Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

I occasionally get reports of people who've lost the contents of their inbox. We'll look at a couple of common causes and resolutions.

The contents of my inbox disappeared! Can I recover?

I've received this question more than once about both Outlook and Outlook Express. There isn't enough information in the questions to pull together "The Answer", but there are definitely a number of things to look at when your email or the folders containing it disappear without warning.

To answer the question directly: maybe. Depending on what happened your mail, like the truth, may still be out there.

One common confusion for both Outlooks under Windows 2000 and Windows XP is that each Windows user account gets their own set of Outlook Express mail folders by default. So if you use multiple accounts in Windows, it's possible that you're simply logged into a different account, and looking at a different set of folders.

Because Outlook and Outlook Express are completely different programs, and each has some unique set of issues to look at.

Outlook Express

Outlook Express also has the concept of "Identities" which is another way to manage multiple users with separate email accounts without requiring different Windows accounts. Make sure you're using the identity you think you are.

Even if you're not using multiple accounts or identities it's a good idea to search your hard disk for additional "message stores", the place where Outlook Express keeps your folders. Use Window's "Search for Files or Folders..." feature to look for "*.dbx" files. The directories in which you find those files are other message stores that Outlook Express has used. Knowing where they are you can now import their contents into your current mailbox if you wish.

If you're running an anti-virus product Microsoft Support has a Knowledgebase article Outlook Express E-Mail Messages Are Missing from the Inbox Folder which discusses an interaction with McAfee VirusScan that can cause the problem.

Depending on your symptoms the KB article Folders Do Not Appear in the Local Folders List may also be helpful.

Also, see below for some more things to look at that apply to both Outlook and Outlook Express.


Outlook supports what are called "Profiles" which are roughly equivalent to Outlook Express's "Identities". In Outlook's case they can be managed through the Windows Control Panel's "Mail" options. Typically there's a single default profile but you can also configure Outlook to ask which profile it should use each time it starts up. Make sure you're using the profile you expect.

Outlook includes a feature called "auto archive" which will automatically move mail items older than a certain amount to an archive folder. Select the Tools menu, Options, Other, AutoArchive and check the settings displayed. It is possible to configure auto-archive to move or delete items without prompting you, so double check the settings. If it's moving items to an archive folder this dialog will also show you where that folder is located.

As with Outlook Express, it's a good idea to scan your hard disk for additional message stores. Search for "*.pst" and "*.ost". These files (not directories) contain the email folders managed by outlook. You can simply use Outlook's File menu, Open, Outlook Data File... to see what they contain.

Outlook includes support for Exchange Server. If you are using Exchange Server based email then your email is typically stored on the server and not on your local machine. Be aware that rules and policies on the server could cause email to be archived or removed without notification. Check with your Exchange administrator to see if that might be the case.

Both Outlook and Outlook Express

Another very easy trap to fall into that might cause messages "disappear" is to simply have an improper view applied. Both Outlook and Outlook Express have the ability to show only messages matching certain criteria. For example "show only unread messages" is a common setting; once you read the message it "disappears". Applying a different view that doesn't restrict which messages are shown causes the message to reappear. Check the View menu in either application (and the Arrange By sub menu if present) to see what your current settings are. If they're restrictive it's possible your mail is still there, just not in view.

If your email accounts are IMAP accounts rather than the currently more common POP3, then your email is by default stored on the mail server and not your local machine. Much like Exchange Server, server-side policies could affect the contents of your mail folders. Be sure to check with your mail administrator.

I have experienced cases where poorly designed backup utilities can get confused if Outlook or Outlook Express are running at the time the backup is performed. The email programs keep their mail files open, preventing the backup programs from actually backing them up. In the worst case scenario (which I experienced) this can cause the backup program to attempt to restore the files to an older previously backed up copy, resulting in disappearing email. The safest thing is to know when backups are scheduled to happen and ensure that Outlook and Outlook Express are both closed prior to that time.

Finally, there is the possibility of corruption. Typically either of the Outlooks will complain if the email files become corrupt in some way. Outlook Express may try to recover but often requires that you simply rename the corrupt folder and allow Outlook Express to build a new one. Outlook comes with the "scanpst.exe" tool that will attempt to repair Outlook's PST files (use Windows Find Files or Folders ability to locate it -- various versions of Office install it in different locations).

Article C1915 - March 28, 2004 « »

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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?

April 8, 2004 6:13 PM

On two occasions, both on Office XP Professional with MS Outlook 2002 client with an Exchange server, we have had users to suddenly lose mail from their Inbox and the mail has not been deleted, nor is it in the Deleted folder or any other folder. All messages are being viewed and no other folders have lost any mail.

Any ideas on what has happened?

April 9, 2004 5:09 AM

Interesting, I have windows 98se on my computer in question. Instead of my e-mails mysteriously disappearing from my inbox, I have deleted e-mails mysteriously re-appearing in my inbox. This just happened today for the first time in a year or so. Todays reappearing e-mails I deleted a day or two ago. Last year I had e-mails reappearing which I had deleted a month or two before. It's weird. The date on them was from the time they had originally come in and I'm positive I deleted them not moved them because I clear out the outlook and check to make sure there is nothing in any of my outlook boxes.

Don Gard
April 22, 2004 4:08 PM

My problem is disappearing inbox and folder material. I'll sign on and everything is empty, although my address book is not affected. I am using Juno 5.0 with Windows 98 and a dial-up connection. I have used the "SFC" feature to check for corrupt files. Any ideas on why this happening?

April 22, 2004 4:57 PM

Unfortunately I have zero experience with Juno, and a quick scan of their on-line help doesn't have a quick answer. You didn't indicate how you are reading your email --- via a web interface, or using some mail program. If the later, which program are you using?


H. Hoefnagel
April 29, 2004 4:19 AM

This morning I logged into the system and started my email (outlook express). Strange thing: i got the welcome screen of outlook express and the leftside inbox icon showed that I received 2 new emails, so I opened the inbox, but no mail at all was shown. even the counters in the bottom bar showed 0 and 0.
Other maps and contacts where unaffected.

Note: i started outlook express, while a private folder named 'doorstuur' was selected. i use to close with inbox selected, except this time....

April 29, 2004 5:38 AM

Hi, it just happened to me that my Outlook Express crashed in middle of receiving an email. I closed the program and re-opened, but no emails were in Inbox. No other folder nor the Address Book was affected. I looked in Identities folder and the Inbox file is still there, still having its 300 MB. However, all my attempts to get those emails out of the file failed. What should I do?!

Thanks for help.


April 29, 2004 8:46 AM

H. Hoefnagel: I'd check to make sure that the view is set properly. In the English version it's View, Current View, and then make sure "Show All Messages" is selected. I'm guessing you're using the Dutch version, but I don't know the menu names in that one.


April 29, 2004 8:51 AM

Josef: If you've tried the various suggestions in this article, then I'm not sure exactly where to send you. There are outlook express repair tools out there, but they aren't free. I've never used one, so can't really recommend one over the other. I know at least one will let you download and try it out to see if it will work before you buy. If it's worth it to you, perhaps that is a route to take.


Don Gard
May 8, 2004 11:10 AM

Sorry for the delay. I don't know the correct terminology since I am a user, not a technician. I would guess, however, that I am using a Web interface since I have Juno software on my computer and click on the Juno icon to assess either my e-mail or the Web.

Don Gard

May 8, 2004 11:19 AM

My recommendation is to get in touch with Juno technical support. My *guess* is that your email is stored on their server, and perhaps you exceeded some limit, or encountered som other Juno-specific issue. Let me know what they have to say.

Vic Chorney
May 12, 2004 6:39 AM

One of my clients, running W2k Pro, rebooted his machine and, when he double-click on the Outlook icon, it welcomed him as a new user. All traces of the original profile were gone! He logs on to only one profile. Any ideas? He wants me to recover the data sonce (needless to say) he hadn't done a backup recently (March 20).


May 12, 2004 12:15 PM

If it welcomed him as a new user it really sounds more like he logged into Windows XP with a different user account. Certainly scanning the disk for pst's and ost's might help you locate the email.

Good luck!

Don Gard
May 12, 2004 8:24 PM

I have already contacted Juno's automated tech support (phone support is $2.95 a minute) and was informed that my problem is not something they are doing and is not "Juno-specific." They suggested that I must have "corrupted" files on my computer and, as I said, I have checked for that.

