How To Properly Backup and Maintain Thunderbird Email

Thunderbird Email client has a very user friendly interface. It is very light and is supported by Mozilla. There are a few important steps to ensure that email is backed up properly in the event of a disaster. To recover a Thunderbird Email Profile with all emails, account settings and contacts intact there are a few important steps.

The worst case scenario for recovering email is losing all email messages and contacts. The next best case scenario above this is losing emails since the last backup. We have detailed the steps below to ensure all email messages can be recovered. Without the need to redo account settings and to ensure all your contacts are back in place.

Thunderbird does not have any method to automatically recover 1 email message without using an import feature. You cannot just copy messages into folders and expect they will appear in the folders inside the email client. They must be imported, but this can be tricky as the only resident import options in Thunderbird are to bring messages across from Outlook and Outlook Express.

Email messages in Thunderbird are all stored in files, one for each folder. Within that file that identifies each folder and sub-folder are all the messages contained together. To restore a message, you must restore that entire folder, but it must be placed in a separate restore location initially and then imported using the Xpi extension below.

The following configuration of Thunderbird will ensure that you will always have the most recent copy of email messages from within Thunderbird and the ability to restore the entire account settings and email anytime.

By using just the Mozbackup software to backup Thunderbird, you will not have an up to date copy of your latest email messages. The backup will only be as good as the last time your Mozbackup backup was completed. We recommend using Mozbackup monthly or bi-monthly to backup the Thunderbird profile with Account Settings only option. This will export your email account settings and contacts database. It will be placed in 1 file in the location specified. We recommend placing this file monthly into a folder that is being backed up automatically. TAPNET online backup will keep up to 30 revisions of this file.

If you were to use Mozbackup to backup all options including email, this file would eventually become so large it would be difficult to ensure a timely backup and restore. For larger mailboxes the Mozbackup process will create 1 very large file in the backup location and does not allow the ability to restore 1 message. It is all or none.

However, this recommended approach will guarantee that you will be able to restore as little as 1 message or the entire mailbox.

Initial download + setup for Thunderbird, Mozbackup + ImportExportExtension

1. Thunderbird Download (www.mozilla.org/thunderbird)
Download, install and setup like you would normally do with any email client.
All initial settings is mostly for desired configuration.

2. Download Mozbackup (www.mozbackup.org/)
Download and install Mozbackup.

3. Download and Install ImportExportExtension (http://nic-nac-project.de/~kaosmos/mboximport-en.html)
Open Thunderbird
Click on Tools + Addons
In the Get Addons, to the LEFT of the Search field at the top right of the screen there is an Options icon, click on it
Select Install From File
Locate the ImportExportExtension file downloaded nic-nac-project.de

To backup Thunderbird there’s a recommended 2 step approach:

1. Backup the Email using TAPNET Online Backup (www.tapnet.biz)
To have the most recent version of emails, ensure that the folder where the Thunderbird email is located is checked in the Manage Backup Settings tab of the online backup software client.
To locate the Email Store folder:
1. Open Thunderbird
2. Click on Tools and then Account Settings
3. In the left click on Server Settings
4. Near the bottom is the Message Storage area
5. Note down the full path to the email profile
6. Follow this path on the online backup software, in Manage Backups, Settings tab

2. Backup the profile using Mozbackup. By selecting Backup a Profile, then Thunderbird and Account Settings only will ensure you have a working shell of Thunderbird in a disaster recovery situation.

3. Periodically run mozbackup to have a current version of account settings and address book.
Sometimes the annoying part of restoring an email client is retrieving all the settings and contacts.

To perform a full restore of Thunderbird account + email:

1. Restore the profile using mozbackup
2. Restore the email using TAPNET Restore Client.
Place all the email restored into a temporary location on your hard drive.
3. Go into Thunderbird and right Click on the restored account and click New Folder.
4. Give the new folder a unique name and click on it to select it.
All email will be restored into this folder and will then need to be dragged to its root location.
The reason for this step is because the import export tool will restore all messages and subfolders together and this process will ensure they are not scattered about.

5. Go to Tools, ImportExport and select Import Mbox file
6. Select the last option importing a folder and all its subfolders
7. All email will now be imported into the folder created above.
8. Drag the email and folders back to their original location.

We hope these detailed instructions will assist in ensuring that Thunderbird Email Profiles are safely backed up in the event of a disaster. TAPNET has performed several of these setups and configurations as well as restorations. If you ever have any questions do not hesitate to contact TAPNET for support. Online Backup Customers receive free support to ensure a proper backup is setup and running.