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Transferring E-mail system from old XP to new Win 8 computer


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#1 saluqi

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 06:34 PM

I have for years conducted an extensive E-mail correspondence using MS Outlook Express 6 on a now obsolete Windows XP SP3 computer.  I now have a new Windows 8 computer (laptop) and need to move the E-mail function into the Win 8 environment.  I am owner or moderator of several Internet mailing lists.  The OE 6 mail system has 50 or so folders, with messages sorted automatically on arrival into the appropriate folder.  There are also very extensive archives using a second "identity" within Outlook Express.  Some messages have photos or other attachments I don't want to lose - indeed some of them would be near impossible to replace (correspondence about aboriginal dog types with persons now dead, and so on).  The total of all this stored material is at least a couple of hundred thousand messages - the Outlook Express store is over 20 GB in size.

 

Questions arising, what mail client to use for the future, and how to convert all those folders and messages without losing anything.

 

I also have mail archives of still older systems - AOL mail, Netscape, maybe others - totalling maybe another 50,000 or so messages, that it would also be nice to be able to rescue.

 

The laptop has a 1 TB hard drive, and I have two 2 TB external hard drives (and would buy more at need), so I don't think storage space will be a problem.

 

I have some utilities for manipulating .dbx files, and for extracting their contents in .eml format, but at present my knowledge and experience don't go much beyond that.  I've never used Outlook - maybe it's time I learned, because that might be one way to go forward?

 

Thanks for any advice!


Edited by saluqi, 08 June 2014 - 06:40 PM.


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#2 wpgwpg

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 06:50 PM

 You have several options.  You could install Thunderbird on the XP computer, and it will import your email from OE.  Then you can copy the data to your Windows 8 one where you can install Thunderbird.  Another option would be to export from OE to a CSV file, then import them on Windows 8.  You can install Windows Live Mail on XP, export the email, then import it to WLM under Windows 8.  With AOL, you can just install AOL on Windows 8.

 

Good luck.


Everyone with a computer should back his system up to an external hard drive regularly.  :thumbsup:

#3 saluqi

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 10:26 PM

I abandoned AOL after a very bad experience in January 1999.  I have absolutely no desire to go back there.  The AOL archives (32,000 messages, basically raw material intended for a book) are damaged and recovering them is a "some day, maybe" project.

 

I would be interested in knowing more about the features and relative merits of Thunderbird, Windows Live Mail and Outlook (I will have MS Office 2013 on this computer in due course).  I know nothing of Thunderbird, and of Outlook only that my secretary uses it with great panache in our office.  I gather that WLM is a sort of successor to Outlook Express.

 

Certain things are important to me.  One is the ability to use "rules" to sort incoming mail automatically, on arrival, into specific folders according to content or, for instance, according to the address from which it comes.  Another is the ability to receive directly, without being re-routed to a Web site, large attachments.  I routinely receive image files of 5 MB or more each, sometimes a dozen attached to a single message.  Another is the ability to deal with foreign languages and special characters, and so to send mail in Unicode format whenever necessary.  I correspond in four languages and read a half dozen more.  Another is a large "In-box" on the server (at present I have 200 MB, and could use more).  I get lots of mail (too much, but that is the price of admission for what I do).  Often a couple of hundred messages in a day; on really bad days as many as two thousand.  I do not store messages on the server, but download everything to clear the inbox, and store what needs storing on my own computer (OK, I have a good many GB of picture files on Dropbox, but that's a special case for special purposes, such as exporting publication-quality images which would, I suspect, choke any mail client <G>).

 

My E-mail address is known worldwide and changing it is going to be a trauma in any case.  I certainly don't want to have to change it more than once.  The last time I changed it was 15 years ago, when I ditched AOL.

 

I have now written this entire message twice, except the first and last sentences.  I had just finished it (it took me an hour, I am a fast typist but a slow writer, I choose my words carefully) when the whole thing disappeared in a blue flash and could not be recovered either by "undo" or by "View Auto-Saved Content".

