How To Restore A Thunderbird Profile On A New Computer, After Crash

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 8, 2011
Updated • Jan 9, 2015
Email, Thunderbird

When you purchase a new computer you often want to move at least some data from the old computer to the new. At the very top of the lists are usually email accounts if a desktop email client like Thunderbird or Outlook is used. The same may be necessary after a hard drive crash for instance.

But how do you get your Thunderbird emails to the new computer? It is actually very easy to do providing that the old data is still available and readable.

First thing you need to do is to locate the Thunderbird profile directory on the old hard drive or computer. The profile stores all account information including emails in the inbox, send out, email account information and attachments.

Tip: the easiest way to locate the profile folder is to open Thunderbird, select Help > Troubleshooting Information, and there the show folder button which opens it on the local computer.

Check the Mozilla Zine article for the paths. Make sure the data is available on the new computer, either by connecting the hard drive to the computer, copying the data to CD, DVD or removable storage devices or via network connections.

Install Mozilla Thunderbird on the new computer but do not run it after installation if possible. The first run creates a profile on the new computer. Now copy the full profile directory from the old hard drive to the new computer or new hard drive. Make sure that you copy it using the right path information taken from the Mozilla Zine article.

If you already run Thunderbird you have a profile already. Do not worry, it is not that bad. You can simply copy the data from the old Thunderbird profile folder into the new profile. Please note that this will remove all information stored in the new profile which means that if you have setup email accounts and received emails, well, they are gone after that process.

If you do not want that you can copy the data to a new profile instead. It is not the best solution though as you can only launch one profile which means you would need to switch between profiles or find a way to merge them.

Another option that you have for the backup and restoration is to use a third-party program like Mozbackup. The free program can backup all Thunderbird data and restore it at a later point in time on a new computer.

Article Name
How To Restore A Thunderbird Profile On A New Computer, After Crash
How to restore Thunderbird account data on a new computer or after a crash on the old PC.

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  1. Anonymous said on December 13, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    Unfortunately the Gurus don’t seem to cover my problem of the old netbook declaring that there is no Operating System (OS was Windows 7 Starter) The replacement HP Mini 210 is very similar to the old one but I cannot remember the password to access my Talk-Talk (Tiscali) account which was set up several years ago. The “new” HP mini had to be reset to “Out Of The Box Condition” so it has none of my Thunderbird history in it whatsoever and as a result it cannot find any log-ins. Is there another way?

  2. Sofia Henriques said on January 13, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Just one thing missing: you also need to copy the”profiles.ini” file. It´s located in the same place as the profiles folder.

    Have fun! ;-)

  3. Padraic McGrath said on February 23, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Your article is titled “How To Restore A Thunderbird Profile” but it doesn’t actually explain how, a little misleading would you not agree? What you say about copying the old data from the old profile into the new profile does not work. The only good thing in your article is the link to MozillaZine with the real information.

  4. Doc said on January 10, 2011 at 7:02 am

    …or just use Thunderbird Portable, which keeps all its data & settings in one folder, so it will survive any number of OS crashes/upgrades (as long as it’s not on your system drive, or survives the crash…regular backups are still essential).

  5. lawson said on January 9, 2011 at 3:25 am

    I have also used mozbackup for years. Only 2 or 3 clicks and everything is restored. Very easy.

  6. tom terrific said on January 9, 2011 at 12:30 am

    have been using mozbackup to restore botth thunderbird and firefox settings for many years and so far hasn’t let me down and is also simple to use.

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