How to recover a hard deleted store folder in Microsoft Outlook Express 6

It happened for several times that I accidentally hard deleted a store folder in Microsoft Outlook Express 6 when trying to delete an email in that folder (both the folder and the e-mail looked like being selected, but it seems that the focus was on the folder and not the e-mail as I expected).

Seems that when we access (select) for the first time a store folder, say “MyFolder”, we created in Outlook Express, a .dbx file is automatically created in the Outlook Express Mail directory “C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{<identity-code>}\Microsoft\Outlook Express”.
If it doesn’t already exist a file named MyFolder.dbx in the OE Mail directory, such a file is created and a refernce from the store folder “MyFolder” to this .dbx file is created in the Folder.dbx file in the OE Mail directory.
If there already is a .dbx file in The OE Mail directory with the same name as the folder we created (MyFolder.dbx), then, when we access the folder “MyFolder”, it will be created a .dbx file named MyFolder(1).dbx, if does not already exist a file named MyFolder(1).dbx in the OE Mail directory, otherwise a file named MyFolder(2).dbx will be created etc. Also a reference from “MyFolder” to the newly created .dbx file is created in the Folders.dbx file.

To see which .dbx file is associated with a certain store folder in Outlook Express, right click on that folder and select Properties; under the General tab you’ll find the full path to the .dbx file the folder is stored in.

When we delete a store folder in Outlook Express, only the reference to the .dbx file is deleted, the .dbx file remaining orphan. So, if we want to recover the deleted folder, a new folder and a reference between it and the orphaned .dbx file should be created. This is how you do that:

1. Move, not copy, the orphaned .dbx file from OE Mail directory to another location.
Do not just copy the file elsewhere because if there already is a .dbx file with the same name as the folder you create, say MyFolder.dbx, then when you select the newly created folder it will be created a .dbx file named like MyFolder(1).dbx as explained before.

2. In Outlook Express, create a folder with exactlty the same name (case sensitive) as the orphaned .dbx file, select the newly created folder so that a new .dbx file is automatically created (this should have the same name as the orphaned .dbx file), close OE.

3. Overwrite the new (empty) .dbx file in your OE Mail directory with the orphaned file and open OE.

4. If you had any mail message rules involving the deleted folder, repair them, because OE deletes the references to the folder from the message rules once you delete a folder, but it does not remake them once you remake the folder (go to Tools -> Messages rules -> Mail).

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