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What does compacting emails mean and will I lose emails?

by Big Steve / February 3, 2007 2:21 PM PST

Every so often when I begin to exit Outlook Express I'll be asked if I want to compact my emails. What exactly does that mean and if I choose to do it will I lose some of my important emails if I decide to do it?

Big Steve
Biloxi, Mississippi

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No harm done. . .
by Coryphaeus / February 3, 2007 8:15 PM PST

Emails, like files, can become fragmented. Let it do what it asks.

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Re: What does compacting emails mean and will I lose emails?
by Tufenuf / February 3, 2007 9:06 PM PST
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Re: What does compacting emails mean and will I lose emails
by Big Steve / February 4, 2007 3:03 AM PST

Thanks for both posts and I saved that link about compacting emails for future reference.

Big Steve
Biloxi, Mississippi

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outlook express problem
by terri13th / February 9, 2007 12:28 AM PST

Slightly off subject, but what wd be a reputable tool for repairing 'outlook express' in windows xp? I've had a problem with it taking very long to send emails, and have had everything cked out w/my connection, dsl software and hardware, and everyone is saying the problem is in oe itself. I don't want to lose my emails. Is there a trustworthy free fix out there or diagnostic tool for OE?

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Re: OE problem
by Kees Bakker / February 9, 2007 1:39 AM PST

Most likely cause: antivirus software checking outgoing mail. Disable it to see if it helps.

You can repair IE (and thus OE) from config panel>add/remove or you can go to and install the latest version (be sure to specify to update OE, even if it says you already have the latest version). But I don't expect any help from this.


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sluggish outlook express
by terri13th / February 9, 2007 1:48 AM PST
In reply to: Re: OE problem

oh, sorry, I should have mentioned that disabling anti-virus ck on email was first thing I did to try and solve the is truly disabled, too, as I keep getting prompts from avg warning me about it...

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Finding the glitch ?
by Cursorcowboy / February 9, 2007 10:21 PM PST

1. The article [Q306098] states that when you attempt to use Outlook Express to send mail from a hyperlink, to send mail by using the "Send To" feature of another program, or to send mail by using the "New Message" feature in Internet Explorer, Outlook Express may not be used to send the message and can occur if:

? Outlook Express is not registered as your default e-mail program

? An entry for the default mail client is missing in the registry.

2. In addition, the article [Q821403] discusses and explains several symptoms and problems that you may experience when you right-click a file, point to Send To, and then click Mail Recipient.

3. Download and use patch, "#19 - Add Outlook Express as Default Client" from the Kellys-Korner site.

Section I: Reinstall - Repair

1. The article [Q318378] describes how to reinstall or repair IE and OE version 6 if you are having problems because of damaged files or missing registration information. After using this procedure, you must again reinstall any updates which were previously installed.

Note: By default, IE6 is preinstalled in all versions of XP and cannot be uninstalled. Since Microsoft made it possible for a lot of flexibility for computer manufacturers configuring desktop versions, users my find an option already exist in the Add/Remove Windows Components section of the Add/Remove Programs tool in Control Panel, but this option may or may not reinstall Internet Explorer.

2. IE6 Service Pack 1 (SP1) is included with Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) when installed, [Q328548]. You're advised to read, OLEXP: An Overview of the Cumulative Update for Outlook Express 6.0 SP-1 (Q331923).

Section II: Backup - Import - Export

1. The article [Q313055] provides a step-by-step procedure to help you find OE mail, folders, and Address Book.

Note: Even though this article does not necessarilly discuss exporting OE mail, the same logic is little different than an import.

2. The article [Q316981] explains that when you import e-mail messages, the list of options may include only Microsoft Outlook Express version 4.0 and Outlook Express 6.0; Microsoft Outlook Express version 5 may not be listed and to simply select the Outlook Express 6.0 option to import Outlook Express 5 messages.

3. The article [Q313055] covers the step-by-by step procedure for how to Export and Import Identities. Be aware however that the article [Q329084] states that you switch identities after you install Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1). For example, if you click Switch Identity on the File menu, click the identity that you want to switch to and then click OK, the main identity is opened instead of the one that you want to switch to. To resolve this problem, install the Cumulative Update for Outlook Express 6.0 SP1.

4. The article [Q316841] states that when you use Outlook Express import e-mail messages from a Messaging Application Programming Interface (MAPI) client such as Microsoft Outlook, the file name of attachments in the original e-mail may be shortened to eight characters. For example, an attachment named "This is a file.doc" may be imported as "Thisisaf.doc."

