Outlook Express email messages missing after connecting to SBS 2003 network

I’ve installed a ton of Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 networks, and today was a first – the first time I ever lost someone’s email during the migration.

The user had been using Outlook Express (OE) as her email client from a Windows XP SP2 machine. We backed up her local Windows profile, joined her workstation into the domain using http://server/connectcomputer, and migrated her local profile to map to her SBS profile.

But when we fired up her Outlook to import her old OE messages, the OE message files were nowhere to be found. I couldn’t even find them within OE in the old local profile anymore! The user was not happy – she gave me the evil eye as she left me sitting at her desk at 5pm, and I was pretty sure she was convinced I had lost all of her precious email.

Outlook Express doesn’t use a single .pst file to save email like Outlook does. Instead, a number of .dbx files are used as message stores. I figured I could just search the hard drive for *.dbx per KB 313055 and import the old OE .dbx files into Outlook in her current profile – but that wasn’t the case.

I came up with absolutely no hits when I searched the hard drive for *.dbx. I checked the folder options to ensure show hidden file and folders and were enabled in Windows Explorer, and hide extensions for known file types and hide protected OS system files were disabled.

I went back and re-read the KB again, and found I had to select advanced search options and select search hidden files and folders. This time I found the .dbx files. They were located in:

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

Now that I knew where the messages were stored, I figured I could just import them into Outlook, but that wasn’t the case. I couldn’t figure out how to get the .dbx files directly into Outlook 2003, but I knew that if I imported them into Outlook Express 6 first, I could easily export them to Outlook 2003.

With my new plan of attack, I launched OE in the new domain profile. I selected File – Import – Messages – Microsoft Outlook Express 6 – Import Mail from a OE6 store directory and browsed to the .dbx location shown above, selected all folders, then finished the import process. All my messages imported into Outlook Express 6 beautifully.

Once my messages were seen by Outlook Express in the user’s new domain profile, I selected File – Export – Messages. I was prompted for the name of the Outlook profile I wanted to export to, and the messages started flowing into Outlook 2003.

Life was good again, and I really hadn’t lost her email. I just wonder why I couldn’t see the mail from OE in her original local profile? What exactly happens to OE messages when you use the http://server/connectcomputer method of joining workstations to the domain? If anyone knows, I’d love to hear about it at thebackroomtech at gmail dot com.

2 Responses to “Outlook Express email messages missing after connecting to SBS 2003 network”

  1. Charlie Says:

    I just updated office 2003 to office 2007.

    Opend outlook express which is all shiney and new… but where are all of my old emails and clandar info? I presumed the system would auto impot it as part of the update.

    Can i retreve my old emails?


  2. Alex Says:

    I think your mails is infecting at viruses,if so then advise will do better your defend on PC or if you have restore your data try-reading dbx files,it program can keeps all messages, contacts and attachments in the same file in spite of the fact, that it may be dangerous,safe to open files of dbx format, even when your mailbox is infected of seriously damaged as a result of power failure,extracts all messages as separate files in eml format, if you’d like to modify the path to output folder, that is set by default, it can be done with Choose Save Folder function,also can restore damaged files with dbx extension.

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