 

Since writing the above para I have been kicked out TWICE more - the first time, bounced back to the Win 8 Desktop! and Auto-Save saved nearly all of it - all but the last half sentence - and the second time half the message disappeared in a blue flash and I was able to recover most of it by "undo".  OK, laptop keyboards are a bit ticklish, but this is ridiculous.  Mostly it seems to happen when I hit the "Shift" key.  Ideas, anybody?  Writing this message has taken me an hour, EACH TIME, and I am not delighted.



#4 saluqi

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 07:45 PM

I have now spent a good many hours looking at the features of various Windows mail programs, and unfortunately my old brain is more confused than ever.

 

At the risk of repeating myself, at present I have on an old XP machine a large elaborate system of mail folders, both active and archived, all in Outlook Express .dbx format.  Outlook Express gets wonky when its files get too big.  I have solved that problem by creating a separate "identity" for the archive files (actually, four of them, but three are small special-purpose ones), and within each identity a large number of separate folders into which incoming mail is sorted automatically on arrival, on the basis of "mail rules" I have set up.  Only one "identity" is live online, the others exist only for archives.  The total size of the OE Store on my XP system is nearly 22 GB.  More than 1\3 GB of that belongs to the main online "identity" with approximately 50 folders - basically, one folder (subfolder under "Inbox") for each of the many mailing lists in which I am involved, and a few of those are further subdivided.  The "rules" capability of OE 6 is actually fairly powerful once you have learned how to use it - the sequence in which rules are applied is all-important <G>.  I have long ago moved the OE Store folders from their non-obvious default location to a folder labeled, er, C:\Outlook Express Store.

 

I suppose the mail clients I am most inclined to look at for the Windows 8 (and 8.1) system include MS Outlook, Thunderbird, or Windows Live Mail.  I think I notice that WLM has been stripped of a couple of the OE features I find especially useful.

 

I don't think I need a particularly fancy mailer - perhaps that's because I have not yet used one? <G>.  At present it seems to me I don't really need the "corporate office" features of Outlook.  Maybe that's a mistake.  We use it in the office, and my secretary is a whiz with it.  I've never used it myself.

 

Features important to me include 1) the ability to sort incoming mail automatically according to origin, addressee, list identifier etc., as I do using "rules" in OE 6; 2) the ability to receive and send large attachments (photos and manuscripts, mostly) directly as attachments, rather than having them routed to a Web site ... that's fine for those with high speed internet, but not all my correspondents have access to that; 3) the ability to send text containing non-ANSI characters (that usually means in Unicode format) and have it arrive the way I sent it, and of course also the ability to receive text the same way - if the text contains say a µ (Greek "mu") then it should come out that way at the other end, not as an ampersand code string <G>.  Unicode allows you to do that without breaking the "plain text" rule.

 

There are probably more, but I'm too tired to think of them right now.

 



#5 sflatechguy

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 10:40 PM

Outlook would be a good fit, as it allows for the creation of rules and the use of Unicode characters, etc.

The tricky part is going to be migrating all that data.

Outlook Express, Winodws Live Mail, Thunderbird and Outlook all use different formats to store mail, calendars, contacts, etc. While it is possible to install Thunderbird on the XP machine and import the mail from OE, you'll then have to manually transfer that 22 GB of data from the XP machine to Windows 8, and then import it into Thunderbird on the Windows 8 machine.

Same holds true for Windows Live Mail. And like Thunderbird, you'll have to install it on the Windows 8 machine, as it doesn't come pre-installed with Windows 8.

And, regardless of which email client you choose to use, there's no guarantee that all the data will transfer over. You may find yourself forced to rebuild contact lists and rules because, as stated earlier, the various clients all use different data formats and not everything will transfer over properly formatted -- or even transfer over at all.

If it sounds a bit overwhelming, you may want to consider hiring someone to handle the migration for you.



#6 saluqi

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Posted 25 June 2014 - 08:52 PM

On investigating I find it should be fairly straightforward to import my OE files, settings, rules and contacts to Outlook.  The catch is, that 64 bit Outlook 13 no longer has that capability.  So I think I would have to uninstall the 64 bit version, install the 32 bit version, convert the files, save them somewhere, uninstall the 32 bit Outlook, reinstall the 64 bit Outlook and then import the converted files (or set them as the Outlook store ...).

