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.


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


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


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.


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


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.


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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