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Old 14th September 2005   #1
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Where/how is Outlook Express mail stored?


admin note - moved from 2K to here.

Anybody know details of getting Outlook Express mail from an old Windows installation to a new one?

A cyber-clueless friend wanted to upgrade from Windows 98, so he bought an additional hard drive, made it the primary master, and installed Windows 2000 Professional on it.

Now he wants to grab his email (and address book, etc.) from the old drive, which is still in there as the primary slave. But I can't figure out how or where it is stored. Everything I read on this topic requires you to have already done a backup from within (the old) Outlook Express first. And we can't do that because 98 won't boot anymore; I get the "has generated errors and will be shut down" message from Explorer, and then it hangs, even in Safe Mode.

Maybe I'm spoiled by Eudora, but seems like it should be just a matter of moving a bunch of files into a different folder. Isn't there a setting under options in Outlook Express for where the data is to be stored?

I read somewhere that they are stored as .dbx files, and these do show up in a search, but strangely, I can't navigate to them in Explorer. It's like some intermediate folders in the path are hidden.

I would appreciate if someone who understands Outlook Express better than I do can provide a solution. It's OE 6, I believe.

(Plan B: If there's no other alternative, can I do a repair on Windows 98 that might fix it enough to boot to the desktop without clobbering the data and run OE?)

Thanks,
Ted

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Old 14th September 2005   #2
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Well the simple method and best is to boot to the old OS and launch OE and choose File/ export and export them. Then save this to somewhere you can find it (or a removable drive such as USB or even a CDR or CDRW ) .
Then boot to the new OS and access the file and right click and make sure that the read only attribute is not checked (you have to copy it from CDR to the hard drive to do this)
and then launch OE and do file / import.


Outlook Express saves each folder in your email as a single compressed .dbx file . They are located in C:\Windows\Application data\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{big long number}\Microsoft\Outlook Express in 98
and
C:\Documents and Settings\your account name\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{big long number}\Microsoft\Outlook Express in XP/2k

Note that you really should not just copy the .dbx files but should instead use the import and export wizards.

Your address book is the .wab file
C:\windows\applicationdata\Microsoft\Address Book
in 98

C:\Documents and Settings\User name \Application Data\Microsoft\Address Book XP/2k

Same thing, best to use the export/ import wizards.

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Old 15th September 2005   #3
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Lightbulb

OK seems to be pretty messed up. But if you have twin OS, then you can try using the Dual Boot system. Otherwise as said by oshwyn5. Its the best thing to do. But the thing is why are you not able to access the primary slave, check the jumper settings and may be you should be able to access the slave HDD.

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Old 15th September 2005   #4
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Thanks, lot of very helpful info.

Originally Posted by oshwyn5
Well the simple method and best is to boot to the old OS and launch OE and choose File/ export and export them.
Yes, I know that, and would love to do that, but, as I indicated above, the old OS won't boot. It is messed up, which is exactly why my friend wanted to stop using it.

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Old 15th September 2005   #5
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Originally Posted by dax4u
But the thing is why are you not able to access the primary slave, check the jumper settings and may be you should be able to access the slave HDD.
The jumpers are fine, there is no problem accessing the HDD. But, as I indicated above, the Windows 98 os on it won't boot.

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Old 15th September 2005   #6
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Hi Ted
Quote:
stored as .dbx files, and these do show up in a search
if that means FileFinder: you can right-click on files showing in the FileFinder results window and choose "Copy" - then paste them (into Windows Explorer) somewhere on the master HDD where you know they will be easy to locate

can select several dbx files at a time by 1) click the top one, then 2) hold down Shift while you left-click the bottom one (like you would in Windows Explorer) - then "pick them up" all together with a right-click on the selected block of files

HTH

best wishes, HJ


Last edited by Hugh Jarss; 15th September 2005 at 06:08. Reason: clarity
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Old 15th September 2005   #7
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Originally Posted by Hugh Jarss
Hi Ted if that means FileFinder
I don't know what you mean by "FileFinder". I use the plain old Windows Search: Start --> Search --> for Files and Folders.

The .dbx files show up in search results (with the entire path name), but I can't seem to navigate to that path in an Explorer window. Some of the intermediate folders (Local Settings) are not showing.

I was thinking I had to do that to get to where to paste them so OE would find them. But I realize this morning (I think) that that's what OE Import is for. Right?

So if that is true, I wouldn't think there is really any need to copy them anywhere.

Best wishes to you too, and thanks.

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Old 15th September 2005   #8
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Hi again
Quote:
I don't know what you mean by "FileFinder". I use the plain old Windows Search: Start --> Search --> for Files and Folders
that's what I meant by FileFinder - you can copy files directly from the results of your Search for Files and Folders, and then paste them into a (separate) Windows Explorer window.

as you say though, no need to copy as long as you can navigate OK to the old dbx files during the import process.