 

Fortunately I have not yet installed any version of Outlook on this computer (the i7 one at home).  The work computer has Office 365 installed - but I don't need or want my personal e-mail files there <G>.  My private life and my office life are, fortunately, completely separate, and I aim to keep them that way.

 

Question arising: on the old XP computer I have Office 2007.  Could I make the conversion there, install Office 365 on this laptop, and then migrate the converted files over?

 

I suppose there is some compelling technical reason why 64 bit Outlook can no longer convert OE 4/5/6, WM or WLM files.  At least, I hope so.  Otherwise the logic of removing that ability would be hard to understand.

 

Another question arising: the .dbx files in Outlook Express each correspond to one folder.  What do the .pst files in Outlook represent?  One folder each?  Or am I going to get one humongous 13 GB .pst file corresponding to all the folders belonging to one OE "identity"?  Are there any size limitations on .pst files?  A few of my OE folders might contain more than 10,000 messages and the .dbx file might be more than one GB in size.  Most of them are much smaller.

 

Probably these are stupid questions to which Google holds the answers.



#7 sflatechguy

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Posted 25 June 2014 - 10:43 PM

You could just stick with the 32-bit version of Outlook once you've installed it -- it will run fine on a 64-bit operating system. There are potential problems with importing a 32-bit version of the .pst file into a 64-bit version of Outlook, including potential file corruption.

 

As for .pst files, Outlook creates one .pst file per profile, which includes email, calendar items, contacts and mailbox folders. In short, a .pst file includes what would be several .dbx files into one file. So, yes, you will end up with one humoungous .pst file IF you try to roll all those .dbx files into one Outlook profile. And there are size limitations on .pst files, the restriction behing dependant on the version of Outlook you are using. Outlook 2007 has a 20GB limit, while Outlook 2013 has a 50GB limit.



#8 saluqi

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 10:51 PM

I was planning to install Outlook 365 since I already have the license.  Am I correct in thinking that I would notice file corruption if it occurred?  I would of course not scrap the original Outlook Express files (safe enough so long as I don't put the XP computer on line) until I was quite sure the data were intact.  In fact, wouldn't "scrap" them at all, just mothball them.  Already have an interesting collection of "mothball" items - the trick is to be sure I still have the tools to read them <G>.  Software is sometimes more evanescent than data.  I've had platforms shift under my feet more than once <G>.  I still have important environmental data files created in the 1970s by data-entry operators under contract to Florida State University, purged by me (ouch) of innumerable data-entry errors (hey, I was in charge of the actual data collection <G>) and converted to xBase format (also by me) and to this day the object of some very interesting and productive ecological analysis.  The data have remained the same, but I've had to update the platform half a dozen times <G>.  The original was a stack of JCL printout more than a foot high <G>.

 

Well, there is a book - 288 pages of double-column text, 190 color photographs, all but half a dozen by me <G>.  A coffee-table book, actually, not a dry technical treatise, on marine life in Saudi Arabia <G>.

 

Am I correct in thinking that a "profile" in Outlook is more or less the same thing as an "identity" in Outlook Express?  If so, I have used multiple identities in OE to keep files from getting too big, no reason not to use the same idea in Outlook?  If necessary I can shuffle stuff around in OE before converting - I have the Stephen Cochrane utilities for manipulating .dbx files and am fairly familiar with their use.  Remember I go back to the days when you had to be mindful of the size limitations of FAT tables <G>.  There are already 5 identities in my OE system, and no particular reason not to create more if needed - but with the 20 GB limit of Outlook 2007 it won't be needed so far as I can see?  By moving past-year messages into an archive identity I can probably shrink the size of the main OE identity by at least 50%, to around 6 GB.  I can slice the OE cake however necessary, a bit tedious but eminently doable.

 

I get the impression, from various reading, that .pst files are a bit more fragile than .dbx files (which are already fragile enough!).  Is that correct?  Already have everything backed up twice, on two separate external HDDs disconnected when not in use, but maybe that's not enough?



