Email 101

Hi gurus,

Note: I’m fairly fluent in pc, but I flunked (actually never took) Email 101. When it works, it’s simple and who cares? Now I do!

I recently allowed Win 10 to update prior to shutting down my pc, forgetting that I had previously also downloaded a Thunderbird update (but not run the .exe file. maybe it ran by itself on shutdown?) To allow both at the same time? I know, dumb, dumber and dumbest.

When I returned from a trip, the pc was restarted, everything was fine except for my email and contact files and data.

Thunderbird: had no contacts, no emails, no files and no history, including all saved email conversations. Profiles appear to be empty and files at: “C: Windows/Users/MyName/AppData/Local/Thunderbird/Profiles” only have non-related files. Contacts now include the few addresses I have mailed to since restarting the pc, nothing else.

Outlook: (seldom used) same results as T-bird.

Gmail: Current emails shown for 1 gmail account only (I have 2, plus formerly, gmail linked to several other non-GOOGL accounts too) no former or saved emails, files, folders or accounts, although the top-tier folder headings for saved files are visible (& empty.) Sub-folders are gone. Contacts are visible and appear to be accurate. I can show Google Contacts, but having searched for information on where Google contacts are located, I have found nothing. Perhaps they are in the Google Cloud. Perhaps they all came from my phone (Google Pixel6Pro?)

IONOS: Results unknown. I have several binding contracts and legal documents archived there, and am so far unwilling to risk having them go <poof!> like they have in the other programs .

Thunderbird is my most-used email app, but I also use GMail and IONOS, where I have other email accounts. All but Google show no contacts, no historic files of any kind.

Questions in order of Priority (Sorry there are so many, but I’m in real trouble here. :))

  1. Does the above info indicate to a pro, what might have happened to my emails and contacts, or if still there, where they are located?
  2. Do you know what folder/file combo any of these programs link to read contacts? Do they use a common file, or synch to/from separate files for each program? Web searches indicate many conflicting answers here for every program, except Google, who apparently won’t tell anyone where they store contacts; perhaps they change constantly? Perhaps no one knows? :slight_smile:
  3. My pc is always backed up but I haven’t been able to determine which folders or files to restore, and what programs use what file for contacts and email bodies. Advice?
  4. In the future, I would like to copy, clone and backup my email files and contacts separately on a separate disk. What files are they?
  5. How can affect so many programs in so many ways?

Bonus Questions: Why is email so inaccessible and obscure? Why are email file names created from strange symbols an meaningless characters? Is everything email-related encrypted? If so, why? Why not just have a text - or even encrypted if necessary - file called “Contacts” that any program can use, if that is your preference? I mean, my email is important, but my data is not labeled “Top Secret” by anyone, and neither am I under any indictments. :slight_smile:

Any help you can offer will be greatly appreciated. And if you think I’m being lazy, or looking for a shortcut, please reconsider. I’m finding that very few people know much about email files, where they’re located, or how they work or synch. That’s not any excuse for being so uninformed about email. I promise you I will become better informed. But first, I need to solve this little jam I created with help from my friends at Microsoft and Mozilla.

I will follow up on any recommendation of email primers - book, video, podcast, whatever. (Please save my a$$ first.) :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Thanks in advance!


I’m not a Windows/Thunderbird expert by any means, but you mentioned:

- C: Windows/Users/MyName/AppData/Local/Thunderbird/Profiles”

On my computer, the Thunderbird Profiles are at

- C: Windows/Users/MyName/AppData/Roaming/Thunderbird/Profiles”

(i.e., a folder called Roaming, not Local).

You should be able to find/access it by typing %appdata% in the Windows search bar. I believe it’s normally a hidden folder, however, so make sure that you have your File Explorer settings set to show hidden files and folders and drives.

Not sure if that’s any help, though.

Well I am not a guru nor is this suggestion specifically related to email but you might try to restore your settings back to where they were before the updates were loaded (using System Restore). This ‘assumes’ restore points were created at that time (Windows usually does). Otherwise pick a restore point that pre-dates the updates.
Doesn’t always work but often does.


Editorial comment: Ahh the joys of M$FT updates.

1 Like

Thanks for trying, folks,

I did find another set of profiles in the “Roaming” folder, but that didn’t work either.

To make matters worse, I installed T-Bird on a separate drive (first version originally in 2017) that I use only for program files. Evidently MSFT doesn’t like that so they moved T-bird files to drive “C:” but left all the files on the former drive–and none of them work right!

Now I can run a T-Bird version from either drive and the files don’t show up for either version. Man, I can’t believe this mess.

I would try the Thunderbird support forum rather than here

Dear Microsoft,

I would prefer to send this to you by email, but I can’t. As a fan of naming
programs to identify what they actually do, I offer this heartfelt advice:

Please consider renaming “MS Update” to “MS Shuffle & Destroy.”


-Screwed # 4,323,467

  1. Windows Update will sometimes move files. Backup copies are in the windows.old folder for 30 days. Rolling back the update might restore the files.

  2. File locations depend on how the software was installed. Google stores emails in the cloud by default, but can be set up to store locally or to sync between email clients.

Google data can be downloaded using . Google contacts can be exported using the Google Contact app.

  1. Outlook sometimes uses a local .pst file. Search This PC for *.pst .

  2. Pick one primary email client, and forward all other emails to that client. Then backup the files for that email client.

  3. It depends on the software settings. Using POP or syching can do unexpected things. There are many options that have been added to help manage email. Email clients can be simple, or quite complicated.

— links —
Case: Windows 10 updates delete my files, Last update August 19, 2022…

“If the emails you read in your other email client are getting deleted from Gmail, check your POP settings.”