I keep losing mail from my inbox in Outlook Express, and this is happening on more than one computer. I'm not sure, but it could be related to Windows Update.

I can not remember the exact date, but recently I allowed Windows Update to run on two different computers.

September 15th, Windows 2003 Server, Standard Edition, SP2:
all mail from the inbox before September 15th disappeared.

September 20th, today, Windows XP Pro, SP3:
all mail from the inbox before September 20th disappeared.

On both machines, no items were found "Deleted" folder, and searching all folders, of which their are many, turned up none of the missing e-mails.

My anti-virus is always up to date so it's unlikely that a virus is involved.

Is anyone else out there losing e-mails from their "Outlook Express" inbox?

  • 3
    There's no OE tag because System Admins wouldn't use it. Why not just restore from backup; if it was important you would have taken a backup of it. Otherwise it sounds like it's gone. – Chris S Sep 20 '10 at 23:22

Did you notice any other peculiarities? Something strange with/missing from your profile? Also, did you double-check that OE doesn't delete your mails from the server after getting it via POP3? (This wouldn't yet explain mails gone missing alone, but we have to establish a base of trusted knowledge here).

I highly doubt WU having anything to do with it.


A possible reason might be that your inbox.dbx (the file that contains all the emails) got too big; Outlook Express can only handle this file being up to 2GB. If it gets bigger, it will start over with a new file and all old emails will be lost. It happened to my mother’s account a few days ago—also see this Super User question.

Look in your OE message store and check if you have any .dbx files which might contain your old email. If you find an old .dbx file (i.e., from a backup), you can restore the emails, otherwise I think they are gone for good, as I assume you have a POP account.

(I’m currently using UnDBX in recovery mode to extract the emails from a .dbx file bigger than 2GB, hope all goes well…)

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