How to Restore Inbox.Bak for Outlook Express

Written by jay leon
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How to Restore Inbox.Bak for Outlook Express
(Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

A corrupted or missing inbox in Outlook Express need not mean the end for your e-mail. Before you panic, try restoring a backup copy of the damaged or missing folder. Restoring a backup inbox is similar to undeleting other types of files that are stored in the Recycle Bin. Microsoft provides an update for Outlook Express that will automatically create backup files before compaction. Download and install the update if you do not have it yet. Note however, that it will not solve a problem that occurred before the update was installed.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Close Outlook Express, if it is open, by clicking the "x" button in the upper-right corner of the main window or clicking "Exit" in the "File" menu.

  2. 2

    Double-click the "Recycle Bin" icon on the desktop. Look in the list of deleted items for the "inbox.bak" file. Right-click the file and click "Restore." Note the location under the "Original Location" column. Windows will restore the inbox.bak file to that folder.

  3. 3

    Launch Windows Explorer from the "Accessories" folder in the Start menu or double-click the "My Computer" icon. Click through the folders until you arrive at the Outlook Express mail folder where the inbox.bak has been restored.

  4. 4

    Make sure you browse to the correct Windows global user identification number, which is unique for each Outlook Express profile (if there is more than one). You will see it as a long string of numbers in curly brackets like this: {1234567890}.

  5. 5

    Check if there is a file in that folder named "inbox.dbx." If there is, right-click the file, then drag and drop it to the desktop or another folder. Click "Move." You need to do this or you will be unable to rename the inbox.bak file to an Outlook Express mail folder.

  6. 6

    Right-click the inbox.bak file. Click "Rename" in the menu. Replace "bak" with "dbx" to restore it as a mail folder.

  7. 7

    Launch Outlook Express again. The old inbox should now be restored. You can safely delete the other inbox.dbx if you are sure the restoration has been successful.

Tips and warnings

  • The Outlook Express mail folder location may be in a hidden folder. To reveal hidden files and folders, open Windows Explorer and click "Folder Options" in the "Tools" menu. Click the "View" tab and enable "Show Hidden Files and Folders" in the list of options.

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