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We cancelled an account with a server provider and of course lost some e-mail addresses. For example webmaster@oldplace.com It was configured in TB as a POP account, and outgoing as SMTP.

The Thunderbird setup is running 20+ accounts, so any solution needs to be account specific and needs to include a reasonable method on how to still access all e-mails. Presently running Thunderbird 68.8.0 on Win 10 Pro 64bit with all updates.

Now I am afraid that if I just select the corresponding account in Thunderbird and go "Account Actions" > "Remove Account" it might delete all the e-mails which came through this account over the years. I need to keep those for several years for legal reasons. Since this is part of my production machine, I cannot just do some tests through guesswork.

The setup is such that under "Copies & Folders" the "sent" and "archives" and "drafts" and "templates" are each stored under their respective folder under webmaster@oldplace.com.

I have searched through Mozilla Thunderbird online help on how to remove an account while keeping mails and did not find any entry.

I am willing to do all the needed work, even manual clicking-party, like archiving all mails, if I find a way to keep them separate from all other accounts and keep their structure intact. They must not be mixed or stored under another account.

I tried as a hack to just empty the box for "Server Name" but Thunderbird does not accept an empty box there. So de-activating the account would be just as well as deleting it, if possible.

Since I have 20+ accounts, I often use the feature "get all new messages" and this old account keeps (of course) giving me error messages that are annyoing and pointless.

I could use a dummy or testing domain to fill the Server Name box, but would need one that is specifically provided for that purpose to not receive more error messages and to not anger any other domain holder. I vaguely remember that there used to be private top level domains (for example .zz) for testing or internal purposes (like we all use internal private IP numbers) but cannot find documentation for this, even after plenty searching today.

(I tried to keep it simple but have in fact several such accounts that need this treatment: de-activate account but still keep the mails together respectively. So any input muchly appreciated, thank you.)

  • Whatever you do - make a backup of your profiles folder first by following the first six steps of this answer: superuser.com/questions/1550634/… – dirdi May 27 at 9:48
  • Thank you @dirdi I will indeed make an extra backup before I apply a solution. You have confirmed my hunch that this carries a certain risk. I believe this is a rather "normal" need, it must be not uncommon that people are moving away from an e-mail provider and still want to keep and access their mails. So the lack of documentation by the TB team has surprised me. Or I am too dense to find it... – Martin Zaske May 27 at 10:06
  • Is this an IMAP or POP3 account? – user1686 May 27 at 10:24
  • @user1686 Thank you, I edited my question: it was set up as a POP account. – Martin Zaske May 27 at 11:25
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Each Thunderbird profile includes a special account Local Folders that is not associated with any server. You could create a folder (e.g. webmaster@oldplace.com) in this account and move all mails and folders from the abandoned account into this folder.

If Thunderbird does not let you move the items over, make sure you are in offline mode. You can enter offline mode by clicking on the little icon in the bottom left corner of Thunderbird's main window:

Offline Mode

After you moved over all mails and folders to the Local Folders account, you can delete the abandoned account.

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  • Thank you @dirdi I will test this as soon as homeoffice crazyness gives me a minute. Then I get back to you. – Martin Zaske May 28 at 10:40
  • @MartinZaske have you tried it? How did it went? – dirdi Jun 7 at 16:29
  • No, sorry. When I wrote the question I had a brief window. Now swamped again with timed work. So for punishment I have the cluttered mail-client until I make time. As promissed I will advise when I have results. @dirdi – Martin Zaske Jun 9 at 10:14

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