Account Messed Up Somehow

User Help for Mozilla Thunderbird
Posts: 6
Joined: March 12th, 2006, 2:19 pm

Post Posted January 4th, 2021, 10:13 pm

I am not quite sure what happened. I returned from Xmas holiday and my daughter was hitting keys on the keyboard and the computer crashed (not even sure she actually logged into Windows or not).

After rebooting (Win 7), I clicked on Thunderbird to start it. I got a total new look/screen I had never seen before asking my for my name and account information. I chalked it up to an update that had arrived over the holidays. After entering the info I noticed Thunderbird created a brand new account and started auto downloading the emails from the server (I set my account to Pop3 since I want my email local). It was at this point I noticed ALL my email was gone (years of history / folders etc).

I closed and reopened but I got the same thing, new account and it continued to download the email.

I checked C:\Users\{user}\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles and there is only 1 profile there at it's 9.5 Gig in size. So the email is there but somehow Thunderbird seems to not recognize it as my account (an email search show success in old emails but I can't open any to read, just see the dates from what it presumably thinks is another profile???)

Did this happen because of an update since Dec 15th or so (when I was away). If so, can anyone tell me how to get my profile with all my email back.

Also my settings for that profile told Thunderbird NOT to auto download email until I clicked check for messages. How can I get that back? Or if I get my other profile back, will it get that setting (among others) for me?

Lastly, how can I transfer the email from the new account that I accidentally downloaded email into, to my real account.




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Joined: July 30th, 2003, 5:06 pm

Post Posted January 5th, 2021, 7:52 am

The new account wizard is automatically run when Thunderbird can't find a prefs.js file (the file used to store the account settings). Usually that occurs when you don't have a profile, and Thunderbird has to create a profiles.ini file (it tells TB where your profiles are) and a new profile. But it sounds like in this case you probably have both a valid profiles.ini file and a valid profile, except the prefs.js file was deleted or trashed. In that case you just need to create your accounts again, and in each account set the "local directory" to the old location. You can set it using the Browse button at the bottom of the accounts server settings. That will let you use any already downloaded mail.

"local directory" specifies where an account stores it files. Usually it uses a directory named after the mail server in either the mail (POP accounts) or imapmail (IMAP accounts) child directory. For example my gmail imap account uses the mail server and its files are stored in C:\Users\Eric\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles\feu8hx1l.default-release\ImapMail\

If I look in that directory I will see a msgFilterRules.dat file (used to store the message filters for that account) plus various files used to store mail/the mail folder hierarchy.

If you added a new account I suggest you copy its folders to a new child folder in "Local Folders" so that you can merge any new mail you got/sent after switching back to your old local directory setting. You might not need to do this if you were using a POP account where "leave messages on server" was checked.

If you have a backup of your prefs.js file you could try just copying it to your profile instead (after copying the new accounts folders to Local Folders).

If that doesn't help I suggest you click on about:profiles in help -> troubleshooting information and see if it mentions a second profile. If so, try selecting it as the default profile. You could also use windows explorer to search for all directories that have both a prefs.js file (your settings) and a abook.sqlite file (new file used by version 78.* to store your address book).

Posts: 6
Joined: March 12th, 2006, 2:19 pm

Post Posted January 5th, 2021, 5:47 pm

Thank You!

The prefs.js was indeed the correct answer. I have a whole bunch of prior versions of that file and the most recent was August of 2020. So I just coped it over the pref.js file and voila, everything was back to normal and I had my old emails and the server was setup correctly to not auto download messages etc. I just had to make a minor edit to update my outgoing smtp server since my provider changed their security in Oct and all is good again.

I also got the emails from the 'new' account inbox into my correct email account. I think I sort of did what you suggested. I just hand edited the inbox files using notepad++ and did a copy/paste and it all worked. It may be a caveman way to do it, but it works :)

Thanks again for all your help.


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