Don Gard

May 18, 2004 10:10 AM

I too was having the disappearing messages problem and a colleague of mine sent me the information above and the light finally went on. I went to the View menu and the setting had changed to delete read messages. I changed the option and not only did the problem go away, I instantly had all my msgs. back. Happiness is having this problem resolved. Paul

May 18, 2004 11:24 AM

I have Windows XP. My identity deleted itself. I can get to my documents and folders through another identity, but I can't access my e-mail folders, how can I recover my address book and e mails?

May 18, 2004 1:49 PM

Do you mean Outlook Express Identity, or Windows XP User Account? If the later, what email program are you using?

Sam Ellis
May 19, 2004 2:42 AM

Archive file loosing items. Autoarchive set up correctly. Sent items are showing all items but inbox not showing items after 01 Sept 2003. View, Settings set to Messages so this should show all. Would be grateful for any suggestions.

May 19, 2004 9:05 AM

something else to watch out for with "dissapearing mail"

outlook(2002) rules are smart enough to recognise when a folders been moved to a different location within your PST or mailbox and will continue to deliver them to that folder.

wether the user is aware they've moved that folder or not.

the lesson ? always make sure they check subfolders!

May 20, 2004 11:34 AM

I meant the Windows XP identity, and I am using Outlook Express.

May 20, 2004 3:27 PM

For the record, "Windows XP identity" is the wrong term, it's a "Windows XP account" or user account. It seems picky, I know, but using the correct terminology avoids a lot of misunderstanding when trying to diagnose or discuss problems and other computer behaviour.

My recommendation is that you use Start->Search->For Files or Folders.. and attempt to locate any files that end in "*.dbx". One set of those will be the email from your current account, and I expect you'll find another set in a directory underneath "Documents and Settings" that has the name of that deleted account somewhere in its path. Once you've located them, you should be able to use Outlook Express's import functionality to import the email from those files into your own.

Hope that helps.

May 21, 2004 5:50 AM

Changed my network that i log onto, thus a different user account, need to recover the email files, what are the inbox, outbox, ect stored as and where with outlook? can i just copy those files into the new user account for winXP and the messages will be in the correct place?

May 21, 2004 8:07 AM

Ok, I found my user account in Documents and Settings. How can I get it back to the welcome screen?

May 21, 2004 3:28 PM

Ryan: do a file search for *.pst for the outlook mail store for your old account. Once you find it, you can copy it somewhere else and open it as an additional PST in Outlook.

May 21, 2004 4:03 PM

Phaedra: well, you probably can't. A lot of things happen under the hood when an account gets deleted that make it extremely difficult to restore. My recommendation stands for copying out the contents of the email folders you find there by using outlook express's import into yoru current account.

May 22, 2004 9:39 AM

Thanks, Leo. I figured it out. I went into "Administrative Tools," by clicking around until I found it, and found users and groups in there, I found my account and opened it. It had been "locked out" somehow. So, I un-checked the box, and everything was just as it had been. My User Account is now back on the welcome screen, and Outlook Express works great! Thanks for the help.

May 29, 2004 8:51 AM

Please ! I have many messages in my in box ,I must read them .but the internet service said teh inbox is temporary locked.
pl.recover it .

best regards

May 30, 2004 6:43 PM

I'll need to see the exact error message, and I need to know what email program and/or service you are using.

Russell Lobo
June 15, 2004 7:50 PM

Hi Leo,

I have a strange problem with Outlook Express since the last 4-5 days. When I click the Send/Receive button. It shows 3 New emails inbox but when I click the inbox to read the messages & the messages just seem to disappear.

Another thing which I notice when I click the Send/Receive, the task bar shows that Its Checking for messages in the server and at the same time I get Downloading messages from Inbox..

I do not know from which Inbox the messages are downloading but I just cannot seem to find my email messages.

I have tried almost every thing Clicking the View Tab and making sure Show All Messages is marked...I have also disabled by Virus Protection but I still have the same problem where the email messages just seem to disappear and Messages seem to download from some Inbox which I don't know.

I would appreciate your suggestions.

Thank You,


Ricardo Faulhaber
July 1, 2004 9:00 PM

Ok, I've come to find that the standard show all messages view is actually hiding messages in Outlook Express 6... Something has messed up with the views... I've found a "copy of show all messages" that actually shows them when selected...

To change the views use menu View->Current View then select a view type... you can check what the views are really doing by selecting menu View->Current View->Define View...

Now you can read something here:

"OLEXP: Your Messages Disappear If the View Is Set to Show All Messages," at;en-us;314421&Product=oex is the Microsoft Knowledge Base article that documents the problem and their recommended corrective action.

I just hope it would solve some of the problems listed here...

July 13, 2004 2:25 PM

Here's a bizzare one... Recently I had my boyfriend clean up his outlook 2k so we wouldn't have another episode requiring me to resort to using a hex program to destroy the .pst & then use the repair tool to get outlook to open (BTW - there is a patch for getting past the 2mg limit).

So when he finished deleting, all of his files where there. He hit a different folder (maybe an internal folder) & thats when he saw his most important folder disappear (it was open, so seeing several customer names disappear made an impression on him).

He didn't mention the missing folder to me, & I spent some time cleaning up his hard drive because it was a bit sluggish. So, this is why I think that it was overwritten by compacting & defraging.

I have tried everything I can think of to reclaim the folder. I have looked in every possible folder & I have used several different programs to reclaim the lost data.

Has anyone heard of folders disappearing for no apparent reason. & where would they go inside of outlook?

I've also tried looking at his old archives & the info isn't there.


Amby Reesh
July 18, 2004 11:18 PM

I had messages in inbox & sent items folders. Unluckily hard disk had problems. I can boot & load windows from 2nd hard disk ( drive d). But now running outlook express does not show messages when I ran outlook expesss from drive C.

The contents & files on drive c are generally accessible(.) How can I look for those messages ie which file / directory?

July 19, 2004 10:03 AM

I'd search for ".dbx" files on the old C: drive, and then import them into your the new instance of OE.

July 19, 2004 2:22 PM


I recently archived a bunch of folders at work...

Now, some of them are empty. The .pst indicates there's 57MG in the something is in there...
The folder was set to archive all items prior to 7/1/04.

July 20, 2004 10:10 AM

My first step would be to go to rightclick on the top folder representing that pst in the folder let, select propertiesm click on "Folder Size" and see which folders wthin the .pst are taking the space.

Jim Mackonochie
July 27, 2004 8:58 AM

I've read all the comments in this thread, but still have a problem. 5 days ago had an error message (which I did not have time to read), and Outlook Express 6 crashed, as did the system.
On reboot, all messages in inbox had disappeared (320Mb!). Subsequent messages are being stored.
2 days later, the same thing happened with sent items.
I have "view all selected", and tried "copy of show all messages", but no change.
Checking the inbox .dbx file from the correct message store (checked by date), the 320Mb file is there, but loading it, I still just get the messages from the last 5 days - say 2Mb.
I'm using Nortons, de-fragged, system check etc etc.
I'm running under W98SE.
Any advice would be most welcome (not experienced enough to use a HEX editor if that should be required!)

Jimart Aromin
August 19, 2004 7:49 PM

Good and nice articles...

September 1, 2004 10:45 PM

how do i compress the pst file to get it on disk
why u may ask to view it on a new laptop the old as well as new

September 2, 2004 7:19 PM

This article discusses how to compress your folders: - but a network connection, or writing to a CD-ROM, is probably the best way to transfer your PST.

September 5, 2004 3:20 PM

Hi Leo! I deleted my Outlook Express and downloaded some old vertion... Would be nice to find a site to download full vertion for free. If you know where, I would be very greatfull to you for giving me this link. Now I am trying to setup my outlook express for all my hotmail mail, but I don't know the server name. Do you know what I must type into server box and into incoming and outgoing boxes? Thanks a lot!
[email address removed]

September 5, 2004 8:49 PM


Yesterday my pc was crashed, now I recovered back but unable to see the last 2-7 days messages, those messages are important so please let me know how to recover my messages.

Thank you,


mukesh patel

September 5, 2004 9:59 PM

Mike: old versions are addressed in this article:

When setting up for hotmail, it's important to specify it as a "HTML" type of mail service.

