Backing up and Restoring Thunderbird on Linux – Easy-like

So I was going to write something ‘profound’ for this post. Some sort of rumination on something mildly design-like, but I got caught up in updating my netbook’s OS. I just finished up and things are pretty good. I went from running Xubuntu 9.04 to Peppermint OS, which is a very nice netbook implementation of Mint, which is a very nice implementation of Ubuntu Linux and I believe it’s based on 10.04 LTS….nice.  I’d give you a review, but I only have an hour or so on it and reviews just after install aren’t really worth much anyhow. Perhaps in a week or so.

Anyways, my post here is going to be about how to migrate your Mozilla Thunderbird Email Client profile from one Thunderbird to another Thunderbird version. Reading up on this, it seems like the process is pretty easy, finding out HOW to do it is the hardest part. NO MORE!! I will show you how to do it on a Debian-based Linux machine (but I am reasonably sure it will work on other Linux flavors). I run Linux 90% of the time at home so other OS’s I can’t help you with, sorry.

Here we go:

1. Open up a window showing your /home directory.

2. Inside that directory is the folder named after your computer. Mine is called ‘maxwell’ – this is also the name that you log in on when you start things up. Open that directory.

Home directory screen shot

3. Next, you need to show all of the hidden files by going to View/Show Hidden. Now, you’ll see a lot of folders with names starting with a period. we are looking for *either* “.mozilla-thunderbird” or “.thunderbird” These files contain all of your mail goodness and are the things you need to save when you move or back stuff up, so save them somewhere safe.

Why *either*? On my older machine, everything was held in the ‘.mozilla-thunderbird’ folder and there wasn’t just a regular ‘.thunderbird’ folder. In most of the directions you find, you’re supposed to ferret out a ‘.thunderbird’ folder. Here, on the new one there is both folders, but upon inspection, the ‘.mozilla-thunderbird’ one is just a pointer to the ‘.thunderbird’ one…whatever. If you have both (or either) the one that has the most stuff in it is your mark. Don’t worry, one will be HUGE compared to the other.

4. Fire up the new Thunderbird client. Once it gets settled, you can shut it off. Don’t worry about filling anything out, just cancel out and close the program. The main reason to do this is when the new Thunderbird email client starts for the first time, it makes a new ‘.thunderbird’ folder, which we need.

What is inside the .thunderbird folder

5. Find the new ‘.thunderbird’ folder and open it. There should be at least two things in there: a ‘profiles.ini’ file and a folder with some bizarre number/letter name ending in a ‘.default’.

What it looks like after you move stuff

6. Open your old backed up file and find the ‘profiles.ini’ file and the bizarre number/letter ending in ‘.default’ folder and copy it into the newly made folder, making sure to overwrite the ‘profile.ini’ file with your backed up one.

7. Restart Mozilla Thunderbird.

8.  It will take a while but your stuff will start to trickle in. Between versions, Mozilla seems to change layouts so you might need to hunt around a bit for stuff but your old mail should all be there!

9. Miller Time!

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