[access-uk] Transferring Outlook Express

  • From: "Sunil" <bosley20@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <access-uk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 5 Sep 2005 11:26:55 +0100

This is from a three part guide but I reckon the first two instalments are
enough - the third part deals with tinkering around in the registry. Its
from the Telegraph:

transferring Outlook Express
(Filed: 20/01/2004)

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The novelty of owning a new PC or laptop quickly wears off when it comes to
loading programs and transferring across data files, but for the most part
a fairly straightforward, though time-consuming, job. However, things often
grind to a halt with email accounts and messages and a lot of people just
up and start from scratch.


The trouble is Outlook Express (OE), used by most PC owners, lacks any
simple means of transferring data. It's not too bad when the PCs are
connected to
a network or both of them use the Windows XP operating system, but it can
get messy when it involves different versions of Windows.

The problem lies in how OE manages its files, which are spread around the
hard disc drive in a seemingly haphazard manner. As well, some of them are
or in proprietary file formats that defy most attempts to copy and paste
files and folders. Worse still, important configuration data is deeply
inside the Windows Registry and novices tinker with it at their peril.

This week we're going to look at what's involved and where the files and
folders are stored. In part two we'll look at a simple step-by-step
procedure to
safely and securely transfer your basic email settings and messages from one
PC to another; in part three we'll look at the Registry components and tidy
up the loose ends.

Incidentally, what follows mainly refers to Outlook Express versions 5 and
6. If you're still using OE4 you're on your own and it's about time you

Outlook Express has three key components that you need to copy to a new PC
to transfer or duplicate your current email setup: the Message Store,
Book, and your Accounts Information. For a full transfer you will also need
to copy Message Rules and Customisation data from the Registry.

The Message Store contains all of the emails you have sent, received,
deleted or drafted in *.dbx files, a database format that can also be read,
awkwardly, by text editors such as Notepad, WordPad and Word.

This is worth knowing if OE curls up its toes and you need to get at your
messages in an emergency. Depending on your operating system the Message
is normally in one of two locations. In Windows 9x (95/98/SE/ME) you'll find
it at:
DataOutlook Express
Outlook Express.

In Windows XP it is in:
C:Documents and
Outlook Express.

The "{GUID}" bit is the Global Unique Identifier, a long string of
characters unique to your PC.

Neither location is convenient if you want to get to them in a hurry so this
might be a good time to take advantage of a facility in OE to move the
Store. You'll find it by going to the Tools menu, select Options, then
Maintenance and then click the Store Folder button. From there you can
choose a
new location.

It's a good idea to create a new folder in the root of the C: drive and call
it something simple such as OEStore.

Your Address Book is also squirreled away. In Windows 9x it's usually in:
Application Data

In XP it should be:
C:Documents and Settings
Application Data

It may well have been moved by other applications, in which case you can
find it by opening the Address Book and clicking on Help >About Address

By the way, if you open the Address Book folder in Windows Explorer you'll
see two files called <yourname>.wab and <yourname>.wa. The *.wab file is the
Windows Address Book; the other one is a backup, created every time you
start OE, which you can restore - should your Address Book become corrupted
- by
changing the file extension to "wab".

Accounts information includes all dial-up connections, passwords, email
username and address, plus settings OE needs to send and receive email and
plus Message Rules and any customisations you may have applied, live deep in
the Registry.

Fortunately, the basic Accounts info is easy to copy across to a new PC but
Message Rules can be a problem - though there are ways, to be discussed in

In part one last week we looked at how and where Outlook Express stores the
files needed to transfer your email set-up from one PC to another. This week
we'll be doing the deed, but first you must decide how you will copy the
files to the new PC since at least one of them is much too large to fit on
a floppy disc.


There are plenty of options, including copying the files to a CD-R/RW if the
PC you are transferring from has a CD-writer. You could set up a direct
connection, or "DCC", (see
Bootcamps 67
Files can be copied over a network, or you could temporarily "slave" the
hard drive from your old PC in the new machine. At a pinch, you could even
files to the second machine as e-mail attachments, though this could take a
while as the Message Store can contain dozens of megabytes of data.

The idea is to copy the three main components of Outlook Express (Message
Store, Address Book and Accounts Information) via your chosen medium to a
or folders on the hard drive on the new PC. This is important. The
information must be moved on to the recipient PC's hard disc, particularly
if you are
using a CD-R/RW, as the data on a recordable disc is flagged as "Read Only"
and this can prevent Outlook Express from accessing it properly.

You can move the three items one at a time or in one go, it doesn't make any
difference, but it's a good idea to start with the largest, the Message
Incidentally you don't have to copy all of your mailbox files (extension
"*.dbx") in the Message Store folder, but you must include the "Folders.dbx"
as this is the master index.

Once your Message Store folder is on the hard drive of the new machine, you
can copy your mailboxes into Outlook Express by going to: File < Import <
< Outlook Express 5 (or 6, if shown) < Next. Select "Import Mail" from an
OE5 or 6 Store Directory, click OK, use the Browse button to locate the
Message Store folder and follow the prompts.

The Address Book is next. This is a single file with the extension "*.wab"
(see Part 1). Simply copy it across to a safe location on your new PC's hard
drive (it should fit on to a floppy disc), and in Outlook Express on the
second PC go to File &gt; Import Address Book and point it to the location
your "wab" file.

If you have difficulty copying the Address Book in its native "wab" file
format, there's a fallback method. On your original PC open OE and go to
File <
Export < Address Book, select Text File (comma separated value), give it a
name and nominate a destination folder. Copy the "*.csv" file across to the
new PC then go to File < Import < Other Address Book < Text File (comma
separated value).

The last step is to copy your Accounts Information. OE has a built-in Export
function, which you will find by going to Tools < Accounts and start with
email by selecting the Mail tab. (If you subscribe to newsgroups, select the
News tab and follow the same procedure.) If you have more than one email
highlight each in turn and click the Export button.

You will be asked to specify a location and this will create an Internet
Account File (extension "*.iaf"); repeat as necessary for each email and
account. Copy the "*.iaf" files from your old PC (they should fit on a
floppy) into a folder on the hard disc of your new PC. Open Outlook Express,
to Tools < Accounts, select the Mail tab, click the Import button, locate
your copied "*.iaf" files and repeat until they're all safely installed.

Your email passwords are not transferred and will have to be re-entered the
first time you use OE to send or receive emails. Outlook Express on the new
PC is now ready to go, but it's a good idea to bed everything in by carrying
out a reboot.

Once you are happy OE is working properly, you can delete your transfer
files or copy them all into one folder, which can act as an archive or
backup, or
you can use them to set up email on another PC. Once you have a backup, you
can safely thin out your mailboxes.

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