September 5, 2004 10:02 PM

Mukesh: what operating system and what mail program are you using?

September 17, 2004 4:20 PM

Hello Leo,

Yesterday I set up Outlook Express 6.0 to synchronize with my hotmail account. Synchronized entire inbox and closed down Outlook. Later connected over internet directly to my hotmail account and deleted all messages there.

Today opened Outlook and all local messages were gone, have these local ones now been deleted with the synchronisation?

Any idea?



September 17, 2004 8:43 PM

My understanding is that outlook express really just provides a window onto the files stored within Hotmail. Delete at hotmail, and they're gone from Outlook. Messages you want to keep should be copied to a local folder in outlook express.

September 23, 2004 12:37 AM

Hello Loe
Without taking backup of inbox i delete my mails from the outexpress and also deleted items.
so how would i recover those mailbox again.

September 26, 2004 6:03 PM

In short: you wouldn't. If you've deleted from both places, and haven't been taking backups, there's little chance of recovey.

October 13, 2004 12:07 AM

hai.some one hak my yahoo id password and i dont rememnber the information of my acount of birth etc. what i do to get my stolen id and pasword .my id niceman495 pls help me.or you chang the pasword of my hacked id and send me back.

November 20, 2004 5:00 AM

Hi Leo
This is Asif .I recently had a problem that i couldn't access any mails from outlook.the message blinks is "Loading...." plz do the needful waiting for reply at the earliest.

December 30, 2004 3:27 AM

Dear Leo,
I use Outlook Ezpress 6, Windows XP home, Office XP, will ALL updates installed. Twice in last 6 months, mails disappeared from my inbox only (not from sent or other folders). Not all mails but about 6 months of my most recent mails. This has happened twice. There is not problem in opening of Express, or other e-mails; only these most recent mails disappeared. Both times, this was after a crash. Can you please help?

Ray Yuen
February 20, 2005 3:47 AM

It happened to me. Try it yourself. Create a dummy email folder in outlook express (I am running XP). Put some old emails in there. Now try renaming the folder to a folder that already exists i.e. sent items or inbox and when you click another folder and return, all your messages have disappeared. They are not in the deleted folder or the recycle bin. I have not changed identities. They have just vanished. Can someone help please.


February 22, 2005 3:04 PM

ATTENTION: FYI - Emails disappearing from Hotmail Inboxes (like all of them) upon login or upon refresh is NOT a problem with your browser, or Outlook or Outlook Express. If your emails were there an hour ago and currently have dissappeared (and you didn't delete them) then it is a problem with Hotmail itself. If your Emails have disappeared from the browser (IE,Netscape,FireFox, etc) view of your Hotmail account then gauranteed they have disappeared from your Outlook or Outlook Express clients as well.

The reason they will have disappeared from Outlook/Outlook Express is because those Email clients are sync'd with the Hotmail servers. If you are logged into your Oulook/Outlook Express all day long, then your Inbox/Junk/Drafts/Sent Messages folders are continuously being sync'd with the Hotmail Servers. If Hotmail has a problem (database loss, server down, etc) and your Outlook/Express Hotmail folders are in the process of getting sync'd then you will most likely see all of your Inbox emails (and other saved emails) disappear.

It does not matter if you have been logged in all day long, or are logging in for the first time that day - your Inbox messages will be gone if the Hotmail Servers or Databases are having this seemingly perpetual problem. This has happened in the past and it seems it is happening with more and more frequency in recent months.

There is nothing you have done to cause this and there is nothing you can do to recover them on your own. But fear not, Hotmail will eventually get it corrected and suddenly all of your emails will return. Even a few new ones.

Hotmail stores login information, email counters, address books, etc in a different databases then the actual emails themselves. Thus is why you will see your Inbox say you have (10) new messages yet when you go to your Inbox you don't see the 10 new messages, nor do you see any of your other messages that were previously in your Inbox. You must understand that the actual email Databases are HUGE, beyond your comprehension of physical data storage space. We are talking Pentabits of information spread across several dozen clusters of servers. When a cluster goes down, or a database gets corrupted or the server processor(s) gets bogged down ....(or..or....or....or...the list can go on) - then temporarily, the databases that serve up/list your emails become unavailable and thus you see an EMPTY inbox folder.

Currently, my personal hotmail account is empty, yet this morning before I left for work it had over 240 email messages. Sometime between 9am and 10:15am certain systems went down at Microsoft causing my emails to dissappear. This is the 7th time this has happened in the last 3 weeks and probably the 25th time its happened in the last 3 years. But they always come back - highly incovnenient but there is little, well nothing, you can do about it. The best way to project yourself is to use Outlook/Outlook Express and create a folder outside of the Hotmail Folder section - then move your Hotmail Inbox Emails to that folder. If you create the folder under the Hotmail Section then that means you are still storing your emails on the Hotmail Servers - you are not storing them locally. If you create the folder outside of the Hotmail subfolders, then you will be saving them locally.

March 3, 2005 1:56 AM

Dear Leo,
I have a prob in outlook express 6.(i.e)If we click to draft,sent item, etc and again if we click inbox the content of the inbox disappears.
The content of the inbox appears once we restart the pc. But again it disappears if we select sent item,etc and come back.
Creating an new identity and we import also the inbox is not importing.
Pl help me in this prob.

April 11, 2005 3:23 AM

I am using outlook express 6. I encountered a problem today that shook me. I checked my mail in the morning and closed the application. I again opened the outlook after some time and all the emails of year 2005 vanished. I checked everything but couldnt find it. Everything else of the year 2005 were there (in sent items, deleted files) but none of the 2005 mails are there. Kindly help me with this one



April 14, 2005 9:38 PM

I am using the latest version of OE and I had a bunch of emils in my inbox this morning. When I got home, my computer was frozen, I restarted and my inbox was empty. Tried extracting the contents of inbox.dbx with dbxtract, but it was empty too. This sucks, it appears that I cannot recover my inbox, but I find comfort that I am apparantly not alone. At least I know that now, my important emails will have message rules guiding them to the proper folder to prevent this loss from happening again.

April 15, 2005 10:29 AM

my hotmail goes straight into the trash can instead of inbox can you tell me why

April 15, 2005 7:39 PM

A reader alerted me to one idea, so here's a new article:

June 9, 2005 9:15 AM

Hotail- INBOX
The messages form INBOX (checked /unchecked)disappers immediately / after one day.
This causes great inconvinience.

please rectify the problem.

June 9, 2005 9:12 PM

When trying to log onto my hotmail I receive the following message:

What Can I Do!!???

Account Temporarily Unavailable

We apologize, but your account is temporarily unavailable. This delay does not affect the entire site or result from any problem specific with your account however the server that holds your account information is temporarily unavailable. We do not expect this delay to last much longer, so please continue to check our site for your account status.
We will do our best to make your account available as quickly as possible. We appreciate your support, and sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.

June 9, 2005 9:16 PM

I'd wait for the problem to clear up, like the error message indicates.

June 10, 2005 3:15 PM is June 10th 2005...
I was checking my email on outlook express v6 this morning and all my emails were gone from my inbox...there were some left in my sent forlder from a certain date email system seems to be working fine ...I have recieved mails since then and they are in my inbox...What could have happened to my mail....I have made sure there were no rules and have done extensive searches in my hard disk for any trace of them...nada....
has anyone resolved this problem or have a clue as to what this is? please help, I am so worrie that some one hijaked them....