Note: To change the default storage location of both the Mail and the News folders (please also review, "OLEXP: How to Change the Default Location of Mail and News Folders (Q175037)"):

a. Start Outlook Express.

b. On the Tools menu, click Options.

c. Click the Maintenance tab, and then click Store Folder.

d. Click Change, and then click the location where you want to store the Mail and the News folders.

e. Click OK four times.

f. On the File menu, click Exit.

g. Restart Outlook Express.

Section III - Your Server Has Unexpectedly Terminated the Connection

a. "Error Message: Your Server Has Unexpectedly Terminated the Connection (Q278637)."

b. "Your Server Has Unexpectedly Terminated the Connection" Error Message When You Send an SMTP-Based E-mail Message (Q816866).

c. "Server Has Unexpectedly Terminated the Connection" Error Message If You Start Outlook or Outlook Express (Q318660).

d. "You Cannot Send a Message with Graphic Attachments (Q254926)."

e. Also be aware of, "Virus Alert About the Blaster Worm and Its Variants (Q826955)." It's your system and whether you want it checked and clean is strictly up to you. IMO, don't procrastinate.

Section IV - Supplemental reading:

1. "Save password setting not retained in Outlook or Outlook Express (Q290684)."

2. "OLEXP: Error Message: Msimn.exe Has Generated Errors and Will Be Closed by Windows (Q258034)."

3. "OLEXP: Earlier E-Mail Messages Are Not Displayed on a Computer That Is Running Windows XP or Windows 2000 (Q312359)."

4. "OLEXP: Your Messages Disappear If the View Is Set to Show All Messages (Q314421)."

5. "Unable to Set Different E-Mail Programs for Different Users (Q315240)."

6. "OLEXP: How to Share the Store Folder Among Multiple Windows XP Users (Q317031)."

7. "OLEXP: Outlook Express E-Mail Messages Are Missing from the Inbox Folder (Q321505)."

8. "Cannot Open E-Mail Attachments in Outlook Express After You Install SP1 (Q329570)."

9. "OEBackup (by Majik)."

Section V - Supplemental reading:

1. Compacting all folders in OE frequently repairs mild corruption and surprisingly enough as ironic as it seems, the compaction process itself has also been implicated in causing corruption. Before WinXP SP2, OE was configured by default to compact files automatically after inactive for some minutes. However, although OE might have been inactive, the same could not always be said for other programs being used when compaction began. On some systems, particularly those with limited amounts of RAM or slow processors, the sudden drain on computer resources sometimes caused anomalies that too often damage the DBX file(s).

2. It is largely for this reason that the background compaction feature was removed from WinXP SP2. OE will now compact automatically only after opening and closing 100 times. It will do so not in the background, when you might be busy doing other things on the computer, but rather when the option is approved. Do not cancel the process, nor use your computer until it is finished. For the reason mention previously, you should still compact all folders on a regular basis based on volumns of mail received and as mentioned here. You should disable the background compaction (Click Tools, Options, Maintenance, click to clear the checkbox for Compact messages automatically in the background", and then click OK) when using systems prior to SP2, "File Corruption in Outlook Express."

a. On the File menu, click Work Offline so that no new messages will be arriving.

b. In the Folder list, click on Outlook Express so that no e-mail or news folder is open.

c. Close the Folder list by clicking the "X" in the upper right-hand corner of the list panel. Alternatively you can click Layout on the View menu, and then clear the checkbox for "Folder List".

d. On the File menu, point to Folder, and then click Compact All Folders. Do not use your computer until the process is complete, which might take several minutes.

e. If an error occurs, close OE, re-open it, and begin the process again from the top. If the same error occurs again, close OE, restart your computer (or log off and then log on again), open OE and then begin the whole process again.

3. The article [Q311030] states that when clicking a Web link in a message or a message itself, the response time is slow and can occur if background compaction of stored newsgroup messages is turned on.

a. This feature is designed to wait until OE has been idle for several minutes and then begin compacting newsgroup mail and news folders in the background -- not OE mail, and stores process information in the file Cleanup.log. I do not recommend using this option since anything from a disconnect or any other system anomaly that could happen when compaction is in progress could totally trash the Store folders. However, OE does not remove deleted mail information from the applicable *.dbx file until a user opts to compact a folder or all folders manually -- the longer you wait, the bigger it gets, and the longer it takes processing. To minimize files and disk space, compact a folder or all folders regularly (File, Folders, Compact).

