Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Windows 7: Converting Old Outlook Express DBX Files

I was running Windows 7.  I had some files with a .dbx extension from Outlook Express (OE) in Windows XP.  There was a separate DBX file for the Inbox, the Outbox, and every other folder I had used in OE.  OE did not come with Win7, and I heard it would not even run on Win7 if I did get a copy of it from somewhere.  This is a brief summary of how I extracted emails from those DBX files.

I had two different kinds of OE DBX files, and I had to use both of the following approaches to get the files out of all of them.  Each approach had its advantages.

First Approach:  DBXConvert

There were many Win7 utilities for sale that would apparently extract individual emails and newsgroup posts from old OE DBX files.  I finally found a freeware solution, DBXConv.zip, available for download from the bottom of a German webpage.  I unzipped and double-clicked the resulting portable DBXConvert.exe (I think it was just dbxconv.exe before I renamed it), but all I saw was the brief flash of a Win7 DOS command box.  This told me that it was doing something in DOS and was then terminating, all too quickly for me to see.

To see what was happening, I wanted to run DBXConvert from a DOS box.  To do this, I used an option I had previously installed using Ultimate Windows Tweaker (UWT).  The option in question was in the Additional Tweaks section of UWT.  This option added an "Open Command Window Here" context menu (i.e., right-click) option in Windows Explorer.  In other words, in Windows Explorer I went to the folder where I had saved DBXConvert.exe, right-clicked on that folder, and opened a command window there.

In the DOS box, I typed DIR to see whatever files were in there, and to run the executable one I just typed its name (e.g., DBXConv.exe) and hit Enter.  Now I saw that DBXConv needed me to specify additional instructions before it would run.  To see the options, as with any DOS command, I typed "dbxconv /?"  Using what I learned from that, I typed "dbxconv -eml [filename]."  I am not sure exactly how I typed the filename, but it worked.  I think I typed something like "dbxconv -eml OutputFile," and that's where the individual messages from the DBX file went.

Second Approach:  Windows Live

If memory serves, I downloaded and installed Windows Live Mail 2011 (WLM) and then found that it would not retrieve newsgroup posts from DBX files, and that's why I went with the DBXConvert approach for some of the DBX files.  The WLM approach did not give me individual EML files that I would then have to import into my email program or convert in an additional step.  Instead, the emails and posts went (or at least I moved them into) my Hotmail account, which I viewed on Thunderbird and then was able to export as individual EMLs.


Alex Franky

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Kaye R. Jenkins

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