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  1. #1


    Member Since
    Feb 29, 2012
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    7
    Thunderbird backup
    Hi all,

    My Thunderbird mysteriously lost the last 2 months of emails. I felt relieved because I had backed up on Time Machine just yesterday but... I can't find the files ANYWHERE to restore them! PLEASE HELP. I have lost a bundle of important emails

    I also tried to repair the folder from Thunderbird, but it does not help. Clearly I chose the wrong program to use for email

  2. #2

    vansmith's Avatar
    Member Since
    Oct 19, 2008
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    Specs:
    2012 13" MBP (2.5 i5, 8GB)
    I'm not sure if TBird stores the emails in the profile but if they do, follow the instructions here to find the profile.
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  3. #3


    Member Since
    Feb 29, 2012
    Posts
    7
    Its there on my normal HD, but for some reason I can't find the Thunderbird folder in the Library on the backup. And I have NO exclusions set on Time Machine... can't find it through a spotlight search either....

  4. #4

    chscag's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 23, 2008
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    Fort Worth, Texas
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    48,474
    Specs:
    Late 2013 27" iMac, iPad 3, iPhone 6s+, iPhone 6+, 3 iPods, El Capitan
    You're probably looking in the wrong place. Mozilla "hides" stuff in most unusual places. Here is the path to your mail:

    MacIntosh HD/Users/your user name/Library/Caches/Metadata/Thunderbird/Mail/

    Take note: If you're using Lion, the library folder is hidden by default.

  5. #5


    Member Since
    Feb 29, 2012
    Posts
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    Thank you for jumping in chsag. My problem appears to be that Time Machine did NOT back up the hidden Library folder... grrrrrrr! I know I can find it by pressing OPTION when I click GO, but is there a way to permanently unhide it? Do you have any idea how Time Machine deals with it?

  6. #6

    chscag's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 23, 2008
    Location
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    Late 2013 27" iMac, iPad 3, iPhone 6s+, iPhone 6+, 3 iPods, El Capitan
    Yeah, it's a real pain but I guess Apple has their reasons....

    To unhide the user library folder, open Terminal and type in the following and then press enter:

    chflags nohidden ~/Library/

    However, every time Apple issues an update to Lion, you'll have to do the same thing. Let us know how it went.

  7. #7


    Member Since
    Feb 29, 2012
    Posts
    7
    Okay I found the terminal command to unhide it [ chflags nohidden ~/Library/ ] , but is there a chance is it hidden in my time machine backup? and a way to reveal it? or does time machine not back up hidden files?

  8. #8


    Member Since
    Feb 29, 2012
    Posts
    7
    really really really appreciate your help. its CRAZY frustrating doing responsible back ups, and then not finding the files i am looking for. if you can help with figuring out if it backed up the hidden library folder, and how to reveal that, i would be forever grateful

  9. #9

    chscag's Avatar
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    Late 2013 27" iMac, iPad 3, iPhone 6s+, iPhone 6+, 3 iPods, El Capitan
    No, Time Machine should backup everything that's not specifically excluded and that includes hidden files, folders, etc. I don't have my TM drive attached right now so I can't verify if the hidden folder can be unhidden but I suspect it can.

  10. #10

    chscag's Avatar
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    Well, I guess I was wrong! I just attached my Time Machine drive and looked for the Thunderbird Mail file. Guess what? Time Machine does not backup the "cache" folder. And that's where Thunderbird stores the Mail and News items and folders.

    I can view both my Thunderbird News and Mail folder from Finder, but it's nowhere to be found in any of my Time Machine backups. Why in the world Thunderbird buries the mail and news folders in the Cache Metadata folder is beyond me.

    I guess we have to figure out how to backup that folder. I have a backup of it anyway since I also use Carbon Copy Cloner in conjunction with Time Machine to do my backups.

  11. #11

    vansmith's Avatar
    Member Since
    Oct 19, 2008
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    Specs:
    2012 13" MBP (2.5 i5, 8GB)
    According to this page, Thunderbird stores messages in the user profile (which makes sense). I could be wrong since I don't have TBird to check this but it might be worth looking in the TBird profile folder.
    Important Links: Community Guidelines : Use the reputation system if you've been helped.
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  12. #12


    Member Since
    Feb 29, 2012
    Posts
    7
    I couldn't figure out a way to reveal the Hidden Library director on my external drive, but I did notice Time Machine does duplicate backups to a partitiion called Mobile Backups (yay). I finally FOUND the file but... when I try restore or manually copy the backup, I get

    The Finder can’t complete the operation because some data in “” can’t be read or written.
    (Error code -36)

    Any ideas? (Wow this is a pain. I need to switch from Thunderbird)

  13. #13

    chscag's Avatar
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    Specs:
    Late 2013 27" iMac, iPad 3, iPhone 6s+, iPhone 6+, 3 iPods, El Capitan
    Van is correct. I overlooked the profile path by mistakenly going to the cache folder. Here it is....

    /Users/your user name/Library/Thunderbird/Profiles/w52afva1.default/Mail/

    This does show up in the Time Machine backup and can be restored direct.

    Now that I think about it, Thunderbird uses the same folder path in Windows to store the profile and mail - news folders.

    Thanks Van.

  14. #14


    Member Since
    Feb 29, 2012
    Posts
    7
    So it appears the trick is to unhide ALL hidden folders (not just the library), and then I too can find the files in the Time Machine. Thank you so much for all your help. I've restored everything, and the inbox now turns up empty. *sigh* Wow I hate this program. I backed up before restoring, and noticed a 2 gig file called inbox alongside the inbox.msf . This is the file that I have been trying to manually copy across, and keep getting the

    The Finder can’t complete the operation because some data in “” can’t be read or written.
    (Error code -36)

    error with. I am wondering if this is why Time Machine didn't back this file up. When I manually throw this file back in, my inbox returns (but still with the last 3 months missing)

    So I am back to where I started. Any idea why I can't move this file? I did run a disk repair, and everything was fine...

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