b. OE can save all commands to and from a server in a log file for troubleshooting purposes which a user may never find useful. They not only requires hard drive space but may slow down the mailer operation as well -- Tools, Options, Maintenance tab and in the section titled Troubleshooting, remove any check marks from the four boxes. Click the button labeled Store Folder. When you see the path, click and bold the path to copy it to the Clipboard. Then click the two buttons, Apply and OK. Click Start, Run, and then press the key combinations Ctrl+v to place that path in the box. Press Enter. Upon reaching this folder in Explorer, highlight the files which end with an extension of .log (while holding the Ctrl key). When bolded, press the Del key on the keypad. Remember, should there be any concern about this procedure, those files will reside in the Recycled folder until they are removed and can always be put back should you feel it necessary -- but you will not find it required.

4. Supplemental: "Update for Outlook Express 6.0 on Microsoft Windows XP (KB918766)."

Note: After you install this update, a backup copy of the .dbx file is created every time that the database is compacted. After the database is successfully compacted, the backup copy of the .dbx file is moved to the Recycle Bin.

5. Email Errors "Put Your Correspondence Back On The Correct Route".

Section VI - Supplemental reading:

1. The article [Q313055] states that Outlook Express mail folders, e-mail messages, and Address Book are missing after you upgrade and occurs because the Windows XP file structure is different and the files for Outlook Express are no longer in the same location and this same anomaly can be experienced as explained in the article [Q295965] which states that when OE is started, some existing folders (Inbox, Drafts, and so on) or personal subfolders may be missing and can be caused if the file "Folders.dbx" (the Indexer) is damaged or corrupt. To resolve this issue, rename or simply delete the Folders.dbx file for the impacted identity, and then start OE which rebuilds it. Please be advised that this same anomaly may occur if this file for certain other folders is also either damaged or corrupted. This Knowledge Base article also provides a step-by-step procedure to help you find your previous mail, folders, and Address Book, and import them back into Outlook Express.

Hint: You may on occasion be able to save hard drive space simply by deleting the Folders.dbx file and letting OE recreate it.

CAVEAT: The Folders.dbx file however keeps track of Active News Group Subscriptions too. Should this be important to you, do not delete it. If you do, that information will be lost. Again be advised, the file Folders.dbx is the file which categorizes and maintains the default mail Store, the user created OE folders, and default OE files. If a certain file or folder is moved or copied into the mail Store inlieu of using the correct Import method, the Folders.dbx would not be aware of this change and therefore consider the replaced ?.dbx file or folder as corrupted. To make sure things are in sync if copying or moving either into the mail Store, delete the Folders.dbx file before starting OE to ensure that a new and accurate one is created. Even afterwards, perhaps simply deleting it and opening OE will fix you right up. Should the system have asked, "Overwrite . . ."? when a copy or move was performed, anything previously at that point was lost.

2. Supplemental reading: "The Outlook Express Store Folder."

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Lost Sent files after compacting
by eashford / April 2, 2008 11:29 PM PDT

I compacted all my email files last night. This morning I discover that all trace of emails I sent after the beginning of September 2007 have completely disappeared! Does anyone have any idea how I can recover these?
Best regards,
Ed Ashford

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Re: lost sent file after compacting
by Kees Bakker / April 3, 2008 4:44 AM PDT

If you go the Recycle Bin, you'll find a bunch of .bak files. Each one is the original .dbx file before it got compacted. Steps to take:
1. Undelete it
2. Rename your current sent items .dbx file
3. COPY the .bak to .dbx
And you will have your original uncompacted dbx-file
4. Now try to compact that file only.
You can do #2 and #3 in Windows Explorer, after you've found the right folder in your profile. It's not difficult.

If #4 doesn't work something might be wrong with the file. Then we organize a rescue operation that's somewhat more involved, so I won't go into details now. But do post again if #4 fails or leaves you with an empty file again. Still nothing lost as you still have the .bak file with all your data in your folder.


PS. Also tell about your backup procedures for your mail. No backup = risk to lose it. I got the impression that's not what you want.

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The lost is restored!
by eashford / April 3, 2008 8:18 AM PDT

Many many thanks. Everything worked like clockwork when I followed your directions. Heel hartelijk bedankt!

My backup policy? Terrible! But I have now learned my lesson!
Thanks again,

Ed Ashford

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Glad I could help.
by Kees Bakker / April 3, 2008 9:30 PM PDT
In reply to: The lost is restored!

And your Dutch (although maybe limited) is perfect!


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