June 17, 2005 2:46 PM

I recently decided to 'trial' Peoplepc internet, and when I loaded the software from the trial disk it overrode my existing Outlook Express files and I've lost a years worth of emails/addresses, etc that I recieved through my Verizon account. I've looked at identities and accounts in the Outlook Express files and verizon seems to have disappeared. I just did a files search looking for .dbx files but found nothing. I've looked in the recycle bin and nothing... Did I just not say yes at the right moment during downloading peoplepc. or has anyone else had this problem? Any ideas where else to look? Heidi

stephen wanda
July 10, 2005 11:47 PM

my dbx folder seems to have mails it has 345mb size but in the outlook inbox has nothing

August 14, 2005 4:13 PM

Dear Leo
I run OE6 on 98SE. I suddenly lost all my emails from all my folders. I also lost all the folders, other than the defaults, as well as all my message rules. My mail accounts are still there and OE seems to be now running normally given what I've lost.
The dbx folders (including non-default folders I created) are still there in the Store Folder under the maintainance tab. But if I try to import them I get a message reading: "The specified message store could not be opened. It may be in use by Outlook Express." and "No message could 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 don't have any other applications open which would obviously use email files. I tried copying the dbx folders to another folder but had the same messages when I tried opening the files from that folder.
I've tried all the View options mentioned in this thread without result.
I used to run McAfee but haven't for some time and I think that all parts have been removed - I understand that can sometimes cause problems. I now run AVG anti-virus and a Zone Alarm firewall. I'd be extremely grateful for any help,
Best Wishes

August 22, 2005 11:52 AM

None of these suggestions work. I tried to "compress" my Outlook (5.0.6 for Mac) and lost the last 7 days worth of emails as well as many of my Address book contacts. The strange thing is that it seemed to "revert" back to an older address book (everything I had added was gone, everything I had removed a year or so ago was back!) I only have one identity, so that's not the problem.

August 25, 2005 8:16 AM

I am facing a problem of Missing mails. exchange log says mails recevied from external world and delivered to the respective users. but the user not received the mails and sender also doesn't get a NDR mail. I am not able to locate mail on the exchange sever 2003 also.

Anu suggestions pls

very very urgent

August 25, 2005 9:47 AM

Typically it's over agressive spam filtering on the recipient end. This article may help:

September 8, 2005 11:29 PM

my problem is that ia can no more get access to my inbox.... do help please very very urgent!!!

September 9, 2005 9:09 AM

Try this article:

September 23, 2005 12:02 AM

I see questions but few answers. I was sorting emails when computer crashed (Win98SE). Had to nd task and go back to find inbox empty of all emails except most current 3.

October 23, 2005 6:33 PM

My problem is I have deleted my profile.

I can recover all my emails but all of my email accounts are missing. Is there a quick way to recover them without going through the add email process please ?

October 23, 2005 9:16 PM

You didn't say what mail program you use, so there's no way to answer for sure.

In general, the answer's no, but check with your email program's vendor as well if you can.

Phil Blackburn
November 10, 2005 5:28 AM

Something I have found helpful under Windows XP is to check the disk for errors. The OE Inbox seems particularly prone to getting hit by file inconsistencies, even under NTFS.

To do this you need to open My Computer, right-click the C: disk, select Properties then the Tools tab and click on Check Now. Tick the option that says Automatically Fix File System Errors and then click Start. It will tell you that it cannot run and give you the option to run the check when the system next starts up. Click Yes, then shutdown/restart the computer. During the startup it should run a disk check and tidy up any inconsistencies. Sorry this is so convoluted, but I have not been able to find a more direct way of doing this.

November 24, 2005 6:35 AM

when someone sends me an email it arrives but the there is no text in the body of the email.
I can see who it is from what time it was sent ect but that is all.
any ideas?

November 24, 2005 10:48 PM

Is that true for all mail, or just from some people? ANd what mail program do you use?

January 22, 2006 9:44 AM

I already renamed the corrupt folder - is there any way to recover the messages that were lost from doing that?

March 12, 2006 9:58 PM

OK I'll try to give detail, even if it may just appear significant and be coincidental.

The only different thing I did was do a scan with "spybot search and rescue" which I hadn't done before on this hard drive (new as of about a couple of months) It found somethings for which deletion was recommended... I complied.

The next time I went to my outlook express (not immediately after) there was nothing in my inbox. But my delete-box and my sent-box were still complete, so I figured that it had just been my inbox. That was about a week ago.

I have many other folders and went into one of them tonight and lo and behold, it was empty too! I checked them all and found only 2 (of 22) of the additional folders and sub-folders still had their contents. Which is even stranger! Why were some spared???

I'm miffed. Was it my doing? Yesterday my antivirus program (antivir) detected something [TR/Java-ClassLdr.C]which I deleted but this was after the fact. Or was it?

What d'ya think?


July 24, 2006 7:58 PM

Overnight, a lot (about one third) of my emails disappeared from my Inbox in Outlook Express. No rhyme or reason as far as what date (five from yesterday alone) and they are nowhere to be found. Some of them date back as far as 2003. I had a tech guy here this morning who was flummoxed and rang another two who had never heard of it either. I've checked the event viewer to see if there was a problem, that's all fine. Nothing else touched in any of the other nine or ten folders I've got. The backup only went as far as June...and of those I reimported, most say "Outlook Express encountered an unexpected problem while displaying this message. Check your computer for low memory or low disk space and try again." As my memory and disk space is fine...I'm at a loss. The whole folder is about 300mb, so falls within what's acceptable in size.
It's not been archived, nor did the folder disappear... just some 250 or so emails vanished. I've had pc's for many years and always used OE - never had a problem like this. Any help as to what might have happened would really be appreciated!!


August 12, 2006 4:39 AM

Just logging another inbox disappearance here. Mine disappeared on July 28th (as did some others I've read about lately). In almost 20 years of using various incarnations of Windows this has never happened to me before, even back when hard drives were really 'delicate'.

August 28, 2006 8:32 PM

Regarding "Another very easy trap to fall into that might cause messages "disappear" is to simply have an improper view applied."

How very true. After a few years of running OL, and more than a decade of running OE, I had no idea of what the problem may be. Applying the above solution fixed the problem of not seeing any messages in the most important folder I keep. I had given up trying to find the solution.

Thank you!

September 13, 2006 6:35 PM

Lost my Inbox, too. . .after 7 years of Happy Happy Outlook Expressing. . .
Just disappeared. . .and all that was in it.
Even the icon on the side that says "Inbox" is gone. . .Have tried all the suggestions above. .to no avail . .

November 8, 2006 1:41 PM

Messages in my "Sent" Folder disappeared but not all of them - I still have a message sent today and messages from 2004 until Feb 2005. Everything from Feb 2005 until yesterday disappeared. Any ideawhat happened? I haven't made any backups - I was going to do it today :-( I would appreciate if you could help me. Thanks a lot !

November 30, 2006 8:11 AM

Very Very Usefull.
Thanks a lot!
Solved the problem and customer satisfied

December 19, 2006 6:30 AM

i deleted myself by mistake my own inbox Outlook Express!!
Is there any chance i can recover it ?
Thank you very much for your answer!

February 12, 2007 10:26 AM

The last time I used my email account was just before Christmas. Upon logging in today 12/02/07 I was greeted with: 'Congratulations, your account has bee reserved for you'. I continued only to be directed to a new account. I need my old one. It got lots of stuff for my university course. I'll die if I can’t get my old or recover the contents of my mailbox.

I’ve read your answers but none exactly addressed my problem. I use the university’s network computers and I can log in from anywhere which means searching hard drives is out of the question. I suppose things are saved on uni’s server? If so, how do I go about recovering my stuff?

I’m sure I’ve been given a new account; what happened to the old one?

Leo Notenboom
February 12, 2007 10:39 AM

Hash: SHA1

MOST free email providers will remove account after some period of

If this is for your Hotmail account, then you want this article:

If this is some kind of email account provided by the university, then
you need to contact the university's IT department, or whereever you got
the account from.

Version: GnuPG v1.4.6 (MingW32)


February 22, 2007 10:53 PM

Tonight I downloaded 45 new messages (POP3) to Outlook Express, but when I clicked the link to view my inbox they all disappeared (along with every message in my inbox that was dated later than 9/26/2005).

This is not a problem with view. I'll double check the settings and try some of the recovery methods that you suggest.

March 7, 2007 8:19 AM

I had a similar problem - my OE inbox simply disappeared. I just managed to get into the folder (which was hidden) and find the file, which obviously went over the 2gb limit, causing this problem. What I want to know is this - how do I get these e-mails from the inbox.dbx file when I can't open the file because it's too big?

April 12, 2007 11:36 AM

I just encountered this problem as well. I tried everything from recreating the account to detect and repair, scanning for viruses and reinstalling Office 2003. Email was just not there but if i did a search for a peice of email it was right there in the inbox just was not showing up, invisible. I was able to resolve this problem by doing the most simplest thing. Clicking on the Received header bar. all my email came back. Not sure why but this is a true story.