#9 sflatechguy

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Posted 28 June 2014 - 12:24 AM

In Outlook, a profile can include multiple email addresses. You can set up a profile to use Office 365, Yahoo and Hotmail email addresses, including calendars, contacts, etc. for each email account, and set one of them to be the primary email address. Or, you can create individual profiles for each email address, although this can get cumbersome as you'd have to log out of one profile, and then log into another if you wanted to switch. So in that sense, .pst files are a bit more flexible than dbx files -- not sure I'd agree that they're more fragile. if those Outlook Express files were to become corrupt during transfer to Outlook, you would probably get an error message while transferring them.

 

If you do go the Office 365 route, you can connect your Outlook to Office 365, import the Outlook Express emails into Outlook, and Outlook will then sync all of that to the cloud. This means you'll be able to access those emails through a web browser, or through Outlook -- creating in essence a cloud-based backup for all your existing emails, plus any future emails. You could still archive them in Outlook as well. Office 365 (if you're using the business version) gives you 50 GB of storage.

 

Hope that helps.



#10 saluqi

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Posted 29 June 2014 - 09:19 PM

OK, now I am getting confused, probably because I'm unfamiliar with Outlook and with more sophisticated E-mail systems in general.  I've been doing a lot of mail but concentrating more on the content than on how to improve my system-  with the result that my system - and my general understanding of the subject - is pretty primitive.  So now it is crunch time, it seems <G>.  I have an antique Windows XP computer with a humongous Outlook Express mail system - 5 identities, a hundred or more .dbx files among them, 22 GB of mail data (2/3 or more of it being archive material, to which however I want to retain some kind of access).  Outlook 2007 (well, MS Office 2007) is installed on that computer, but I have never used Outlook.  I have an almost new Windows 8 computer (laptop) to which I want to transfer the whole shebang, so I can finally retire the XP machine for good.

 

I have learned that 64 bit Outlook 2013 (which AFAIK is the version included in MS Office 365) no longer allows the importation of Outlook Express data (messages, contacts, rules, etc.).  Only 32 bit Outlook 2013 (or earlier versions) allows that.  So is the reasonable thing to do 1) set up Outlook 2007 on the XP machine and import my OE 6 files into Outlook, and 2) set up 64 bit Outlook 2013 on the Win 8 machine, and 3) move the .pst files from the XP machine to the Win 8 machine and try to import them into the Outlook installation there?  I am not really stupid (at least, I don't think so <G>) but Outlook is for me completely unknown territory.  My own usual reply to such situations, when others present them to me, is to RTFM - so where do I find that? <G>.  Or in other words, I think I need to understand Outlook better than I do.

 

Eventually I will replace the XP desktop with a custom build, but right now my urgent concern is to get the XP box "off the air" before something nasty happens to it (it is switched off, or physically disconnected from the Internet, at all times except when receiving and sending mail).  Question arising: would it be possible to set up Outlook on the Win 8 laptop, set up the few really important lists and contacts, and start processing mail from there, and import the "historical" files (meaning in this case anything older than yesterday) at my leisure later on?  There are maybe a half dozen lists, and fifty or so contacts, for which continuity is really important.  Most of the other's won't miss me (much? <G>) if I "disappear" for a couple of weeks.  After all I've done it before (when attending international conferences, etc. etc.).

 

Eek, I suppose I now won't be able to escape E-mail, even if I'm in Budapest, or Helsinki, or London, or Vienna, or Townsville, or Beijing ... <G>)  Galaxy S5, here we come (ouch! <G>).  And at my age, too, yikes! <G>  Actually, I've been reachable by phone in all those places, so methinks I am protesting too much <G>.  I mean, I am so old I can remember when we communicated by writing (not even typing) LETTERS.  Sic transit gloria mundi (oops, that belongs in a different context, but never mind <G>).



#11 sflatechguy

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Posted 29 June 2014 - 10:17 PM

These should help:

 

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/196347

 

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/support/outlook-2013-quick-start-guide-HA103673692.aspx

 

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook-help/introduction-to-outlook-data-files-pst-and-ost-HA102749465.aspx

 

https://support.office.live.com/article/6e27792a-9267-4aa4-8bb6-c84ef146101b



#12 saluqi

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 11:00 PM

Thanks!

