Outlook Express ate some of my mail... why, and why only some of it?
October 17, 2007 2:40 PM   Subscribe

Outlook Express (Win XP) deleted some of my inbox... a few months worth of mail. Not your standard "lost my whole folder" corrupted-file type of problem, I'm suddenly missing the last 4 months of mail. Desperate!

What's strange is that it's not obvious why my email is intact after June, and then disappears through October.

They're not in the "deleted emails" folder, and they're not accidentally in some other foder either... there were over 4000 unread emails (don't ask!)

If anyone has any theories as to what might have happened or how to fix it, much much appreciated. Also if you know somewhere better I should be asking this question, I'll take that too.

Thank much
posted by cloudscratcher to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
This happened to me last year. Sometimes Outlook makes you do this weird "auto-archive" thing. I wish I could explain better but at the time I was traumatized until my resourceful coworker found all my archived emails somewhere...
posted by SassHat at 2:49 PM on October 17, 2007

I bet they were auto-archived as SassHat stated. Try looking near your Temporary Internet Folder, I am pretty sure they go near there. Then reset your settings to always ask before it auto-archives. Sorry I can't be of more help.
posted by ForeverDcember at 2:51 PM on October 17, 2007

You can also do a search for the e-mail subjects if you recall some off the top your head. Sometimes they "magically" disappear or change locations and they can be found this way.
posted by jmd82 at 3:09 PM on October 17, 2007

yep, pretty decent bet that those emails got auto-archived (it'd be nice if Outlook told you, "Hey, if you accept my auto-archive offer, I'm gonna stick some of your mail where you can't easily see it", but what are you gonna do?).

Here's a step by step (scroll down) for opening your auto-archived items.
posted by fishfucker at 3:56 PM on October 17, 2007

Response by poster: those are great places to start, but it's Outlook Express, rather than Outlook... so it's not an "auto-archive" issue (which I recall, and fear, from Outlook)

Any other thoughts, given that it's OE?

Thanks for the advice thus far...
posted by cloudscratcher at 4:21 PM on October 17, 2007

Do an *.dbx search on your computer. That's where Outlook Express is storing your data. The default path is C:\Documents and Settings\[your profile name]\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{big long string of numbers and letters}\Microsoft\Outlook Express. Maybe your message store somehow got moved to a non-default location?
posted by Cyrano at 5:22 PM on October 17, 2007

And if you do find more that one .dbx, check the creation date on the non-default location one to see if it jives with the dates of the missing mail.
posted by Cyrano at 5:24 PM on October 17, 2007

And search the registry for .dbx (disclaimer about the registry being the most fragile part of your computer, never delete anything there, you're screwed if you do), which will show you al of the .dbx files that OE thinks you have. You can use that as a reference point. I had to mees with these extensively for my mom when upgrading her to outlook- it only took one of the 6 dbx files when I ran the upgrade.
posted by Four Flavors at 10:06 PM on October 17, 2007

This happened to my previous boss. We found that the dbx file had been corrupted. All of his new emails instantly disappeared. No solution was found in OE, but we were able to recover everything by importing the file into Thunderbird (which then made it impossible to export someplace else). Outlook did not work, only Thunderbird.
posted by FuManchu at 7:52 AM on October 18, 2007

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