Tip of the day: Find your e-mail folder fast

Do you know where your e-mail messages are stored? That’s not just a theoretical question. If e-mail matters to you, you need to back up the files containing your messages so that you can restore them in the event of a hard disk crash or other problem. Here’s how to find your e-mail files with three popular programs:

  • Microsoft Outlook 2003: With Outlook closed, open Control Panel and double-click Mail. In the Mail Setup dialog box, click Data Files and then click Open Folder. This opens Windows Explorer using the folder where your Outlook Personal Stores (PST) file is located. The default name is Outlook.pst. Back up that file, which contains all your messages, rules, contacts, and appointments.
  • Outlook Express: Open Outlook Express and click Tools, Options. Click the Store Folder… button and highlight the entire string contained in the Store Location box. Press Ctrl+C to copy this location to the Windows Clipboard. Close all open dialog boxes, open Windows Explorer, and paste that location in the Address bar. Back up the complete contents of this folder, which contains all of your messages. Note that it does not contain your Address Book, which must be backed up separately.
  • Mozilla Thunderbird: Click Start, Run. In the Open box, type %appdata%\Thunderbird\Profiles and click OK. Windows Explorer opens, showing the contents of your Profiles folder. In a normal installation, this should contain a single folder with a random name (like uepsg00s) followed by .default. Copy this folder, which contains all settings and data for Thunderbird. You can restore it in the event of a crash.

If you use another e-mail program and you know how to find its data files, leave details in the comments section.

2 thoughts on “Tip of the day: Find your e-mail folder fast

  1. Many thanks for the tip. It’s made my life a lot easier already. But (1) I’ve often wondered, never having had to restore the email folder, does it contain the email attachments that came with the emails (such as jpg photos, word documents, etc.) or does one have to back these up separately, just like the address book? Also (2) when backing up the address book I can only seem to get a back-up for the whole address book – I can’t get the back-up subdivided into the addresses for each of the various identities. This means that when I restore the address book (as I have had to do) each identity gets the total set of addresses not just their own – a right nuisance I can tell you. I use Outlook Express. Kind regards, Anthony Harvey.

  2. Anthony, in all of these programs, attachments are stored along with the messages themselves. So when you restore from a backed-up file, you should get all your attachments as well.

    As for the Address Book, I don’t have an easy answer at hand. Maybe someone else can chime in here?

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