Solve My Invisible Message Mystery. Thousands Vanished, Yet Still There!

  woodface7 23:39 08 Feb 2012

Thousands of e-mails have become invisible in my Outlook Express inbox!

I had three thousand in my Inbox, plus 2500 in 'Deleted'.

Now the Inbox has 200 left. Every message from the last two months is (apparently) gone. And most before that vanished. All the unwanted e-mails in 'Deleted' are intact.

AND YET! Comparing 'Properties' of folders shows the 'Inbox' contains 167mb against 125mb for 'Deleted'. This suggests the missing messages are there, but can't be seen somehow. Could they be invisible cos they're corrupt? If so, are they recoverable?

Searching the whole hard drive for .dbx files (as some sites advise to recover lost e-mails), you only see the same folders and contents you do in OE (plus very small amounts in config, filecache, host, sigstore, offline, and pop3uidl)

My ageing laptop sometimes slows up to near freezing, not responding, and forcing me into a hard shutdown. During which it can sometimes decide to unrecoverably empty any Wordpad (or similar) file I had open - despite it having being saved.

This time, Outlook Express stopped responding, and appeared to agree to shut down (it had been displaying the Inbox) before a reboot.

On start-up, before seeing the OE disaster, I used CCleaner to wipe cookies etc, but from Windows only purged temporary files, MS Management Console and the Recycle bin.

I use OE6, Windows xp Pro SP3. Regarding the slow-up, my hard drive is 70% empty, my RAM tested fine, and my Start-up programs are minimal. I plan to re-install Windows with fewer programs, as I suspect it's a bit damaged.

  Sea Urchin 00:28 09 Feb 2012

The reason they've disappeared is that you have far too many emails in your Inbox and Deleted folder. If you want to keep all the messages in the Inbox then create archiving folders (as sub folders of Local Folders) and transfer them to there. Also delete all messages from your Deleted folder. If you do this then the missing messages should re-appear.

  Sea Urchin 00:29 09 Feb 2012

Once you done this then compact all folders.

  lotvic 00:48 09 Feb 2012

You appear to have overloaded Outlook Express with the thousands of emails you had in there.

maximum file size of the .dbx files in OE


In Windows XP, the Outlook Express user files, including *.wab and *.dbx files, are by default marked as hidden. To view these files in Explorer, you must enable 'Show Hidden Files and Folders' under Start | Control Panel | Folder Options | View.

All of your OE mail folders and messages, local IMAP and Hotmail folders and messages, and all of your subscribed newsgroups and messages are stored in one folder called the store root, or store root folder, or store folder, and in at least one place in OE, the Store root directory. It's default location is

C:\Windows\Application Data\Outlook Express{GUID} or C:\Documents and Settings\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities{GUID}\Microsoft\Outlook Express

where {GUID} is the Global Unique IDentifier (technical jargon for a unique long number) used to specify an Identity. Depending on your operating system and upgrade history, your store folder might be located elsewhere. To determine the location of your store, click Tools| Options| Maintenance| Store folder.

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