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Backing up Your Email Folder in Thunderbird on Windows XP/2000

You should routinely backup your Thunderbird mail folder if you store your email messages on your computer.

Messages are stored on your computer under the following circumstances:

  • You download your messages using the POP protocol, or
  • You use the IMAP protocol, and copy or move messages from the email server to one of Thunderbird's "Local Folders."

If your computer's hard disk malfunctions, you will lose all data stored on it, including your Thunderbird mail folder. To prepare for such catastrophes, you should routinely copy your personal data, including your Thunderbird email folder, to an external storage device, such as a USB flash drive or external hard disk.

The following instructions will assist you in backing up your Thunderbird email folder.

Locate Your Mail Folder

First, locate your mail folder by navigating to your Thunderbird profile using Windows Explorer.  The default location is:

C:\Documents and Settings\{your-Windows-login-name}\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\{your-Profile-name}\

The default profile name is a string of 8 random characters followed by ".default".

For example, in the screenshot below, Windows Explorer displays the contents of the Thunderbird profile for a person with a Windows login name of "login" and a default profile name of "1gb5e5tz.default".


Within your Thunderbird profile folder, locally stored messages are in the folder named "Mail".

Backup Your Mail Folder

Now that you have located your mail folder, you must back it up by copying it to an external storage device.
  1. Make sure the Thunderbird application is not running. If it is running, you should quit Thunderbird.
  2. On your external storage device, create a new folder with a descriptive name, such as "Mail Backup 12-19-2006".
  3. Using Windows Explorer, copy the "Mail" folder from your Thunderbird profile folder, to the new folder you just created on your external storage device.
  4. You have now successfully created a backup copy of your Thunderbird email folder.
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Article ID: 616
Created: Fri, 04 Aug 2006 12:01am
Modified: Tue, 18 Mar 2008 1:04pm