Sync thunderbird profiles and mail accounts between computers

thunderbird While I am preparing my backpack travel to China for 2007, I decided to carry one of my older and lighter compaq laptop with me. So I can backup and load pictures to my online photogallery whenever I can. I also want to check email with my favorite email program “Mozilla Thunderbird.” I have seen people share thunderbird profiles between a dual boot computer system between Linux and windows XP. That gave me the idea that I can easily transfer all my thunderbird profile and emails between computers.

[UPDATE] Click here to learn how to sync Google Calendar online and take Google Calendar offline with you in Thunderbird + Lightning. 

This is how-to!


Basically, the idea is to transfer all profile and email accounts from one computers to the other. Thunderbird store all profile information and emails at special location. No system registry are used, which is great! With Microsoft outlook or outlook express, there is no way you do so easily.

My goal is to transfer the profile and email account between two Windows XP laptop. So I first make sure both laptop have the same version of thunderbird installed. In normal case, the thunderbird profile are stored under the hidden “Application Data” folder.

STEP 1: Locate your thunderbird profile

C:\Documents and Settings\[USERNAME]\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles

In my case, my default thunderbird profile are located under:

C:\Documents and Settings\[USERNAME]\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\azzhzgz9.default

STEP 2: Move your default profile

I don’t really like it. I want to move it to the following location on my D: drive (data partition). So I copy the entire content under azzhzgz9.default to the following new location. Remember to close thunderbird before copying the profile.

D:\terencechang\thunderbird_profiles\terencechang

I will also have my email account stored under D drive, which I store all my email accounts when I setup the thunderbird.

D:\terencechang\thunderbird

STEP 3: Create a new profile to use the new directory

To create a new profile, you have to manually create the thunderbird profile by running the profile manager command. Open the start menu and go to RUN. Type in thunderbird -profilemanager

20070805_thunderbird_profilemanager

It will open the thunderbird profile manager program. By default, you will see only one profile “default.

20070805_thunderbird_profilemanager_02

Click on Create profile and type in your profile name. In my case, I use “terencechang” for the new profile name. I also choose the folder where I just copied the default profile to.

20070805_thunderbird_profilemanager_03

Press OK and save. And click finish to complete. Now you can see two profiles listed.

20070805_thunderbird_profilemanager_04

STEP 4: Delete the original profile

Click on “default” and click on Delete Profile to remove the default one. It will prompt you to delete the file or don’t delete the file. I recommend not to delete the file. So you can still have the original copy in place.

20070805_thunderbird_profilemanager_05

Click on “don’t Delete Files” and back to the profile manager screen. You should only see your new profile listed. Click on “Start ThunderBird” to start thunderbird. It it works OK! You are ready to copy profile over to the other computer.

STEP 5: Create new profile on second computer

Repeat STEP 1 to 4 to create the new profile and email storage folders on the other computer you will use to check email.

STEP 6: Copy files

Make sure you copy all profiles and email accounts to the same directory structure on the second computer.

STEP 7: Start your thunderbird and make sure it works

You should have your thunderbird profile and email account transferred to the second computer.

Remember to backup all your files first.

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Share your thoughts with me!

Comments

  1. Terence Chang says

    @TB:

    Sorry. I don’t have Mac to test it out. Someone on this comment list may be able to answer your questions. I did heard people sync the files between XP and Linux. Since Mac is using UNIX core, I imagine that it will work too.

    Keep me post if you find the answer. Thank you for stopping by!

  2. Gilbert says

    Terrance -

    Thanks for the detailed information, certainly a lot of thought has gone into this post

    A couple of questions, I have a workstation and laptop (both XP Pro) and want to have both syned so that all mail and folders are the same. I also always leave mail on the server in case I need to get back to something removed from one machine or the other.

    I am interested in a comment about IMAP and would like to know more about the any issue and how to set up using this approach. I do not travel a lot outside the States and use hard connections for the workstation and generally a wireless broadband card for the laptop as I move around NYC a lot.

    I also recently installed Goodsync Pro: http://www.goodsync.com/ on both so I would imagine I could set them to automate the process, do you need to copy all files from the folder or only specific ones?

    Thanks,
    Gilbert

  3. Terence Chang says

    @Gilbert:

    I am not sure about the IMAP, because I don’t like to use IMAP to fill up my mail box. I always copy the whole director between computers. Even you don’t read email in your mail box, it will update the mailbox status somehow in Thunderbird. So I always do full backup!

    The link you provide seem very interesting. Will check it out!

    Thank you for stopping by!

  4. Gilbert says

    Terence,

    Thanks for your reply, do you know which specific files need to be copied to update or override from one machine to the other?

    Tks

  5. matt says

    Hi.
    Thanks for really good article.
    However it does not cover the situation which recently happened to me and I would be really greatefull if anyone knows solution for this.
    I use Thunderbird on PC and laptop and recently my laptop crashed. Had no time to fix it for over a month and started using PC for emails. Both my Thunderbirds are set up to leave messages on the server so no problem with received messages but messages sent from the PC are not on laptop and I need them at work. In a way I found a way around it by emailing them again to myself and filtering on laptop to be moved to sent folder. My question is – anyone knows more elegant way to do it? to keep sending time/order and original receipient?
    Or is ther an way to merge both email databases on both computers?
    Thanks

  6. Terence Chang says

    @Matt:

    I don’t think there is a program to sync your sent folder. The only way to do so is to use IMAP. However, it means that you can read your email if you are offline.

  7. Max Born says

    There is a program that allows to synchronize to local thunderbird profiles. It copies emails, etc from one to another, or in the direction you select. It is “Synching Thunder” (http://synchingthunder.sourceforge.net/). The only problem is that it is still “green”, but works…most of the time.
    Bestr regards, MB.

  8. Gilbert says

    Max, thanks for the info on the application. As give it a try and provide some feedback (use to be a beta tester) once I figure out why one installation of TB is not working on one of my pc’s

    Tks

  9. Vilius says

    Or just use Mozbackup which does everything for you. Copy back-up`ed data to different machine and you will have exact the same copy (mirror)

    ;)

    Good luck

  10. Terence Chang says

    @Vilius:

    Thank you for the information. The software looks promising. Will do some more research on it. Thanks!

  11. Ken says

    Mozbackup has matured into a very quick and easy solution… for PCs. If you’re like many T-birders, there’s an Apple in the chain somewhere. That’s where you’ve got to manually copy and paste. The folks who’ve developed Foxmarks might have some insight to fixing this syncing feeling. :-)

  12. Barry says

    Hi guys sorry to be late to this chat but i have offered to help a friend who has 3 pc and 1 laptop(apple) using Firebird and its calendar for work/pleasure and recreational planning. they want to use one synchronized calendar on all the pcs.

    what is the best option for this – they have a web hosted service but reading the above it sounds like they should synchronize the current master version onto Google and then attach the other pcs to Google and synchronize with this. thereafter any change is synced everywhere.

    i have made the world too simplistic? or is there a better solution?

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