April 18, 2007 6:49 AM

Hi Leo,

I have a problem to the one that Kathleen had.

I am unable to see any mails in my inbox from Novembr 26,2006 to April 17, 2007.

Today, I had opened my outlook express...and could see the indicator of the unread mails increasing in my inbox.

As I clicked on the 'view mails'link....all mails in my inbox from the last 5 months just vanished.

I continue to get my mails and can see all mails before and after the above mentioned dates.

Any suggestion to recover my mails?

I have tried importing it from 'inbox.dbx'. ...but I haven't got the missing emails.

All my views etc are correctly enabled.


John Mosby
April 26, 2007 5:38 PM

Read the piece at the top (very informative) but still have almost exactly the same specific prob as immediately above. After on brief problems today displaying content of e-mails, suddenly there's no e-mails between May of last year and today at all, though plenty before that still left. I DID have a ton in the Inbox and had started to weed out all the useless e-mails recently. I do remember that this happened on an old desktop years ago, but not sure how I got them back. I'm currently running Windows XP / Outlook express. ANY and ALL assist gratefully received.

John Mosby
April 26, 2007 6:50 PM

Further to my e-mail earlier this evening and combining the info in the original post at the top with info from some colleagues, I managed to restore everything. I located the dbx folders (by using the normal search facility with 'advanced' to make sure I saw the 'hidden' files). Sure enough there had been a new file created called Inbox.bak (the missing e-mail section created during a spontaneous compacting). To get the missing e-mails baack, I simply renamed the Inbox.bak file as Inbox.dbx AFTER renaming the 'current'/new Inbox.dbx as something else (effectively just swapping the two files back). Hope that info helps anyone findign this.

Frank McKay
May 17, 2007 6:52 AM

I have read and unread amounts that show on the bottom of my inbox in my Microsoft Outlook. They have disappeared. How do I get this feature back?

Sanjay Chauhan
May 25, 2007 3:19 AM

Frequently I do face problem in my outlook express and MS Outlook. Suddenly my all mails goes disappear. and no new mails can download in inbox. then I have to remoove all folders from identities then I can download but by old mails never recovered. Its happening always there is any ristriction of no of emails in a single identities. Kinldy help me.

Robert Crossley
May 26, 2007 4:12 AM

With respect to the contents of the inbox disappearing on Outlook Express you can go to views Views >> Current View >> Hide Read Messages I had activated this accidently, causing my inbox contents to disappear. Easily resolved.

David Collins
June 7, 2007 12:13 PM

Hi I had the same problem with outlook express and used Mike's solution above which worked. Thanks very much. It seems that outlook express has a maximum storage limit and then starts a new folder. The old folder is still in the hidden files. So I just renamed as in Mike's solution. I have an older version of outlook express so the folders were just called Inbox and Inbox (1). I had to rename Inbox as Inbox (1) having changed the name of Inbox (1) first of all so It would not delete any of the files. I then set to work to delete much of my old Inbox should the maximum be reached again.

prakash kunder
June 16, 2007 4:20 AM

I have missed mail from November 06 to 13 June 07,kindly suggest me some solution.

jeff marc
June 18, 2007 6:16 PM

OK, i found my inbox.dbx file, its 347767k and the only one on my c:, no other inbox anywhere , even when serached for as inbox.*.
But suddenly my inbox only shows the most recent 39 emails!
I tryed importing the inbox.bdx into another computers outlook express folder and it only imported 39 messages for this 347767k file!

Is there some way to read all the messages that are in this .dbx file again, i have emails for over 2 years in there, some email addresses i can't get anymore are in this folder.

I tryes all the stuff in the comments above and nothing has worked for me.


June 22, 2007 11:37 AM

Many thanks to the "Ask-Leo" website and John Mosby's info concerning restoring Outlook Express e-mail messages. I thought I'd lost a year's worth of saved e-mail's. I patiently used his directions, and after locating the *.bak and *.dbx, using 'search files', with the advanced option of finding 'hidden files', was able to find and restore my Inbox and messages. I think I'll save the older messages to a back-up file now, or never use 'compact messages' again! The information provided here was much easier to find and follow than the Microsoft support website. Again, many thanks. :)

Dan G.
July 1, 2007 7:58 AM

When I opened Outlook Express today, every file in my inbox was missing, except for the two new e-mails which I received today. I checked to make sure that I was using the proper identity. I tried using the OE-Mail Recovery utility from the internet, but it would only retrieve the two new e-mails. When I found the Inbox.dbx file, it was only 137 kb. Do you have any ideas on how I could possibly recover my 3 years of lost e-mail?

July 13, 2007 8:24 AM

Thank you!

My messages from over a week ago suddenly started disappearing! I turned out I had somehow made the view "7 days." When I unchecked it, they all reappeared.

Ed Maltas
July 15, 2007 10:44 PM

Please help. I'm using Outlook 2002, and my file size is 1.5 mg, not 2.0 and after about 3 minutes of starting Outlook, none of my folders are accesible - I get a gray screen that says folder can not be found. I can exit out, and go back in, and all is OK for a 3 or so minutes and then the same thing happens.

Please help.

August 29, 2007 4:21 PM

Today I decided that I would use Outlook on my local computer to access my Outlook account from work. I am running Outlook 2003 on XP at home and we are running Exchange Server 2003 at work. I set up a new email account and put in the server information and my account info. Everything seemed to be working fine until I noticed that email was appearing on my home computer, but disappearing from my work computer. It only seemed to have happened to my "inbox" and not the other folders. The rest of the folders are duplicated on both machines as I intended. Does anyone have any clues as to how this happened and how I can recover my inbox at work.


September 11, 2007 7:35 AM

The Archive folder in Outlook 2003 was set up on an XP machine but it displays above the inbox folder for about 5 seconds then disapears. How can I resolve this problem?

E. Berry
November 29, 2007 7:01 AM

I recently had the contents of my OE 6 INBOX disappear, my personal OE 6 folders and contents were still intact. The 222mb Inbox.dbx file was located in the identities folder as expected, however a new dbx file emerged "Inbox (1).dbx". I closed OE, deleted the "Inbox (1).dbx" file, renamed the old "Inbox.dbx" file to "Inbox (1).dbx" and reopened OE to find my Inbox contents were back. Saved money not having to go to third party software to recover.

January 4, 2008 4:49 PM

Please help, i had same problem with

January 4, 2008 5:36 PM

please help, i have been missing my new messages from December 2, 2007 onwards, i can see that i have new messages and the outlook is downloading it, but when i check my inbox, theres nothing new, no new message is in my inbox, i try the solution in this forum but it doesnt' work for me, please, kindly help me
- Jeff

Leo A. Notenboom
January 7, 2008 11:07 AM

Hash: SHA1

Perhaps check your junk mail folder?


Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)


Joe Campbell
January 8, 2008 7:23 PM

I have lost part of my inbox messages. Everything from 3/26/07 to this morning 1/8/08, 7:21 am. OE was open but gave an error when I tried to "send/receive". So, I closed the program to start fresh and got the "compact to save space" message and I unfortunately said ok to that. When I reopened OE I was missing the large block of messages. I have searched and found the .dbx files and location for the stored messages, etc. I have been unable import any new messages by renaming files etc. I also searched for inbox.bak files and didn't find any. I also tried restoring my system to yesterday. Are there any other suggestions?? Thank you very much.

Joe Campbell
January 11, 2008 10:39 PM

I purchased DBXpress and it found the files on the disk and the messgages are now back in OE inbox folder. YEA

March 8, 2008 6:24 PM

Hi Leo,

I've read through every comment on this article, and none of them have proven useful to my situation.

This morning I restarted my computer when it froze during the download of an email in Microsoft Outlook Express 6. When the restart was completed, I opened Outlook Express to find that none of my existing subfolders in my inbox were there, and I have none of my received emails at all. All of the deleted, sent, and draft messages are here, but nothing else.

I am the only user of my computer, and therefore the only identity in Outlook Express is my own. I ran the "search" application for any .dbx file extensions in the computer, and nothing was found.

Not to sound whiny, but all of the information I've received about school trips I've been planning to Europe is missing, as are all scholarship and university information I've kept for my students to access. Close to 1'000 other emails were deleted as well, though those emails were of slightly less importance.

