Lost Email Folders

Important Note: If you are still using Outlook Express, I urge you to migrate to another safer email program. There are several email programs that are free and will not cause as many problems as Outlook Express.  A popular replacement for Outlook Express is Thunderbird.

There are several ways folders and messages can be lost from Outlook Express.  If Outlook Express is open and your computer crashes, some stuff may be corrupted and folders disappear. If Outlook Express is 'compacting' and Outlook Express is closed during this process, corruption can occur and again, stuff is 'gone'. The power may go out, Outlook Express is open and you don't have your computer hooked up to a UPS. (Battery backup or Uninterruptible Power Source)

Here is a step by step way that 'may' recover 'lost' messages.

First enable viewing hidden files and folders.

In your Documents folder, create a new folder and name it Outlook Express Store. Open Outlook Express, select Tools/Options and click the Maintenance tab. Look for the button 'Store Folder' and click the button. The dialog that appears tells you where your personal message store is located. Now click the Change button and browse to the new folder you just created and click ok.

Close Outlook Express, re-open Outlook Express and close it again. Go to the new folder and open it to be sure your folders are all located in the new location. (This is also a big help when you want to backup your Outlook Express, you know where it is!)

With Outlook Express closed, go back to My Documents and create another new folder and name it OE Backup. Scroll to the Outlook Express Store folder, open the folder, select all of the files, COPY and paste the files into the OE Test folder.

Now open Outlook Express click File and select Import/Messages. When the Outlook Express import screen opens, select Outlook Express 6.
Screenshot

On the Specify Location in the Import From OE6, change 'Import mail from an OE Identity to Import Mail from an OE6 store Directory.  This MUST be selected for the import to work.
Screenshot

(If you receive the message in this Screenshot, you forgot to change Import from an OE Store Directory)

Now tell Outlook Express Import where the messages are located. (In your new OE Backup folder)
Screenshot

Choose which folder/folders to import. Here just the Inbox was wanted. Screenshot However, all of the available folders should be listed and you can select just the folders you want.  Please be aware, if you select All folders, you will have many duplicates in Outlook Express.

If all goes well, you will see the Import Complete screen.
Screenshot

It is entirely possible the Inbox was too corrupted for this procedure to work. If this is the case you can try some third party fixes, DBExtract. This utility isn't free, but costs only $14.00.

Troubleshooting the Inbox Part 1

Troubleshooting the Inbox Part 2