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Thunderbird just deleted all of my profiles. That's not good. There's nothing in the recycle bin. Is there any hope?

  • 4 replies
  • 1 has this problem
  • Last reply by wigglytoes1

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Literally the subject line says it all. I was trying to create a new profile (I already had about 7-8) It seemed to work but when I went to the new profile, it listed emails from a different profile. So I deleted that 'new' profile to start over. It froze up, and when it came back ALL of my profiles had been deleted. And there's nothing in ..../roaming/thunderbird/profiles. There's also nothing in the recycle bin.

This is very bad. Years and years of emails, contacts, etc.

The best part, of course, is that if you answer this post - it goes to an old email address of mine, which doesn't exist.

Fun times

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To understand what has occurred, I need to understand your set up and exact process you used.

you mention: 'when I went to the new profile, it listed emails from a different profile.'

Obviously you had created a new profile and pointed it to another profile - usually done when you have moved one profile to another location eg: a different drive. Hence why you could see the other profile's mail accounts.

Do you have any profile stored in a completely different location - not the default location eg: another drive? Is that the reason for needing new profiles?

You mention: So I deleted that 'new' profile to start over. It froze up, I presume 'It' was Thunderbird. It really sounds like you tried to delete the profile you still had open and running because it was pointing to another profile, but I need you to confirm.

How and where did you delete it ? With Thunderbird running :

  • Did you view the list of profiles in the 'about:profiles' tab and click on a 'Remove' button?
  • OR did you still have Thunderbird probably running on new profile (which was pointing to another profile - hence could see emails) and use Profile Manager to delete it?

It does not sound like you did the following otherwise 'IT' would not have 'froze'. But just confirm - Did you exit Thunderbird first and then:

  • access /roaming/thunderbird/'Profiles' folder and delete it directly from there?
  • open the Profile Manager window, select profile name and delete ?

As each profile can have as many mail accounts as desired, it is normal to only have one profile. I have two profiles because I'm running two different versions of Thunderbird and I want them on separate profiles.

Usually, the only reason for a new profile is when the original is corrupted OR you have moved the storage location of a profile and therefore created a new profile to point to the moved profile OR perhaps you are running a separate profile to use on a different version of Thunderbird OR perhaps you run a business and want to keep all the business mail accounts completely separate from all the personal mail accounts.

But you mention (I already had about 7-8) Why did you have so many profiles in the first place? What has been going wrong which has forced you to create so many new profiles?

I'm presuming you had more than one email address. Perhaps a lot of them. How many email address/mail accounts are we talking about in each profile? What type of mail accounts did you create? POP or IMAP ?

As emails are considered documents, it is normal to create a backup periodically and save it to an external drive for storage. Have you got any backups? Did you ever export your Address Books as LDIF or .CSV files as a separate backup?


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I added a new profile, because I have a new email account. IE suppose I signed up for gmail, then I would need a new profile to access emails from that account. This was a fresh new creation. No moving of files around or different drives, or anything like that first.

When I start TB, a 'choose User Profile' window pops up. (I have about 8 profiles already) To create the new profile, I clicked on 'Create Profile'. I basically just created the profile - in the default area - with a new profile name. I never got to plugging in the POP addresses or customizing the profile. I was about to do that by starting up that new profile. It should have been empty, but was populated by everything from a different, already existing, profile. I said 'that's odd, let's start over'. So I exited out of Thunderbird, and restarted to get to the 'Choose User Profile' window. That's where I hit the 'Delete Profile' button, while the new profile was highlighted, at which point TB hung. Eventually I killed Thunderbird via Task Master. At which time I found that ALL of my profiles had been deleted, and weren't even in the recycle bin.

I solved this problem by restoring the Profiles folder from a 2 day old Window Restore point. Right click on the Profiles folder and click on 'restore previous versions'. So I lost 2 days. It could have been worse.

The only thing that I can suggest is that I used to have a Profile that had the same name as the 'new' profile that I was creating. IE I used to have 'potomac'. It was deleted awhile back. This time I tried to create a profile named 'potomac'. That's the only suggestion that I have as to why TB got all confused.

It most certainly should not have deleted every profile that I had.


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re :IE suppose I signed up for gmail, then I would need a new profile to access emails from that account.

I do not know where you got that idea, but in a nutshell - No, you do not need a new profile for a new email address. You do not seem to understand the purpose of a profile. The 'profile' is like the super container for all your mail accounts(email addresses) and address books, so all mail accounts can access the same address books.

When you have a new email address, you just create a new 'mail account' in the profile you are currently using. 'File' > 'New' > 'Existing Mail account' This means you can see all your mail accounts/email addresses in the same Folder Pane. You do not create a new profile.

See images below of my Folder Pane. OK - I changed my folder icons, but the point is this, you can see I have four email addresses/mail accounts plus the 'Local Folders mail account. One image showing them expanded and another shows how I can collapse some accounts when working on my main account.

This means you do not need to keep jumping in and out of 'profiles' just to see emails from different email addresses. It means you can be viewing one particular account and still receive emails to another account, which you can easily select to read if urgent as it is in the same Folder Pane. So all accounts are checking for mail symultaneously at different time intervals. It also means you do not create a load of duplicate files required when creating 'profiles', so wasting a load of space on computer. It means all email address can access and use the same address books and calendar. It is more efficient. That's why people use email clients, they do not want to keep logging on to separate webspaces, even if they are in different tabs in a browser. The idea is to have all in one view and auto updating. Basically, one profile contains all email addresses as separate mail accounts.

Modified by Toad-Hall


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Actually I already have three email accounts under one profile, two under another, and the rest are just individual email accounts. It's the way that I like to run it. One profile is for one business, and profile is personal, another is for a different business. It's just the way that I like to run it, and I'll be keeping it this way. Some profile(s) I check everyday, some are junk collectors and I rarely visit them. No sense in having them interact with real accounts.


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