If there is any way to retrieve these lost emails, I am certainly eager to try it.

Thank you,

March 14, 2008 8:14 AM

Check your recycle bin. OE moves your old inbox file there. Right click and restore.

March 21, 2008 11:20 PM

My inbox desappeared, but sent items and deleted items are still there.
It happend after a small rectangular window poped up ofering to compact the outlook express and free disc space. I clicked OK, the compactification started, and after that I lost the inbox.
I can receive new e-mails.
What can I do to recover the old e-mails?

April 10, 2008 5:15 AM

Hi Leo

can you help please ?
The contents of my inbox disappeared one by one before my very eyes.

new e mails also disappear.

I'm on vista home

any ideas ?

thanks steve l

July 25, 2008 7:23 AM

Hi - this exact same thing happened to me - I booted up and my inbox was empty and all the folders within my inbox - all the emails I have ever received and wanted to keep. Eventually, I think we found them in the Recycle Bin - we clicked on 'Restore All' - they have come out of the Recycle Bin but not appeared anywhere else and we can't find them anywhere? How can such a terrible thing happen so easily? Sent, Archive etc are all still there. Thanks

July 30, 2008 8:22 AM

Hello Leo, Before I begin let me say that I am a layman but a great robot in that I am able to follow directions very well, with that said, yesterday morning I was cleaning out spam and junk mail from all my email addresses in my Outlook 2003. While I was doing it somehow I must have deleted the stuff in my Outlook AOL inbox, as well as the AOL inbox online. There are some vitally important emails that I haven’t answered in there yet. And before you ask I pretty much purged my deleted messages. I think it's still on the hard drive somewhere. I checked the recycle bin and no luck. I went on line to AOL mail, and tried to undelete recently deleted, no luck. So far I can’t find it. How can one recover this file/folder? What about a restore point hiding somewhere in my computer.

I have not yet rebooted since this happened, ironically I begin my day by rebooting to help speed up my turtle of a computer. I also have not purged anything since this incident. Help!

August 14, 2008 7:17 PM

I was setting up a new machine running Vista - usually I use Outlook Web Access but on my desktop was an icon for outlook - I clicked on it and followed the setup directions and now all my email is in this outlook on the local machine not on OWA. is there a way I can get the outlook on my computer back to OWA? I travel around alot so OWA works best - any thoughts? Thanks

September 4, 2008 4:32 PM

I am having similar problems.I use Windows XP with Outlook Express as my e-mail handler.The last 2 times the computer has asked me if I wanted to compact files to free up disc space I have said yes.First time I lost all messages in my inbox from 5/11/2008 to 6/29/2008.Last night I lost all messages in my inbox from 6/30/2008 to 9/4/2008.Before the last 2 times the compaction process has given me no problems.I noticed that the small window said "compressing" then after that another small window said "deleting".No other folders were affected.Inbox.dbx file does not contain the missing messages.Archive folder does not contain the missing messages.Recycle bin had a Inbox.bak file of 528,000kb modified 9/4/2008 at 12:15 am, exactly when this happened but right clicking to restore it produced no results in Outlook Express.I am happy others are having this exact problem because maybe someone can figure out what is going on.It is apparently a recent problem and is perhaps Microsoft related?I am running Norton anti-virus.I will be happy to supply any additional information required to solve this problem but I have pursued the possible solutions detailed at the beginning of this page to no avail.I am not missing any folders,just messages. Thanks

September 6, 2008 12:39 AM

our inbox contents also disappeared (Outlook/ Vista) and I found another 'bar' underneath the standard column headings which said:
Contents none (26 items)

I tried to highlight this to copy it and then a +/- sign appeared and so did the contents of the mailbox. I could then click the +/- sign to make the contents appear and disappear at will. Now I've left the mailbox alone for 10 minutes or so and the 'Contents' bar has totally disappeared.

No idea why it appeared in the first place and no idea why it disappeared. but this may help someone else with lost mailbox contents.


September 9, 2008 10:34 PM

Using Vista/Home/Windows Mail.. Contents of Inbox havde disappeared. If I receive new mail, it is visible in the Inbox but if I reboot, it also disappears... View setting is correct.

Jim Beaver
September 13, 2008 12:44 PM

Weird variation of this problem, with OE in XP. In the middle of some activity, suddenly the contents of my Inbox disappeared (no other folders were affected). The weird part is that the Inbox still shows the same number of unread emails, and when I download new email, the number increases, but those emails are invisible, too. So it seems in my case that the emails are there, they're just invisible. What's up with that?

Mike Taylor
September 22, 2008 11:12 AM

I removed an email account from Outlook 2003 because I was adding a new one. When I sent and received messages the new one was correct, and the old one didn't work anymore, which is why I clicked remove. This subsequently deleted all my saved emails. How can I retreive an email account I have removed?

Mahesh Gangwani
October 15, 2008 2:49 AM


Can you let me know, as to how can I solve the problem of missing emails from the Inbox, what I forsee is the Inbox has the maximum capacity of 2 GB, that is the reason. How do I recover the mails, I can see them in the D drive in Inbox but cannot open from there.


cs jones
October 24, 2008 10:12 AM

outlook express inbox mail disappeared

November 12, 2008 9:18 PM

I have compact my mails on outlook express. Now i dont have mails on the .dbx files. I want to extract to my cpmpacted files. Now what should i do to restore my mails?

Becky Roberts
November 13, 2008 8:22 PM

I have a similar problem with messages in my inbox disappearing. I use Windows Mail and have Windows Vista. I have had this computer for over a year, but this problem started about 3 months ago. For example, I will get 10 new emails, I open them all, but a few of them I want to keep and reply to, but first I needed to look at some emails in another folder. If I click on any other folder or close my email, when I return to my inbox to reply, all of the emails are gone. I have no idea where they went. However if I right click on the inbox and then click on properties, it tells me that there are 337 emails in my inbox, but in my inbox there is NONE, ZERO, NADA, so what is going on? It is like when my emails disappear they go into another inbox and have just been accumulating, because I can't get to this other inbox. I know this sounds strange, but it is a fact and is EXTREMELY ANNOYING. I have had several what I consider computer people and they couldn't figure it out either. Can you or anyone help me?
Rebecca Roberts

November 16, 2008 11:10 PM

I was able to find an Inbox.bak in my recycle bin, restored this file, rename my current inbox.dbx to inbox2.dbx and renamed inbox.bak to inbox.dbx. Launched outlook express and my inbox was restored to when a compression was last run. Luckily for me I only lost todays mails.


sam frutz
December 2, 2008 1:18 PM

is there an answer to Ken at September 4, 2008 problem I had the same problem 2 times how do I recover my emails needed so desperately

December 5, 2008 6:57 AM

All contents of my inbox have dissapeared does anyone know how i can retreive them , i have read article but everything i try doesnt seem to work
many thanks

mark jackier
December 8, 2008 10:10 AM

My email inbox messages disappeared after a window popped u and asked me if I wanted to compact my messages; just the inbox messages were gone; not the sent or deleted. I use outlook express XP

January 12, 2009 2:09 AM

I use MS outlook 2007. I have created a separat pst file where I move my emails from my default pst file.

the problem is after I move my emails from my default pst file into the created/attached pst file, the emails are removed after sometimes. However I can see the number emails and folder size is correct but I don't simply see emails :(. your help will be very appreciated :).



Nancy Brumley
January 22, 2009 7:20 AM

I have compact my mails on outlook express. Now i dont have mails on the .dbx files. I want to extract to my cpmpacted files. Now what should i do to restore my mails?

January 28, 2009 10:50 AM

it looks like somebody was fiddling with my pc and i cant read my e mails please help to recover my settings

Kim Harris
February 9, 2009 6:26 AM

Upon manually compacting ,using windows Xp,my entire In -box ran off somewhere and has got lost.New emails still come through to my inbox but the "old" just seem lost.Any ideas?.I run AVG anti virus
Thanks Kim

February 9, 2009 11:39 PM

I have a lot of email in my inbox. I want to keep the old email, but I don’t want to show it in the inbox. What should I do?

Neil Elliott
February 20, 2009 1:15 AM

Hi, it just happened to me that my Outlook Express crashed in middle of receiving an email. I closed the program and re-opened, but no emails were in Inbox. No other folder nor the Address Book was affected. I looked in Identities folder and the Inbox file is still there, still having its 300 MB. However, all my attempts to get those emails out of the file failed. What should I do?!
The biggest setback here is that I do not have any bak files in my system as the were deleted off the system.