The folders which are not showing in Windows Explorer, should be visible in the box you use to navigate to the old dbx files for importing.

best wishes, HJ

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Old 15th September 2005   #9
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Originally Posted by pianoman1948
The jumpers are fine, there is no problem accessing the HDD. But, as I indicated above, the Windows 98 os on it won't boot.
Okay, so you cannot boot to it, but you have it set up as a slave drive? D: ?
Just change the drive letter in what I posted
D:\Windows\Application data\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{big long number}\Microsoft\Outlook Express

I would use DBXtract free edition
To extract a copy of each file to a folder (This will expand the contents and save all the email inside as .eml files)


Then try the copy and paste from the old account folder to the new.

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Old 15th September 2005   #10
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Originally Posted by oshwyn5
Okay, so you cannot boot to it, but you have it set up as a slave drive? D: ?
Yes. (Well, initially we set it up as the master, so that the machine would try to boot from the 98 installation on it. When that didn't work, we switched the two drives back. It is now the slave.

Originally Posted by oshwyn5
Just change the drive letter in what I posted
D:\Windows\Application data\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{big long number}\Microsoft\Outlook Express
Thanks for your patience. I was thinking I needed to navigate to the folder where OE expects to look for email so I could manually paste the .dbx files into it. I guess I finally got it through my head that that's what Import is for.

Alternatively, someone in another forum pointed out to me that you *can* change the location where OE looks for the "current" mailboxes:Tools -> Options ->Maintenance tab --> Store Folder. Does that sound correct? Couldn't I just change that and access the old dbx files right where they are, without moving, copying or importing them?

Thanks very much.

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Old 15th September 2005   #11
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Hi Ted
Quote:
Tools > Maintenance > Store Folder
...
Couldn't I just change that and access the old dbx files
yes you can but CAREFUL! - it's not straightforward

what happens when you ask Outlook Express to change the location of the store folder is that your current mailboxes get shifted into the location you have specified

(they get shifted next time you start Outlook Express)

if the names of the files clash you will probably end up in trouble

far better to do it by importing - this clears up other potential problems at the same time

particularly in your case, with files not getting found on the old HDD

==

it is indeed possible to "take over" the old mailboxes with care and a bit of cunning

what I usually do is
- make a new blank folder adjacent to the old mailboxes folder, call it whatever I want the final result called;
- tell OE to use this new blank folder;
- close OE; restart OE (shifts the current mailboxes to the new blank folder);
- close OE;
- use Windows Explorer to rename:
1) new folder (now with with current mailboxes) to something else;
2) old mailbox folder to whatever I had called the new folder previously (and told OE to use as the store folder)

then the next time OE starts up it "finds" the old mailboxes in the changed store location...

phew!


best wishes, HJ


Last edited by Hugh Jarss; 16th September 2005 at 01:09.
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Old 16th September 2005   #12
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Thanks very much for the plan.

Originally Posted by Hugh Jarss
Hi Ted yes you can but CAREFUL! - it's not straightforward
Right, and that stinks! grrrrr, Bill Gates and Windows strike again. That is why I use Eudora. Much simpler and more straightforward.

Now, what about the address book? Can something similar be done with that?

Thanks .....

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Old 16th September 2005   #13
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shifting the address book - ie changing the location you want Windows to keep the address book (for Win98 anyway) - is done by altering one registry key

- close Outlook Express and the Address Book;
- copy the WAB file to wherever you want it to end up;
- (then) alter the registry key;

it's probably along the same lines for Win2000, but as I have no "hands-on" with that flavour of Windows, I defer to folks who know it better.

==

what you will be able to do (from within Outlook Express) is import an old address book

(File > Import > Address Book, and then you browse to wherever the old address book is)

best wishes, HJ

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Old 6th October 2005   #14
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Ok, the instructions I needed were posted in another forum:
Quote:
Show Hidden Files and Folders may need to be enabled.

Do a Search on the old drive for .dbx files.
Copy or Move *All* the .dbx files to a folder on the Desktop.
Start Outlook Express and Import the messages
File > Import > Messages > Microsoft Outlook Express 6 > Next
Select: Import from an OE6 store directory
Click: OK
Browse to the folder containing the recovered .dbx files on the Desktop.
I finally got my friend's computer to the point where I could try this. I found his .dbx files via the search, so I didn't have to navigate to them in Explorer.

I copied-and-pasted them to another location, then imported into Outlook Express as explained above. I did get a couple errors, which went away when I quit trying to think independently and followed the instructions exactly:

1. Copy to the desktop (not some other folder)
2. Copy *all* the files, not just select one or two

As soon as I did both of those, everything worked fine.

Thanks,
Ted

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