Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Read the article that everyone's commenting on.
OE stores emails in a text file - one per mailbox. That makes it a huge file but still readable through any text editor program independent of OE.
The database is basically index that keeps tab on where each email begin among other information. This index often gets corrupted. But is recoverable. I have in the past just deleted the index file and OE would create a new more clean index.
When you delete a message, OE marks the email in the big text file with a flag. but leaves it there till you compact the mailboxes. So a deleted message is still recoverable from the text file by just changing the flag back to the undeleted mail flag.
The trade off for doing all this is that the files need to be reorganzed more often than with other programs. Thunderbird for example stores emails in "separate" text files and not one big text file.
I would not suggest handling the OE files unless you know what you are doing. But then my suggestion is to take a backup of the OE mail folders. and then play around with the files. If things go from bad to worse, get the data back from the backup and you are no worse of than you started.
Before reading Leo's comment the first thing that came to me was, why not switch to Thunderbird. My reason also includes security. Many spam bots target the Outlook express mailing list. Of course the hackers may also hack into T-bird but I've heard of many more OE attacks. Another probem is that you can't get rid of OE you can just stop using it. I don't know it this still happens, but I deleted the OE directory once in win 98 to save space and it came back.
Ah, but I started getting the annoying message about a month ago, and I don't use Outlook or Outlook Express. Ever. At all. Yes, they're installed as part of Windows XP, but that's it. I've never opened either one. I finally Ok'd compacting the (nonexistent) messages and the prompt went away, but it's a mystery to me.
I too have many customers using OE and a few have complained it loses their emails during the compacting process. I have a greater issue with Tunderbird though. It has a nice user interface but once you've commited to Thunderbird, you better be happy with it. To export back to something else, especially Outlook, is an extreme hassle. Buyer Beware when going to Thunderbird!
Yes, this is a very strange affair since, like the post by Cindy R., I do not even use OE, period. Yet the message to compact came up suddenly, without warning, asking me to compact the database. After saying "no" several times---and the message reappearing---I finally said "OK", and the message never returned. Hmmmm.
I've used OE for the past 12 years. I have tens of thousands of emails stored in many folders, several levels deep. To date I've had zero problems. I do compact the DB every so often, but have never had a problem. I do make regular backups, of course, but have never needed them. That's not bad for a free program.
Desktop search engines access OE several times a day; at 100 accesses OE sends the compact message. Get rid of it by going to Kelly's Korner and downloading compactcheck.vbs. It resets the OE counter to zero.
Outlook Express is tempramental, but like all wild animals it is easily handled if it is managed well.
The key to a happy OE mailbox is not to store huge amount(hundreds) of emails in the default "Inbox" - create a new folder like 'Keeps' or 'Archives' or 'Actioned'. On our 20+ network, the users that do use OE can have up to 2,000 emails in one folder. At this point is where OE starts to report "Unable to Display Message". My guide is less than 1,000 messages per folder. The Mailstore is kept on a Network Storage rather than in the user's Docs & Settings.
One major important thing is to "Work Offline" when compacting mailboxes. If the compact process is interupted, there is a V.high chance of corruption. Go to File/'Work Offline', then File/Folder/'Compact All Folders' (after you have cleaned them up and organised them).
If you really want to keep emails forever for archiving, there's a great 'free' DBX viewer called OEView, that can read email messages from the database file as if they were in OE.
For recovery, theres a good free extractor called DBXtract. I use both on XP.
As with everything computer - it's all about good management.
When you get to many emails stored in OE it starts that wanting to compact.In other words when it reahes a certain number of emails.Once you compact it then waits till you reach that number again.Use gmail!!I run all of my email addys through my main gmail account,even my other gmail accounts.It is great.Takes care of all that junk stuff too.But also you can check junk folder when ever you want to make sure it doesnt have any good emails.
If you are into OE stats then I reccomend 'email guardian' by thundercloud.I use that to back it all up to my external drive and then clean it all out in OE and no more annoying message to compact.Then when I feel like making a stat or using a stat i can use oe.
I use Outlook, which works ok. However, I still get the 'Compact' message from OE. Presueably this means it was installed at some point on my company laptop. If so, can I remove OE safely, without compromising Outlook? Cheers
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