For quite awhile now I’ve been using Mozilla Thunderbird for my email client. I pretty much like it, but lately I had been having some problems with it. Most notably with backing up and restoring my accounts.

I use MozBackup for that task, and at first it worked really well (MozBackup also will backup all your Firefox settings). Then in more recent times I began having trouble with restoring a backup, it wouldn’t put all the data back in the accounts properly. I especially was dismayed by my main Inbox folder remaining completely empty after a restoration.

Another issue that puzzled me was no matter how much stuff I deleted out of my email folders, the backups kept getting bigger and bigger. I think they were getting to be around 300MB, and I knew I didn’t have NEAR that much stuff in there.

I did a little research, and came across a tidbit that I wasn’t aware of. If you don’t manually compact folders in Thunderbird, it can lead to big problems. And among those problems are empty inboxes, erratic behavior, and large profiles.

Like many email clients, Thunderbird just marks a message and then hides it from view when you delete it. It’s only when you compact folders that the deleted messages are physically deleted.

So even though I was deleting messages, they were still actually there, just hidden. This was creating such a mess that it was starting to affect function. It wasn’t until I compacted folders that the deleted messages were actually gone and the mess was cleaned up. Everything seems to be working very well right now.

File – Compact Folders will do the trick, as will right-clicking on a folder and selecting the Compact This Folder option.