomorrow evening, if not sooner.

    Thanks again.
     
  4. wgreene

    wgreene Thread Starter

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2001
    Messages:
    989
    Unfortunately, System Restore did not recover my e-mails. I'll try something else tonight and post my results.
     
  5. sekirt

    sekirt

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2003
    Messages:
    3,998
    One additional note:

    Go to Start->Find (or Search) and look for *.dbt files. For WinXP you will have to set the search to include hidden files and folders. DBXtract should open those. Perhaps the missing emails will show up.

    sekirt
     
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