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Moving Outlook Express DBX Files
to Another WinXP Computer

(Windows 7 Can Not Open DBX Files)

I recently referred to Outlook Express DBX files and their ability to be moved from one computer to another. However, a number of readers have asked for specific details.

Unlike Web-based email, such as Microsoft's Hotmail and Google's Gmail, whose messages are maintained somewhere in cyberspace, Outlook Express messages are stored on a user's own hard drive. In addition to being listed inside the various OE folders, such as Inbox, Outbox, and Sent Items, all messages in a given folder are compressed into a single file bearing the folder's name, along with an extension of .dbx.

Thus, there is an encrypted file somewhere on your computer named Inbox.dbx that is comprised of the contents of your Outlook Express Inbox.

So where does one find Inbox.dbx, Outbox.dbx, Sent Items.dbx, and the others? They are in a regular yellow Windows folder named "Outlook Express." However, this folder is nested deep within several other folders, most of which have cryptic names. I have no idea why Microsoft made this folder so hard to find and its DBX contents so difficult to understand.

Nonetheless, they can be copied from their location on one computer into the Outlook Express program on another, by following these steps:

On the older computer go to Start>Search>All Files & Folders (or Start>Find>Files & Folders on Win98 computers) and type outlook express into the Name field. Your PC may contain more than one folder with this name, so double-click each that appears to see what's in it. When you've found the right folder, it can be copied onto another disk or onto a flash drive. The easiest method is to drag the yellow folder onto a USB flash drive that would show up in your My Computer folder with a designation such as Drive E or, perhaps, Drive F.

Next insert the flash drive into a USB port on your new computer and drag the Outlook Express folder onto its Desktop. Double-click the folder so that all its DBX files are displayed.

Now repeat the Search steps used on the old computer to find the corresponding Outlook Express folder on the new one. When it appears in the Found area, right-click it and choose Send To>Desktop (Create Shortcut).

When the Shortcut appears on your Desktop you can move all the DBX files from the moved Outlook Express folder into the new one, by dragging them into this Shortcut. You will be warned that Inbox.dbx already exists in the folder and be asked if you want to overwrite it.

If you have not yet begun to use OE on the new computer, click Yes. If you have, however, you will want to rename the old DBX files to something like, say, Inbox-Old.dbx and Outbox-Old.dbx before dragging them into the new folder.

When you have completed all these steps, you will have two Inboxes displayed in Outlook Express on the new computer: Inbox and Inbox-old.

If anything goes wrong, you can go back to the old PC and start over. None of the above steps will delete anything you want saved.

The actual path to the DBX folders on either computer can be found from within Outlook Express by clicking Tools>Options>Maintenance>Store Folder.

More answers to email questions can be found HERE.


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