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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.
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