May 11, 2009 6:24 AM

Hi, I moved Inbox mails to some other mails after that Subfolder mails i am able to view but inbox mails i cant view please Any body help ASAP.

July 2, 2009 2:28 PM

OE 6 was compacting files when power went out and computer went off. When I next opened OE, all emails in the Inbox from 5/28/09 thru 7/1/09 are missing. Anyone know any way I can recover these emails?

September 10, 2009 6:35 PM

Is there a "recover my inbox contents... for dummies??" I don't speak computer swaheelie and don't understand what you are talking about. Is there a simple version to recover my lost inbox...??

September 15, 2009 9:16 AM

help!! Please!

So like a dummy, I removed my old work Exchange Email server from email accounts. Figuring the email was stored locally somewhere.

Well, now, that profile is gone and i can't get to the email. Please help..i'll pay handsomely!

November 16, 2009 3:09 AM

Hi, it just happened to me that my Outlook Express crashed in middle of receiving an email. I closed the program and re-opened, but no emails were in Inbox.

Joel Friedman
December 2, 2009 10:35 AM

Similar to another comment, I deleted an exchange server account that was no longer in use. Now all I see is the Archive folders. Anyway to recover the other folders? One folder was specific to a POP account and that is gone to, along with all sent mail. Thanks very much for any help.


December 14, 2009 4:46 AM

Thank you for this post. For the last week my emails in my inbox have been disspaearing. Thanks to your post I've just changed my View and all of a sudden I have hundreds of emails back in the inbox! Yay! Thank you again :)

Jack Menashe
January 6, 2010 11:27 AM

If I delete an older work email account from Outlook, will I lose the folder & the emails?
Should I move the folders first to another location?

January 12, 2010 10:59 AM

would someone capable of giving simple instructions to retrieve the messages which were in my gmail inbox?

January 15, 2010 1:30 AM

the problem with exchange server inbox is very genera. this may arrive due of error in exchange server. By using recover exchange server user can recover the Inbox problems easily. All Inbox errors are eradicated by by using the above software.

February 2, 2010 8:34 AM

I have a problem my outlook express inbox.dbx file got to big and now it won't display my inbox emails when i open outlook express. How can I fix this problem?? Please help...

February 9, 2010 1:50 PM

for the past week my e-mail isn't there.

Ivy Rivera
February 12, 2010 1:12 PM

I located the file. Outlook took everything and put it in an inbox.bak file. NOw: how do I put everything back again. I can do nothing with this file, not export, import, restore... Please send me some suggestions!

Brian Mehl
February 23, 2010 7:50 AM

Move the inbox.bak and folders.dbx to another folder. Rename the inbox.bak to inbox.dbx. Then open OE and use the File->Import to import messaged from the moved inbox.dbx. The folders.dbx is important because it points to the inbox.dbx and other folders. If this fails use software available at to recover missing messages.

Peter Chapman
February 25, 2010 2:58 AM

Outlook Express inbox gradually displayed fewer messages. Each time I looked there were fewer - down to 47 then 38, 32, 21 . . . . . 11, 9 . . . 3, 2, 1 then none.

They disappeared in date order - towards the end I could only see emails received last September.

But the files are still there because when I use the Outlook Express Search program and type in the sender and email title then it finds it and displays it.

I ran a Norton full scan that took more than four hours but after removing six cookies it found no threats.

I need help here

Peter Chapman

February 25, 2010 1:53 PM

hi, my outlook has disappeared. it says that problem occured try restarting or reinstall. When i look under the profile it is blank and wants me to add a new one. I dont want to do this as i want to recover my old emails - any ideas??

March 17, 2010 3:39 AM

I have an email account at work, and its on my laptop, however I took my laptop to be repaired and the company deleted everything on my computer therefore my email account had been deleted. I put the email account back on again, but all my previous emails/folders aren't there anymore!!! Can i get them back?

Marie Cohen
March 26, 2010 1:32 PM

Can I recover folders that have suddenly disappeared on me ? help thank you !!

Noelle V
April 12, 2010 2:25 PM

When I installed outlook express using a microsoft exchange account, express pulled all of the e-mails in my exchange inbox and they disappeared from my outlook account which I have set up on another computer. I found where the emails were stored by express and the .dbx file (which I copied, but the outlook computer does not see because it is looking for .iaf files) and was able to export them manually, but I can't import them manually as emails. They become attachments. I don't have outlook installed on the same computer that I am using for outlook express, so I could not use the export function to move the emails back to the exchange server. Is there something else I can do to fix this problem? I need to have the emails in my outlook account. If there is a way to save the .dbx or move it to an outlook folder, instructions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

May 19, 2010 7:31 AM

Noelle V:

I had a user with this same issue after he setup Outlook Express rather than Outlook by mistake.

We resolved this by re-setting up Outlook (Control Panel -> Mail -> Email Accounts -> New) and adding the Exchange server/user and then importing the Outlook Exchange account into Outlook during the setup process. This repopulated the Exchange inbox and resolved the issue.

Hope this helps.

Mark K
June 9, 2010 6:53 PM

On my outlook 2007, the e-mails disappear from the sent folder shortly after the mail is sent. I have looked through-out the outlook folders and cannot locate them!

September 23, 2010 7:36 PM

Hello. I am having a problem with Outlook Express automatically backing up the folders to my desktop. I delete them and then everytime I open OE they appear on my desktop again. I can't find where else I could post this problem on this site. Can you please tell me how to stop this from happening? Really hope you can help me. Thank you!

Kyle Callan
September 28, 2010 11:18 AM

I have lost half of my folders in my inbox express. Need to get them back on the page.

October 1, 2010 3:38 AM

please i am puzzled to why mails in my inbox always disappear and i find it all in ms outlook.How can i do to send them back in my box?

October 2, 2010 5:31 AM

i received a msg to setup new profile control pannel, mail - i did that , now i cant see anying in my INBOX, SENT etc Can anyone help please

Derek StClair-Stannard
November 9, 2010 12:48 PM

My email inbox, which used to list number of mesages sent, has disappeared, I can't send emails any longer and I can't receive them.

douglas amiadamhen
November 23, 2010 4:24 AM

how do get back an inbox from my outlook express mail which was lost during back up.and the system also was formated and re instlled to new one. when i reture back the email the indox was not there......

December 2, 2010 3:14 AM

my November mails disappeared from my inbox and I cannot see the mails that appear to be downloading accoriding to the pop up. Fortunately I can read the mail on the server but this is not convenient as my address book is not there and I have hundreds of folders realting to individuals, projects and interests.
Any suggestions? I have tried using the DBX search and all the mail seems to come up but I cannot do anything about getting them to go to my Inbox

February 1, 2011 12:19 PM

I lost my inbox mail from 6/19/10 to 1/17/11. I was checking my mail when a box came up that said "compacting inbox" with a "cancel" option. I hit cancel as I did nit want to wait and that is when I lost the in box e mails. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

I don't have a recommendation for recovery, unless you've been taking backups all along. My only real recommendation is not to use Outlook Express.

February 25, 2011 8:06 AM

I have 2 PCs viewing the same Exchange Mailbox. If PC1 has the mailbox open then the inbox messages are automatically deleted from PC2. If we close Outlook on PC1 the inbox messages stay on PC2. This happens even if the messages aren't read. Using Outlook 2010.

March 6, 2011 12:48 AM


Can you please tell me how to recover my Yahoo mails from Inbox?

I have just entered on my Yahoo mail account and I realized that all my Inbox mails are gone! I did not delete them, they simply dissapeared!

Please tell me what to do. I am disperate! Those mails were very important to me!

Thank you!

Unless they're in the "Deleted" folder, I know of no way to recover them. You'll need to contact Yahoo.

March 6, 2011 1:07 PM

I have the same problem as Monica at the same time. All my inbox thru Yahoo mail disappeared. I called att, my supporter, and they say I can't get them back. Did something happen that Monica and I had the same problem?

Unfortunately I don't know of any way to get them back. I've not heard of something happening.

March 12, 2011 2:29 AM

my mails on Yahoo keep getting deleted even before I've read them!

