Just compacted Outlook Express and lost some messages on my Inbox, what to do!

(This information is for Windows XP users still using Outlook Express 6. Please note that your email provider most probably has all your messages stored on POP, which you’ll see when you upgrade. )

It could happen suddenly, the reminder to compact your messages appearing just as you’ve meant to click somewhere else. So you curse your bad luck when you click it unintentionally, but you don’t dare interrupt it while it compacts, because they tell you not to, so there won’t be any loss of data. But your computer decides to stall at some point or crash and when you finally get back to Outlook Express, you see that most or all of your inbox messages have just disappeared. NOOOOOOOOOO !


dreamstime_xs_4634001-300x206 Just compacted Outlook Express and lost some messages on my Inbox, what to do!

If you carefully follow these instructions, you may be able to recover them.

  1. First CLOSE Outlook Express.
  2. Hopefully you haven’t emptied your recycle bin yet. DON’T EMPTY IT.
  3. Click to open your Recycle Bin and do check it. Do you see any files that end in .bak, like drafts.bak, sent.bak, and especially inbox.bak. If you do, it’s recoverable. But DON’T right-click and choose restore YET. (If you don’t see the files there, they may be in another folder, which you’ll get to later. At any case, they’ll have the .bak extension.)
  4. If you’re not already viewing details, choose VIEW from the top menu, and click on DETAILS. This is so you can see the original file location.
  5. The original file location could look something like this:
    • C:\Documents and Settings\Default\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\some string\inbox.bak
    • (Default could be some other name, some string is the string that you were given, which is different for different users.)
  6. You’re going to have to find that original folder, but you might have to reveal hidden files and folders to do so. Local Settings are usually hidden.
    • Click START, Choose CONTROL PANEL, and Click FOLDER OPTIONS (for Windows 7, you’ll have to click on APPEARANCE AND PERSONALIZATION link first before you can click on FOLDER OPTIONS.) Then click VIEW and look in the ADVANCED SETTINGS Window for SHOW HIDDEN FILES AND FOLDERS. Click that radio button if it isn’t already chosen, then click the OK button.
  7. Now you’re ready. Find that folder, and look for an inbox.dbx. That is your current INBOX.
  8. Right-click inbox.dbx and rename it inbox2.dbx, just in case
  9. Now you can go back to your Recycle Bin, right click inbox.bak, and choose RESTORE.
  10. That file inbox.bak should now be in the folder you just found.
  11. Right click inbox.bak and rename it inbox.dbx
  12. Now open Outlook Express and your inbox messages should be restored.

OR if that doesn’t work ..

  • From the Outlook Express Top Menu, click File > Import > Messages > Choose the email program you use
  • If it was Outlook Express 6, then choose >Import Mail from an OE6 Store Directory
  • > Click OK, and browse for that folder you just found
  • > Click and choose inbox.dbx or whichever file you want to restore
  • and voila, those messages should be restored.

Hope this helps.

Click here for more information on compacting messages.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Dheeraj Sharma February 3, 2015 at 2:03 pm

thank you so much its work great


??? May 19, 2015 at 10:35 pm

I am in fact thankful to the owner of this web site who has shared this great piece of
writing at here.


Mudit June 25, 2015 at 10:43 am

thank you so much….you are a big savior!!


Julio Gonzaga January 3, 2016 at 6:18 pm

the website i entered as mine is not actually mine, but i don’t know if i can insert links here. it points to a service that repairs and recovers dbx files for free. you may also download the tool (if you know how to handle command line things), it’s free also.


lucarinf January 4, 2016 at 1:58 am

Thanks for sharing Julio. Here it is:


daniel February 15, 2016 at 7:18 am

Thank you so much it helps a lot!!!


Stephen Brown May 18, 2016 at 7:43 pm

Another thing you MIGHT need to do: Sometimes the file extensions are not showing. This is what happened to me. In the Recylce Bin, my Inbox.bak was only named “Inbox”. What i could not see is that the “.bak” extension was hidden. When I tried to rename it to “Inbox.dbx” I was really naming it, “Inbox.dbx.bak” since that pesky .bak extension was hidden. To “unhide” it, (while in Windows Explorer), click on TOOLS, then FOLDER OPTIONS, then the VIEW tab, then find the “Hide extensions for known file types” box and un-check it. Then click “APPLY” at the bottom. By the way, this also works in Recycle Bin, just click on TOOLS in the top toolbar.
Hope this helps someone!
I also found and bought DBXpress software – worth every penny for OE crashes and recoveries.
The website I listed is just my company website.


James Smith May 24, 2017 at 5:30 am

You can follow this tutorial as well the take the backup of your Outlook Express Emails. And once you get your mails backup you can save them into another file format for further corruption or any other damage. You can try Outlook Express to Outlook Converter for this process. This will help you to save your Outlook Express emails within few steps.

For more info, you can check the link


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