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Outlook Express 6 Problem

I had problems with Outlook Express 6 because I had too many email in the system. I clicked on a line that said "compact email". When I did that all my email disappeared, but then Outlook worked again. Where did the email go? Can I retrieve some that I wanted to save? Please help me!!

Computer Help's picture

Bad News...

Hello Mary C,

Very bad news but you have lost all of your emails for good probably. When you compact the emails and they disappear, it means Outlook was interrupted before it could compact all of your emails. Sometimes this process can take a very long time. The end result is half of your emails are compacted and the others are not. This leaves you with a corrupted email database that Outlook can read or load.

Don't Interrupt the Process

It is important that the process of compacting folders is not interrupted. If allowed to finish, compacting ensures that your Outlook Express runs smoothly and disk space is not wasted in too excessive a manner.

There are steps you can take to prevent this from happening in the future:

Microsoft currently offers a patch to assist you in backing up your emails and protecting you from losing all of them.


The link above allows you to download the patch for this process.

Steps to recovery if needed

* Make sure Outlook Express is not running.
* Open the Recycle Bin on your Windows Desktop.
* Locate the ".bak" files corresponding to the Outlook Express folders you want to recover.
o The ".bak" file will be named like the folder in Outlook Express.
o To restore a folder called "Archive", look for "Archive.bak", for example.
* Click on the ".bak" file with the right mouse button.
* Select Restore from the menu.
* Open your Outlook Express store folder in Windows Explorer.
* Drag and drop the ".dbx" file corresponding to the Outlook Express folder you want to recover to your Desktop.
* In the Outlook Express store folder, click on the ".bak" file to be recovered with the right mouse button.
* Select Rename from the menu.
* Change the ".bak" file extension to ".dbx".
o If the file was called "Archive.bak", for example, make sure it is named "Archive.dbx" now.
* Open Outlook Express.
* If your emails have been recovered, delete the ".dbx" file you moved to the Desktop.

Even if you had not yet installed the patch, message recovery could be easy:

* Exit Outlook Express.
* Look in your Windows Recycle Bin for a .dbx file corresponding to the folder from which mail is missing.
* Restore the .dbx file.
* Start Outlook Express.

This information was found at this URL:

I'm sorry that you lost all of your emails. Is it possible you have a back up put in place where you could get that file again? For instance did you have another Hard Drive or make a full hard drive back up before this happened? If so, you can try to restore from that back up. It would mean you have the DBX file which is a file that contains all of your emails inside a database.

e mails

thank you for your help, could they be restored by going to an earlier restore point


Computer Help's picture

Don't think so...

Hello Outlaw391,

I don't believe the Windows Restore point function works like that. I believe it mostly remembers the registry state and makes a back up of how it was running when the restore point is made and not saving any kind of changes to the file system on your computer. You can easily test this by creating a text file on your desktop, running a restore point, deleting the file, then running the restore point. The file will not restore because this isn't how this feature works.

Now there are programs out there that do work like this, but this would require some planning ahead. I'm sure the people reading this page are here because they didn't. If your using a email client similar to Outlook, your going to be look for .dbx files. These files hold a Outlook folder and considered a database file which contain your emails.