I have heard of that happening because of over-agressive filters on your PC's anti-malware programs. It's something to check.

March 18, 2011 8:08 AM

My issue is the same as the previous poster. Outlook express has been asking to "Compact" my messages and I finally said yes yesterday(3/17/11), when I started outlook express today, I noticed that I am missing every message from my inbox since 6/16/10.

Again any suggestions that would help would be greatly appreciated. Will probably migrate to another mail program due to this, but would really like to get some of the missing mail back.

This is one of the reasons I so strongly recommend against continuing to use Outlook Express. I don't know how to get your email back, unless you had been taking backups that you could revert to. It's too late, but: Should I allow Outlook Express to compact messages, and how do I get it to stop asking me if I don't?

March 21, 2011 3:58 PM

I don't know what to do about my missing emails that disappeared. My son told me to look in Outlook office and there I found them. Even while I was in Outlook, I was receiving emails from Yahoo as if I was transferring them. How do I stop this, I only want to use Yahoo!

It sounds like Outlook is configured to download your email, so never, ever run Outlook and you should be fine. (Or remove that account configuration from Outlook.)

March 21, 2011 9:10 PM

I have compacted my email in the past & lost months of important stuff so I know always to cancel when asked to compact but today outlook express was acting strange way slow & then I got multiples of the same email. And a message on some things that the message has not been downloaded from outlook express so I clicked out of it all together thinking it needed a time out & when I opened it again I lost over 1500 emails that were way important......all of my Leo newsletters & other way important things too.... alot of things I meant to get back to. My brother set up my email & I have Yahoo plus which I pay for yearly for it to come through Outlook Express...... from what I have read I guess Yahoo may be the problem too....I am ready to move....... Guess I will never get them back so I just needed to vent a bit with people that know this feeling of helplessness.

March 25, 2011 11:12 AM

I'm running into the missing email problem as well. But mine disappears in blocks. I'll open my email only to find 1 - 2 months missing. I get no results when I try to find the *.dbx files. I feel that this problem started with the auto compacting. Is there a way to stop the auto compacting completely?

May 15, 2011 7:35 PM

I wanted to answer a few of my emails and somehow every email that I received after April 12th has disappeared from my inbox. I did not, nor do I know if it is possible to delete anything enmass, and everything I have consciously deleted since April 24 is still in that delete box. I have checked every box and every sub-folder, So how can I lose so many emails into the ether? What could have happened? Can you guess? I even lost some emails with photos that I wanted to copy to the hard drive.

Mark J
May 15, 2011 10:42 PM

@Gail. You haven't mentioned how you access your emails. Without knowing which email program you use or if you access your emails through a web interface, it is impossible to assess what might be your problem. If you use an email program, a way to prevent losing emails would be to select the "Leave mail on server" option under account settings. In that case all of your emails remained backed up on your email provider's server.

June 6, 2011 8:06 PM

I need to recover my deleted emails from outlook express i found a program you had mentioned once i cannot remember it.. can you please help.. before its too late Thankyou

June 13, 2011 5:04 PM

i use microsoft outlook. i had a large number of emails stored in my archives in box. yesterday i inadvertantly moved the inbox in the archives to somewhere else. i did not realise that i had it pinned to mouse and my partner noticed that i had it moving upwards towards other folders. i have not lost the 'inbox' that was in my archives. there were about 9,000 emails in that folder and i do need them. it was my record of some data that i had sent last year. can you assist please?

July 22, 2011 8:50 AM

Does anyone have any recommendations?

- I can see all my folders.
- When I open some folders, the e-mails within them seem to have disappeared.
- The only way to access the e-mails is then to search for them by subject, sender, etc - so I know that they haven't truly disappeared.

My IT dept. has been working on this for weeks with no success - they've upgraded my memory, updated me to Outlook 2010 - but it's still happening, seemingly at random.

Any suggestions would be welcome!

August 18, 2011 11:13 PM

my oulook express's inbox can't show
What i do

Not nearly enough information to go on. Best I can offer is this: Why Outlook Express Must Die

October 27, 2011 11:31 AM

Hello Leo, Last week the past 4 months of emails disappeared from my Outlook Express Inbox [other email folders not affected]. The messages are still on my ISP's webmail page but won't download to my pc Inbox - although the message bottom right of the screen says they're downloading and the machine makes the "new mail" sound at frequent intervals. Have found some .dbx files on my hard drive but unable to import them to OE as the "import" function seems to be for when you want to transfer emails from a different email client. My ISP says the messages should download and a corrupt email is the problem but, if so, it must be one of the emails that's disappeared. I don't use McAfee. What if I download another copy of Outlook Express? Will I lose the emails that I still have? Oh the complexity is giving me a headache!

Mark J
October 27, 2011 2:28 PM

Instead of downloading another copy of OE, I suggest you
download Thunderbird. Microsoft no longer supports OE and
Thunderbird is a much safer alternative. If the emails are
still on the server, you should be able to download them
without any problem. Be sure you have the box checked to
"Leave Mail on Server" if you want them to stay on your email
provider's server. Or you can also use IMAP to accomplish

October 28, 2011 5:49 AM

Thank you very much for your reply Mark. Much appreciated. Best wishes, Erica

February 23, 2012 1:26 PM

If the emails in your inbox seem to have disappeared, before trying all kinds of complicated things, check the selection in your View Menu. It would have saved me hours, if I had gone there first.

March 5, 2012 11:56 PM

Hi Mark
Today I lost 5 months of emails in my inbox on outlook express. I am unsure but I'm thinking one of my sales staff clicked the compact files button when prompted as its been coming up lately. Looking at the past comments, your suggestion would be to do a search for .dbx files? And if they are there import them back in? Is this correct? Appreciate any help you can give me.

Ral Elikns
March 9, 2012 3:08 PM

lost all my e-mail and spam can you fix it for me? I don't know a lot of computer stuff, can't understandr computer stuff I'm a disabled veteran of war my memories comes and goed please help me

Carlon Litsinger
March 17, 2012 7:13 AM

Do not know where all my e-mail went. It has been gone for 3 days. Can you locate it for me??

Barbara McCary
June 19, 2012 10:14 PM

Lost Contact List;all files in Windows Live; previously used Outlook and transferred all into new Windows 7 software. Can you help me find them? What is Windows Messenger? Thought I found them in Messenger once before,how to transfer

July 5, 2012 12:36 PM

Hi there my lnbox messages has been disappeaered due to unforseen reason. can u recover it for me with great apprciations for the great help u r providing. thank you. yohannes.

I cannot. You'll need to contact your email service provider.
Eric Pearce
August 13, 2012 1:05 AM

Thursday evening when closing down I was offered the (6 monthly?) compact e-mail messages which I have used before. I run Outlook Express. I no longer use McAfee, just Mircosoft Security Essentials. All seemed to go fine, I carried on locking up my premises, came back and computer had shut down normally. In the morning I find I have lost all my current inbox messages but have those from 24/09/2011 and right back to 2008. Searched for *.dbx files but cannot locate any. Can you help please?
Kind regards. Eric

Mark J
August 13, 2012 1:12 PM

That's a common problem with OE losing emails when the files are compacted.

Unfortunately Ask-Leo! is no longer addressing many questions about Outlook Express. It's known to have many problems that will not be resolved because Microsoft has discontinued all support for it. We now recommend that you move to a different email program.

I'd strongly suggest you read this article for more information:
Why Outlook Express Must die

All the existing articles on Ask Leo! about Outlook Express can be found here:
Outlook Express

Rao Chatrathi
November 8, 2012 6:53 PM

Four days ago the past emails in my inbox disappeared. I requested for their restoration from Yahoo customer service. So far they have not been restored

RosLynn Schaefer
December 31, 2012 9:49 AM

I do not use OUTLOOK in any form. I have an IMac desktop. All my emails except 41 have disappeared... like 250 of them. Can you help at all?

Joan H. Hughes
January 9, 2013 4:05 AM

I would like to know where did outlook come from? It just came rushing like a whirlwind while I was on my computer. I don't like it; my email is always moving. How could I change back to the old system or whatever it is called.

Jeanette Mack
February 26, 2013 3:40 PM

All mail from my inbox disappeared about 2 hours ago. What happened? What can I do?


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