 

Maybe I am too stupid for this.  It doesn't help that I get to it only at the end of a long day, with fried brains (it was 106 F. out there today, will be 109 tomorrow).  I think I have figured out that I first have to set up an Outlook account.  It wants the name of the account (I supppose I can use anything I want?) and the name of a server (I suppose that would be the one I am currently using for my Outlook Express mail?) ... for the moment I am still an Earthlink customer, with a POP3 account,  I am no longer using the Earthlink dial-up connection (I have something much faster) but am still paying Earthlink for the mail account and the Web space.  

 

So how do I set up the connection?  Or do I better leave that for the moment, just set up a couple of profiles to receive all those OE 6 mail files, and meanwhile set up an Outlook 13 system on the laptop to handle current mail?  I have found the default location of the .pst files on the old computer ... they are empty I think, because I've never used Outlook, but 265 KB in size just the same <G>.

 

If I have understood all this correctly, what I am trying to do is set up a 32 bit Outlook mail file system on the old XP computer, into which I can import all those OE 6 files, and set up a 64 bit Outlook system on the laptop to handle current and future mail, and into which I can then import the .pst files from the old computer.

 

Sorry to be so slow-witted, but hey, I'm not 15 any more, and can't assimilate this stuff as fast as the young folks <G>.

 

I am planning to ditch the Earthlink server in due course, set up maybe a Gmail account, set up a domain for my Web sites, etc., but all in good time.  I have to take it slowly, because I also have a very demanding (physically as well as mentally) full-time job, not really suitable for an old geezer but there's nobody else even remotely in sight who could do it.  At least, not for what this impoverished community can afford to pay <G>.



#13 sflatechguy

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 11:13 PM

I believe we have it down now. B)

 

Set up an Outlook profile (yes, you can call it whatever you want). Connect Outlook to your Earthlink POP account (https://support.earthlink.net/articles/email/setting-up-your-email-program.php). The directions for Outlook 2010 will also work for 2013.

 

Import the OE files into 32-bit Outlook on the machine running XP. Once imported, export the .pst file (if there are multiple .pst files, export them all), transfer the .pst file(s) to the laptop, then import the .pst into 64-bit Outlook.

 

If you do decide to go with Gmail down the road, you can connect that to Outlook as well. Just add the email settings to the Outlook profile you created.



#14 saluqi

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Posted 04 July 2014 - 04:55 PM

Thanks, I think I get it now.  Then I can close down the XP machine altogether (and maybe wipe it and install Linux <G>).

 

There is LOTS of data still on it - photos, videos and what not - but all of that is backed up to external drives so shifting it over should not be too hard.  Just need to scan everything first, I have no reason to suspect any infection, but "Vorsicht ist die Mutter der Porzellankiste" ("Better safe than sorry") as the Germans say.

 

Related question - if this is the right place to ask it - this laptop keeps trying to install Dropbox for me, opening a new account with basic free storage.  I already have a Dropbox account on the XP box with MUCH more storage (from the Dropbox rewards system) and lots of folders shared with various people.  I won't need Dropbox on the XP after migrating everything, but will need the "old" Dropbox account on the new computer.  I suppose the thing to do is ask Dropbox.



#15 sflatechguy

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Posted 04 July 2014 - 07:26 PM

Once you've got everything transferred over, you could wipe the hard drive on the XP machine and install Linux. You can even keep XP if you want and set it up to dual-boot if you want. Most Linux distributions will walk you through that process when you install. Good choices for the first-time Linux user are Ubuntu and Mint. If you're an old Unix hand, you might try SUSE. But given support for XP is done, you might want to get rid of it.
Your pictures and videos will work on Linux. Newer Word and Excel documents can be opened in LibreOffice, which comes with most Linux installs. The reverse is usually true as well -- Libre docs can be opened in newer versions of Office.
You can set up your existing Dropbox account on the new machine: https://www.dropbox.com/help/1941/en
Good luck with the transfer.




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