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Recover Mozilla, Thunderbird, Netscape and SeaMonkey Email Account Files

Netscape, SeaMonkey, and Thunderbird email clients are all built on Mozilla and share the same file structure. If you have used MozBackup or some other utility to import your mail or profile settings from one of these mail clients to another and lost your mail; this guide will help. This guide will also help if you needed to reinstall your Mozilla email client because of a serious crash or maybe Windows just lost it.

Requirements: The only requirement to use this guide is to know how to copy and rename files in Windows.

NOTE: This guide uses Windows XP as the working example. The same procedure can be used with other versions of Windows by finding the Mozilla profile path. The paths given in this guide are typical. Your paths might be slightly different depending on how your Windows system is set up.


Also note on Windows 2000 and Windows XP, the "Document and Settings" directories are hidden twice; to have access to these directories, you may need to set Windows Explorer to show System and Hidden directories and files. You will need Administrative rights to make some changes.


This can be done by changing the View settings in Windows Explorer, (Windows key + E). Choose Tools, Folder Options, and finally the View tab. In the Advance settings window, set "Show hidden files and folders". You may also need to uncheck "Hide protected operating system files (Recomended)". Click "Ok", your files and directories should show now. You might need to reboot your system.


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Make A Safe Backup
The first step is to backup your current profile. If you do not have a backup utility don't worry. You can backup your profile settings including your mail simply by copying the necessary directories to a safe place. Your backup should be copied to a separate drive, CD or memory stick to avoid loss in case of a Windows crash.


This is the Windows XP and 2000 Mozilla profile path: C:\Documents and Settings\User Name\Application Data\Mozilla\Profiles Find this path and copy the "Profiles" directory to a safe place.


The Profiles directory contains your bookmarks, mail, news files and account settings, stored passwords, address book, security certificates and preferences.


Profile And Mail Files
To recover your Mozilla mail and profile settings it is helpful to know what all these files are. Your profile has three parts. First is the registry.dat file stored in the directory C:\Documents and Settings\User Name\Application Data\Mozilla. (Learn more about Mozilla profiles.)


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Next is the profile name which is either a "user name" or "default". C:\Documents and Settings\User Name\Application Data\Mozilla\Profiles\default.


Finally a "salt" directory. This directory is a a sub-directory named with eight random alpha-numerals followed by the .slt extension, such as; C:\Documents and Settings\User Name\Application Data\Mozilla\Profiles\default\xxxxxxxx.slt. This directory contains subdirectories Cache, Chrome, imapMail, Mail, News and others. It also includes files for your address book, bookmarks, history, cookies, certificates etc.


If you look inside the C:\Documents and Settings\User Name\Application Data\Mozilla\Profiles\default\xxxxxxxx.slt\Mail directory you will find that your mail is not lost at all. All newly created accounts and all previous email accounts are still in the "Mail" directory. The first time you start your Mozilla email client after importing a profile or mail from another client it creates new email directories. These newly created email directories are named by the pop mail or imapMail server name in numeric order with one directory for each email account you create.


The first email account is named something like mail.myisp.com. This will be the default email account you imported from another client. The old default email account you thought was lost will be named something like, mail.myisp-1.com. If you had more than one previous email account with the same ISP it will be named, mail.myisp-2.com, the next account would be, mail.myisp-3.com and so on.


Prepare To Restore Your Old Mail
There are some things you need to do before your old mail can be restored. If you have not created all of your email accounts, start or email client and do so now.


After all of your accounts have been set up create a subdirectory in each account with a unique name that describes that account. If you have an account you named John, then create a subdirectory named John. This will help you identify which directory holds which account. Now you can move any mail you have collected in other directories such as your Inbox that you wish to keep in to your newly created directories.


Restore Your eMail
Close your email client and go to C:\Documents and Settings\User Name\Application Data\Mozilla\Profiles\default\mail directory again. Open each account directory and find the name of the new directory that you created and identify each account. It is very helpful to write the account names down if you have more than one to keep them straight.


Now copy the files from the old account directories to the corresponding new directories. Be careful not to over write the new directories you created earlier. If all has gone well your old lost mail will reappear when you restart your email client.


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