Outlook Express inbox emails have disappeared

inbox in outlook express dropped last six months of emails
I was hoping it would be easy, but not so.
The two most common reasons for what you describe is disruption of the compacting process, (never touch anything until it's finished), or bloated folders. More on that below.
Why does OE insist on compacting folders when I close it?:
Why Mail Disappears:
Recovery methods:
If you are running XP/SP2, or SP3, and are fully patched, then you should have a backup of your dbx files in the Recycle Bin, (or possibly the message store), copied as bak files.
To restore a bak folder to the message store folder, first find the location of the Message Store.
Tools | Options | Maintenance | Store Folder will reveal the location of your Outlook Express files. Write the location down and navigate to it in Windows Explorer or, copy and paste it into Start | Run.
In WinXP, the .dbx files are by default marked as hidden. To view these files in Explorer, you must enable Show Hidden Files and Folders under Start | Control Panel | Folder Options | View.
Close OE and then in Windows Explorer, click on the dbx file for the missing, or empty, folder and drag it to the Desktop. It can be deleted later once you have successfully restored the bak file. Minimize the Message Store.
Open OE and, if the folder is missing, create a folder with the *exact* same name as the bak file you want to restore but without the .bak. Eg: If the file is Saved.bak, the new folder should be named Saved. Open the new folder and then close OE. If the folder is there, but just empty, continue on to the next step.
First, check if there is a bak file already in the message store. If there is, and you removed the dbx file, go ahead and rename it to dbx.
If it isn't already in the message store, open the Recycle bin and right click on the bak file for the folder in question and click Restore. Open the message store back up and change the file extension from .bak to .dbx. Close the message store and open OE. The messages should now be back in the folder.
If the messages are successfully restored, you can go ahead and delete the old dbx file that you moved to the Desktop. 
If you do not have bak copies of your dbx files in the Recycle Bin, then:
DBXpress run in Extract From Disk Mode is the best chance to recover messages:
A general warning to help avoid this in the future:
Do not archive mail in default OE folders. They will eventually become corrupted. Create your own user defined folders for storing mail and move your mail to them. Empty Deleted Items folder regularly. Keep user created folders under 300MB, and Default folders as empty as is feasible.
Turn off e-mail scanning in your anti-virus program. It is a redundant layer of protection that eats up CPUs, slows down sending and receiving, and causes a multitude of problems such as time-outs, account setting changes and has even been responsible for lose of messages. Your up-to-date A/V program will continue to protect you sufficiently. For more, see:
And backup often.
Outlook Express Quick Backup (OEQB Freeware)
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☞ Avoid a post. Backup your data. ☜

Bruce Hagen
MVP: 2004 ~ 2010
2014 ~ Present
Imperial Beach, CA

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Last updated September 30, 2019 Views 6,562 Applies to: