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Windows XP keeps your user data in a different place than Windows 9x. Your Outlook Express folders are part of that user data.

I upgraded to WinXP and my Outlook Express Inbox items disappeared ... are they lost?

Probably not. Personally I would have expected the upgrade to automatically handle this but perhaps there are technical issues that prevent it. It boils down to fundamentals: Windows 9x is fundamentally a single-user operating system and Windows XP is fundamentally a multiple-user operating system.

And that means that XP needs to organize things a little differently.

Under Windows 9x (which includes Windows 95, 98 and Windows Me), Outlook Express probably placed your folders in database files kept somewhere underneath "c:\windows\Application Data\Microsoft\OutlookExpress". I say probably because there are some differences based on how your system and OE are configured.

Under Windows XP, those same files will probably reside somewhere underneath "c:\documents and settings\[username]\..." where "[username]" is replaced with the account name used to log into Windows. That means that each user that logs into the machine will have a different set of Outlook Express folders.

I'm guessing that after your upgrade Outlook Express was configured to look in the location appropriate to Windows XP but that your old folders remained in their Windows 9x location.

First, let's find exactly where your mail folders are. Press the Start button, Search, For Files or Folders.... Press All files and folders, then enter *.dbx as All or part of the filename: (Outlook Express keeps your mail in ".dbx" files). Press Search and let it go.

You'll probably find that there are .dbx files in two locations: the newer one underneath "c:\documents and settings", and another. Remember or write down that other.

To recover the mail that is in those old folders, we'll import the messages into the new location.

In Outlook Express hit the File menu, then Import, then Messages.... Select the appropriate Microsoft Outlook Express from the list of options, press Next, and Next again. At this point Outlook Express should be telling you that it thinks your messages are stored in a certain location. If that's the location of the old files we discovered above, great, but if not press the Browse button and select the directory where those old mail files are located.

Press Next and Outlook Express should import all your old messages.

You can read more about where Outlook Express stores its mail, and how to change that to your own liking in this Knowledgebase Article: How to Change the Default Location of Mail and News Folders.

Article C1912 - March 24, 2004 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Tom Graham
May 13, 2004 6:39 AM

Ref: where XP stores Outlook Express's data files.
I tried both of the suggestions without success.


This method showed the files to be located under my user name/local settings......etc.
The name local settings may not be appropriate to an English system as I use a German OS but either way, the directory "Local Settings" is not to be found using Explorer. I assume the directory is atrribute "Hidden" but find no way to change the attribute.

Method 2:


My search found Zero *dbx files on the drive.

Anybody know any more ?


June 5, 2004 6:21 PM

Wow ... I looked too long for help from MS's site, got a headache, nearly cursed ... Then 3 minutes with Leo, and the problem's solved. THANKS! Rock on, Leo.

June 30, 2004 1:08 PM

I had the same problem, so
Thank You very mach!!!
It was so helpfull! Thank you, again!!!


July 11, 2004 8:03 AM

Hello, I did Import, selected OE4 as the type, browsed to the folder where my dbx folders where, and got the response that there are no mail files there. How can I make my OE recognize and access my old dbx folders? I got many of these.

July 11, 2004 10:41 AM

Sounds like you did it correctly. Make sure Outlook Express isn't running at the time - it may have the files locked.

Linda Scates
July 25, 2004 11:45 AM

This has happened to me also, and I can't find any .dbx files. Help! I want me e-mails. I don't have Outlook Express running and I've tried to find .dbx files several luck.

Don Bott
July 26, 2004 2:47 PM

Lost emails after doing upgrade (vs. format and a clean install) from Windows ME to Windows 2000 Professional. Also did Windows update, which upgraded OE from 5.0 to 6.0.

Anyone have suggestions to import or recover messages and address book?

July 26, 2004 9:19 PM

Did the steps in the article not help?

August 3, 2004 7:17 AM

Hi Leo
I upgraded from win to xp many months ago. No problems. Yesterday a folder in my email with many sub folders of clients, disappeared. I tried a system rollback but didn't get those files back. I do a search for .dbx files and yes I have alot of them under c:\docs&settings, and a few under program files\common files, which looking at properties are files from years ago.
How can I get that 1 folder with numerous sub folders back? And why did it disappear?

August 3, 2004 8:00 AM

Hard to say why it disappearred. You can import the DBX's you find, though. Each subfolder will be in it's own DBX.

September 1, 2004 11:12 PM

When I go to import my old Inbox items, I can't find the location of the files. I ran the search as indicated and discovered that my Inbox items were stored at "C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Application Data\Identities\ ..." plus a bunch of numbers. When I browse for this location, I can only get as far as my username. There isn't a folder called Application Data\Identities\etc. Any ideas? Thanks a lot.

September 2, 2004 7:36 PM

In Windows Explorer: Tools, Folder Options, View tab - make sure "show hidden files and folders" is selected.

September 6, 2004 2:31 PM


I just used your procedure to recover my messages after I updated Win XP to Service Pack 2, and it worked perfectly!!!

Thx so much!

September 19, 2004 7:35 PM

Hello Guys,
I need some help here. Before i upgraded form my window 98 to window xp. I backup all of my outlook express 6.0 messages and address book, which all saved in .dbx format. Once, I got my windo xp installed, I can successfully import my old address book from my backup file to either Outlook or Outlook express. However, I am unable to import my messages. I pointed it to where my .dbx files stored, but it keeps complaning that no message found.
Can some body please give me some good advice.
I would really appriciate your help!!!

September 23, 2004 7:07 AM

This might help: the entry "/Local Settings/" needs to be inserted between user name and Application Data - then Windows should find the dbx files - then make sure you copy over the "folders.dbx" file as well
I had no luck using Import but cut and paste is fine

September 23, 2004 7:31 AM

my post above: use back slashes not forward slashes!

September 28, 2004 4:08 PM

I'm in a similar boat as Kitty - I installed Windows ME to replace 98 on my wife's computer, her files were gone, but they were in the "c:\documents and settings" folder, but no others. I tried to install the messages from the "c:\documents and settings" folder, but it only duplicated the messages in the Inbox and did not import the other folders. I tried the above technique, and apparently I cannot type anything in the box - I can only browse. I even tried to make a copy of the "c:\documents and settings" folder, and no luck there.

Any suggestions???

(I did successfully get her contacts in her address book back, though.)

October 7, 2004 2:45 AM

After upgrading to XP I have a problem. My Win 98 outlook express dbx files are saved. Windows XP doesn't see them. How can I import them to Win XP outlook( and where do they go?)

October 13, 2004 4:01 AM


I work for a big company, I work in the IT Department.
I really have a big problem guys.My email just dissapear all of them I treid to import but there is nothing mail to import,I update windows and update my virus programe but it still doesnot work


October 15, 2004 4:36 PM

After following your instruction on how to backup messages and then I tried to import it from the cd, it tells me that it can't find any files.
What did I do wrong?

October 15, 2004 4:43 PM

Have you verified that the dbx files are on the CD? Are they in a subdirectory or in the root of the drive?

October 22, 2004 10:45 AM


I recently upgraded to Windows XP and OE 6.0 from Windows 98 and OE 5.0. Before I did that I backed up all my OE folders and they became *.dbx files. I have these files stored both on a CD and on my harddrive in a special directory.

My problem is that I cannot open these files from either the CD or harddrive directory. And when I try to import the *dbx files into my new OE 6.0 I get all sort of errors messages and OE express wont allow me to import or copy or anything.

What do I do? This just has to be a simple fix but I am unable to determine what to do.

Richard Hardwick

Please respond to

October 22, 2004 11:42 AM

What are the error messages you're getting?

October 23, 2004 5:01 AM

I have exactly the same problems - importing my .DBX files after installing Windows XP. I am really hoping that someone comes up with a solution....pleeeeze !!

November 5, 2004 12:20 PM

files from the cd are read only try selecting all the files once transfered to the hard drive then right click and turn read only off.

November 10, 2004 2:40 AM

i have worn out the google search engine,i am using xp pro sp2 i have just done a clean reinstall and backed up all files needed including all .dbx file for outlook express,my problem starts,every time i have done a clean install i copy and paste all the .dbx files into the correct outlook express folder,this time i did the same thing yet import message does not work it come uo with "the specified message could not be opened,it may be in useby outlook express" i then hit ok and it says"no message can be found in this folder try another folder" this is incorect as the .dbx files are there please help, the only thing i did different this time was i networked the folder from another machine instead of copying to cdr,also i have tried turning read only off and still nothing. Please help as there is over 1.5g of emails i need

November 14, 2004 1:00 PM

Win 98 died on me. I couldn't find my CD. So, I just upgraded to Win2000. Thanks, Leo. I followed your instructions and reloaded my old data from the windows diretory. All I needed to know was that the extension was .dbx and I was on my way. This also helped me with other program info also..

November 15, 2004 6:31 AM

I'm in my Dad's bad books. I upgraded his system to XP and lost all his e-mail messages and his address book. My Dad is 86 and this is his lifeline. Any way of getting that info back? I created a new mail profile for him. The default mail profile shows but says is empty. Any help would be much appreciated!

November 16, 2004 11:57 AM

I clicked on "include hidden and system files" when I used seach and all old *.dbx files was found. When I searched usual way ("find all documents"), it didnt find anything.

November 16, 2004 4:15 PM

Dear Leo,

This is pertaining to the issue of importing old emails and address book from Outlook Express 5.0 to Microsoft Outlook 2002. I have tried all the help available on Microsoft Knowledge Base and other places over the internet. It all started after I purchased a new hard disk with 60GB capacity upgrading from my old hard disk of 4GB. I made a clean installation of Win XP on the new HDD.

The problem begun when I tried to import files from D:\Documents and Settings\HAZEL\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{0887FE5A-C877-4E63-B162-A845F3DB1038}\Microsoft\Outlook Express which have the files with extension as .dbx, which is the old hard disk connected to the system as Slave. Whenever I try to import these files in to the new harddisk which is C Drive and the Master disk on the system it always returns with an error.

What I do: Click File, Select Import and Export -> Import Internet Mail and Addresses -> Outlook Express 4.x, 5 -> Destination selected = Outlook Contacts Folder and Options = Allow duplicates to be created. Selecting the mail folder for Outlook Express 4.x, 5 D:\Documents and Settings\HAZEL\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{0887FE5A-C877-4E63-B162-A845F3DB1038}\Microsoft\Outlook Express and it returns the error The mail folder could not be opened. If another application is using this file, please close it and try again.

I also tried to copy all the files from the above location to local hard disk under C:\OE and despite that it returns the same error. I have also made sure that it does not have the read only attribute.

I would appreciate your help in this regard.

I look forward to an early reply. Thanks in advance.

Hazel Misra

November 17, 2004 9:22 AM

was the Microsoft Outlook closed when you tried to copy files to local hard disk under C:/OE ?

November 28, 2004 2:06 PM

Hi Leo,
like most people here I upgraded from 'me' to 'xp' and lost my inbox, sent items etc. I have made a search of my pc for .dbx files but cannot find any.
Is there any way of restoring my lost emails?

November 28, 2004 8:20 PM

Make sure that when you search, you include searching for "hidden" files. That's an advanced option in the search for files dialog, if that's what you're using.

December 19, 2004 1:03 PM

Hi Leo,

Did the search as described by got no hits using "*.dbx". I have lots in my inbox. How can this be?

My problem has been files in my "Inbox" and "Deleted Items" folders keep disappearing yet my options look okay.

On this machine we are sharing three identities on the Microsoft Outlook 6 using Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2.

March 13, 2005 12:15 AM

I have recently just upgraded from win 98 to XP Pro. I am having trouble finding the files.

I have tried all the steps above and searched in hidden folders and files, but all that comes up are the current .dbx files. I need a solution urgently, as alot of important information is in the old outlook express. please email


March 15, 2005 12:19 PM

I upgraded a friends computer from 98 to XP (without backing up his email files first) and the dbx and wab files are not there. Did a search for hidden files with no luck though the old folders are there, the folders are empty. The upgrade was with XP Pro Corp with SP2. There is a knowledge base article but it appears the upgrade deleted the files.

March 28, 2005 12:18 PM

This is a variant question on this topic:
Why would Outlook Express 6 take 3 times as long to start after upgrading from Win98 to XP Pro?
Also, the options 'General' tab is missing the option to turn on MSN messenger or Windows messenger at startup. It used to be there when Win98 was the OS.. What the hell?
Thanks for any hints or brow beatings..

April 3, 2005 11:42 PM

is there a limit of stored messages in outlook express, i have a 4GB of stored messages is it ok.

April 4, 2005 7:35 PM

I've not heard of one, but 4 gigabytes scares me. I most certainly wouldn't put that much in a single folder, and I'd also recommend backing up often.

April 12, 2005 3:27 AM

OE won't switch identities

There's now a fix available. An Overview of the Cumulative Update for Outlook Express 6.0 SP-1.;EN-US;q331923
I'm keeping the workarounds (below) published for those of you that do not care to download the fix.

I think you'll find that the problem was caused by installing SP1. The workaround is to uncheck the "use this identity as default" box under "Manage Identities", and get prompted for which identity to use every time you start.
Another workaround is to hit the F1 key before switching identities. This will bring up the Outlook Express' "Help" window. With this window minimized, you can switch identities to your hearts content.

Annette Burt
April 24, 2005 9:11 PM

I've found my .dbx files under Win 98. I do as you say above, get to next (OE,File,Message,Next) the a blank line comes up and doesn't tell me where they (I know they are in my Win/Sytem file.)

So I click Browse and go thru all the files on C disk until I hit System, and it tells me it's empty.
I've tried System 32 and everything under both of the system file and can't find a thing and yet I can list them under the hidden files.

There's got to be something else. Hopefully, AB

April 27, 2005 9:25 PM

hi ,
i recently switched to win xp pro from win 98...i did back up the program files folder on to another partition ...but now i cannot import my old messages to my outlook express

May 14, 2005 1:00 AM

Thanks very much Leo - it worked a charm. I now have emails back that I deleted long ago. Gives me a chance to review them again. Thanks

June 20, 2005 10:53 AM


i have loaded windowsxp sp2.i have taken mails back configured outlook express imported files every thing ok.suddenly my messages got disappered from all foder in outookexp.this is the second happening.
plz,give me some solution....

December 29, 2005 7:53 PM

Where are my emails going?
Outlook shows them being download but they do not go to my inbox. I can't find where they are being downloaded to. They just dissappear.

How can I fix this problem?

December 30, 2005 10:22 PM

Check your spam folders, and turn off any anti-virus or anti-spam software and see if perhaps they are interfering.

Unique Squeed
January 1, 2006 11:34 AM

I had to back up my files on XP Pro due to a hard drive failure and now that I've used the restore wizard on the newly installed XP Pro, and I launch Outlook Express I don't see my accounts, files and such in their usual places. I thought that since XP Pro had a utility wizard everything would be back in its place as usual. I have only installed the Operating System-XP Pro on the new drive. I have not installed MS Office yet. ( I don't know what difference it would make if I did install Office --would it )?

Please advise.

April 3, 2006 11:34 AM

i was sending mail useing outlook express and suddenly lights gone off and later i found my inbox is empty. so please help me how to get back those mails.

May 8, 2006 8:15 AM

i hope that i clicked defult setting in microsoft outlook setting. my earlier mails,address are disapperd. can u help me to recover my old mails,address. now i am getting my new mails only.

Mark Willcox
June 27, 2006 5:04 PM

I'll look for the .dbx files on my old computer, but seeing that they arene't connected, can I store them on my jump drive and install them on my new computer (xpHOME)How do I "install" the files so my new computer, outlook finds them?

July 8, 2006 10:22 PM

I reset my comp running WinXP and most of my OE folders were missing .. I found them in my AutoCad program and they are now listed as AutoCad dbx files .. How can I get them into OE again?

July 21, 2006 3:47 AM

My hubbie compacted our O E files and they have been converted to .dbx files which we are not able to open as it says it is not a valid Win32 application (whatever that means!)Please pretty please can u help?

September 1, 2006 9:58 PM

I have the same problem with my emails where are they going?
Outlook shows them being download but they do not go to my inbox. I can't find where they are being downloaded to. They just dissappear. I have checked my spam folders, and have turn off Norton anti-virus software, also i have reinstall Microsoft Office. but nothing. I have try to purchase the DBXtract but nothing happend. what do i do?

September 7, 2006 6:46 AM

I bought a new computer about a year ago, and gave my old computer to my twin sister. She just informed me yesterday that she often gets my emails. I have Outlook Express 6, XP Home on a HP Pvailion a614n computer. Is there something I can do to make sure that I recieve all of my emails on my new computer? She lives about 120 miles away from me and has a completely different email address than what I have, and a different company for her internet carrier, although she does use Outlook Express for her email. I raise Chihuahuas, and so my emails are pretty important to my business! I have searched high and low for a solution and that's how I came across your site. Thank you!

Leo Notenboom
September 7, 2006 11:48 AM

It would appear that OE on her computer is still configured to download emali from your account. She would need to remove your account from her OE config.

September 13, 2006 6:41 PM

Hey. . .just noticed Han's post. . .

My missing OE folders are ALSO listed as Auto CAD files. . .SO strange.

September 23, 2006 7:17 AM

Dear Leo:
I am a female senior.
I am with bell
I am unable to get my e-mail
the error reads 0x800ccc0d

Could you help me?
How can I correct this.
Thank You

Leo Notenboom
September 23, 2006 8:48 AM

That's typically because the wrong information was entered that would tell your mail program the name of your mail server. You'll need to double check the emali account configuration in whatever email program it is you're using and make sure it matches what your ISP has told you to use.

Marisa McNamara
March 5, 2007 7:55 PM

Thanks Leo for the information regarding importing old e-mails into Outlook Express. I've been trying to figure out how to do it for days & your advice worked!! Thanks!

Jan Hendrik Rust
April 4, 2007 4:53 AM

Good afternoon Leo. I Have recently upgraded my pc from Win 98SE to Win XP Home, but when I tried to import my old Outlook Express files, I got this message; "No messages can be found in this folder or another application is running that has the required files open. Please select another folder or try closing applications that may have files open." I have directed the browser to where I have saved my Outlook files.

April 16, 2007 12:30 AM

l have upgraded my pc and have lost all my email addys l have tried looking for dbx files, autocad dbx and still nothing can u help pls cheers peter

Richard Domuah
April 26, 2007 12:44 PM

Hi Leo, I was using Outlook Express 2007 and always pressed the send/recive button to update my recieved mails. Unfortunately I did not know that this was permanently cutting all my messages from yahoo into Outlook Express. Now I formatted my pc and installed Windows Vista and I have tried all means to retrieve my old mails but to no avail. I have lost some important files in there which could even send me to jail! I need your advice urgently. Thanks.

May 15, 2007 2:58 AM

I have same problem as the subject. I also can't import, same as comment posted by Jan Hendrik Rust at April 4, 2007 04:53 AM. Where do you post your answer?

May 17, 2007 4:23 AM

hi, brother thank you for hte prior solution
.now i am having a problem in 2000 server
after installing remote desktop in machine ,i cannot connect to that machine through other machines ,
so i want to know that from where to enable
remote desktop in windows 2000 server
help me as soon as u get the mail
and in details

Santosh Srivastava
June 19, 2007 5:20 AM

I have installed WinXp on my laptop and import outlook 6 data from PC ( OS-Win98 ).
In Win98 outlook data are saved
"c:\windows\Application Data\Microsoft\OutlookExpress".
But I can't findout in where are saved outlook data in WinXp. How can backed up my outlook data.
Please Help me.

Roland Grupp
September 28, 2007 2:02 AM

the outlook express inbox email address i cannot find it thanks

October 2, 2007 7:05 PM

thank for your help, save my rear side..

January 22, 2008 11:37 AM

Leo - Employee has a pc running winxp pro and oe6 already collecting emails and an old pc running win98 and oe6 emails. Can I combine the two inbox and sent items emails on the xp pro pc and how?
Thanks in advance,

March 4, 2008 10:09 PM

My system crashed after trying to install an old version of Alien Vs Predator. It would not boot into XP pro at all. I tried everything recomended by HP but to no avail. I reinstalled (flashed) the operating system from the backup partition over the existing one but this deleted my username Walt account and renamed it HP_Administrator. All three of my other username accounts were ok but my personal one walt with the email was renamed. this account had my outlook files about 4 years worth. overlaying the OS let me back into the system, but When I scan for any outlook files it gives me only the other accounts but not my Walt usesrname account which is the one I need. Has XP, Outlook, or Inboxer renamed the outlook files to something else or is it possible it is encripted somewhere on the system? Is my walt account gone for ever now? I cant find any reference to it and my system is too buggy now and I must wipe the drive but not before i know there is no hope. We are building a house and all our contact info was in there also much over seas family stuff. Is it too late for my outlook 10 or 11 files. has my walt account been renamed and squished somewere. The new HP_Admin account had all the desktop Items downloaded and my pictures from my Walt account in it. Its really weird. there is just no walt Account in Documents and settings.

June 27, 2008 4:13 PM

Hi, Leo
Thank you so much for answering my questions in advance. I just upgraded my Windows 2000pro. to Windows XP and lost all emails in outlook express. Can you give me a help? Thanks again!

Sultan Hyder
October 5, 2008 9:46 AM

In my outlook express inbox, some of my mails get Vanished/evaporated.

It has happened twice, during past 10 days. First it happened, I did not have a very clear recollection of what all mails I had lost. I checked in the deleted items folder,
then other folders, retrieved few, and thought I may have accidentally deleted the others. Still, I knew that atleast 3 mails had vanished.

Then yesterday, right all mails received between 1st October to 4th October vanished from Inbox. This time I had not deleted any, and had not emptied the deleted items folder even once in the past 7 days.

Any suggestions/ solutions on how do I retrieve 'evaporated' mails from the Inbox?

Best Regards

November 13, 2008 1:34 AM

mu outlook expres6 sent items e-mails was harddeleted (shift+del) before 10days how to recover sentitems e-mails

Mohamed Hassan
April 10, 2010 3:08 AM

By using Correct e-mail address and password i never get my inbox. evry time i try i get a respond that either my address or password is incorrect

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