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Outlook Express compact files problem - missing mails after compact in Outlook Express.

What you should do if you lost your Outlook Express inbox and all emails in it.

The most often way it happens is like that. You close you Outlook Express and see a pop-up message "To free up disk space, Outlook Express can compact messages. This may take up to a few minutes." Everyone would like to free up the disk space, so you click "Yes" and Outlook Express starts compacting folders. If your computer hangs up and is not responding when compacting Outlook Express folders, power failure occurs or the user finishes Outlook Express process via the program manager; then email database (.dbx file) is damaged. And when you start Outlook Express next time you can see the lost Outlook Express inbox and all emails disappear.

So, what has happened and what does "compacting messages" mean?

Outlook Express stores emails in special files with .DBX extension. Every OE folder has a corresponding .DBX file. For example, Inbox folder has a corresponding Inbox.dbx file, Outbox folder has a corresponding Outbox.dbx file and so on. Folders.dbx file stores a folder tree. When you delete a message from an Outlook Express folder or move it to another folder the message is not actually deleted from the folder, it is just marked as deleted and becomes invisible for the user. It is done to make Outlook Express work faster. The reverse side of such approach is that DBX files size grows quickly. To make the folders size smaller Outlook Express suggests that you should compact the folders. Or you can compact your folders by yourself. To do it, select the "File" -> "Folder" -> "Compact All Folders" menu item. Before compacting, select the "File" -> "Work Offline" item of the Outlook Express menu. In such a case, Outlook Express rebuilds dbx files so that they do not contain any deleted messages anymore. If a failure occurs when compacting OE folders then one or even all dbx files are totally corrupted.

How to repair Outlook Express dbx files and recover Outlook Express emails.

We have analyzed a great number of corrupt dbx files. As a rule, after "compacting failure" dbx file is filled with zeros and does not contain any useful information at all. That is why to recover emails from such a file is next to impossible.

But there is the way out! Our software Email Recovery for Outlook Express details... uses unique algorithms and techniques allowing to recover emails even in such difficult cases. Use "Scan the entire disk" mode to recover the lost Outlook Express emails.

Download Email Recovery for Outlook Express

In the "Scan the entire disk" mode, messages are recovered in three steps.
  • Scan the hard drive. To begin scanning the disk, select the "Scan the entire disk" tab and then click the necessary disk letter (usually C) in the left part of the program window. The program will start searching for lost messages. Note: scanning may take quite a while, please be patient. You can see the number of found messages in the status bar at the bottom of the program window.
  • After the search is over, the program will display the list of found messages. Right-click the message list and select the messages you would like to recover. Click the "Save recovered messages" button on the toolbar. Each message will be saved as a file with the EML extension. To open such a file, double-click it. Note: we highly recommend that you select a folder located on another drive (not the one being scanned) while specifying the output folder. Otherwise, not all found messages may be recovered.
  • Importing the EML files from the Windows folder into an Outlook Express folder. To import messages, open the folder with the saved EML files in Windows Explorer, start Outlook Express and just use drag & drop the EML files to the necessary Outlook Express folder. (Hint: press Ctrl+A to select all files in the Windows Explorer window at once).

How to avoid Outlook Express compact messages problems?

The best and the most reliable way to avoid loosing important information is to perform the files backup. You can create Outlook Express folders backup manually just by copying DBX files into a safe place. To find out where Outlook Express stores DBX files, start Outlook Express and click "Tools" -> "Options" -> "Maintenance" -> "Store Folder". You can use Outlook Express Backup software read for complete and automatic Outlook Express data backup including the contacts, account settings, signatures, etc.