Corrupt inbox

Dear Computer Lady,

I use outlook express for my email. I cannot delete any email in my in box. At first it was only email with attachments in my in box, the sent box and delete box was okay but now I can’t delete anything! I can send and receive but that’s it. About a month ago, I couldn’t receive email and got that fixed, was told I had a corrupted file. At that time I lost all email. It has been working until now. What can I do?



Dear Laura,

Outlook Express does occasionally have problems with corrupt files, and it sounds like you are having another problem of this type.

I have found that it is fairly easy to fix corrupt files, and most of the time keep your saved e-mail messages.

The solution is to move your e-mail files, which forces Outlook express to create new, empty files, then, if you want, you can import the messages from your old files.

1. First, you need to find the location of the email files. To do this, open Outlook Express, click on “Tools” in the menu bar, then click Options.

2. In the Options window, click on the Maintenance tab, then click on the button that says “Store Folder”.

3. A small window will appear with the location of your e-mail files. Highlight the folder location, and then press CTRL+C to copy the location.

4. Click Cancel, and then click Cancel again to close the dialog box. Close Outlook Express.

5. Now, you want to open the folder that contains your mail files. An easy way to do this is to click Start, and then click Run.

6. In the Run window, click in the box that says “Open” and press CTRL+V to paste in the location, and then click OK. The window containing your files will now open.

7. In the window containing your mail files, go to the Edit menu, click Select All. This will highlight all the files in the window.

8. Again, click on Edit, then click Copy to copy the files. Leave this window open for now, you will need to go back to it later.

9. To create a folder to store your saved files, right-click any empty space on your desktop, click New, and then click Folder.

10. Type mail backup for the folder name, and then press ENTER.

11. Double-click the Mail Backup folder to open it.

12. In the open mail backup folder, click on Edit, then click Paste. The e-mail files will appear in the window.

Now that you have saved a copy of your email folders, go back to the window containing your original mail files and delete the file you are having problems with. Make sure that you have already closed Outlook Express in step 4 above.

When you open Outlook Express, it will create a new inbox file, which should work better than the old corrupt one.

If you want to try getting your email messages back, you can use the built in, “Import function” to import the messages from the old files.


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    • Nancy
    • October 22, 2009

    How do you know what file is corrupt????

    • alexnetherton
    • October 25, 2009

    Elizabeth, I gave up on Outlook Express a long time ago. It is no longer on new computers with Vista, though Vista has Windows Mail. I use Mozilla Thunderbird, have been using it for about 10 years, and have never looked back. It is, in my opinion, the best e-mail program out there.

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