Migrate from Thunderbird to Outlook

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Migrate from Thunderbird to Outlook

Postposted on Sun Jun 17, 2012 12:46 am

Hey Experts,

I have a problem. I've been using thunderbird for many many years, and have many years of old emails (work and such) in all sorts of subfolders. But I've been playing this stupid game of having my contacts all in outlook, as well as my calendar/scheduling (all of which syncs with my HTC android phone nicely). Then jumping over to thunderbird for the email, and manually adding contacts to that addressbook. Is there an 'easy' way to migrate all this over to MS Outlook, with subfolders intact?

From what I've read, there is no 'easy' way to do this. I was hoping for a simple export option, but no such luck. Has anyone tried to bring their email folders from thunderbird to outlook? What would be the simplest method?
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Re: Migrate from Thunderbird to Outlook

Postposted on Sun Jun 17, 2012 10:10 am

I recommend against this. Outlook uses a proprietary binary file format... even if you manage to load your stuff in there, it will be rather difficult to get it out again in an organized way if you ever change your mind.

Instead of an opaque binary file format like Outlook's PST files, Thunderbird uses "mbox" format text files and the underlying OS's directory structure to organize e-mail folders. This format has been a standard since the mid-1990s. I've been carrying the same set of e-mail folders forward through multiple e-mail clients (and multiple versions of Windows and Linux!) since Netscape Navigator 3.01 (1996 timeframe?), no format conversion or export/import necessary -- just copy-paste the directory tree containing all of my e-mails. As a side benefit, any tool that is capable of searching/processing plain text files can also be used on your e-mail folders.

Simple is also more reliable; on multiple occasions people at work have had to restore their Outlook PST files from a backup because Outlook glitched and ate them. And since it's an opaque binary blob, if Outlook's PST repair tool can't fix the file you're basically hosed -- all your e-mails back to the last good backup gone.

Thunderbird's scheme is also superior if you do any sort of incremental backups -- you're not dumping a huge PST file every time the backup runs, since only files containing e-mail folders that have actually seen activity change. With Outlook you have a monolithic PST file that contains all of the e-mails you've ever filed; the whole thing gets backed up, every time. Even if you try to split it up into multiple PSTs, Outlook "touches" all of them when you start it up, making incremental backup tools think you've touched all of your e-mail folders. (Admittedly, this issue is probably more important in a corporate environment where people save e-mails with large attachments, less so for a home user...)

I understand your desire for better integration, and that technical superiority is little comfort when an application isn't doing what the USER wants. But IMO Outlook is an absolutely HORRID e-mail client, and if I was you I'd be looking for other ways to solve this problem.
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Re: Migrate from Thunderbird to Outlook

Postposted on Sun Jun 17, 2012 11:10 am

One more thumbs down for Outlook, and thumbs up for Thunderbird.
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Re: Migrate from Thunderbird to Outlook

Postposted on Sun Jun 17, 2012 11:18 am

What is the problem of using Thunderbird as your Contact management as well? And Sunbird/Lightning should serve your calendar needs. Then I believe you can find an app to sync to Thunderbird (I found MyPhoneExplorer on my first try).

If you don't have any qualms about your contact and calendar data on the cloud, then the easiest will still be using Google (or some other provider) to sync with your phone.
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Re: Migrate from Thunderbird to Outlook

Postposted on Sun Jun 17, 2012 1:44 pm

Outlook is a godawful email program unless you're using an Exchange backend. It's especially (and deliberately!) bad at IMAP, though POP3 is tolerable. Stick with Thunderbird and see if you can import your contacts from Outlook into it - you should just have to re-run the Import wizard, and with Lightning I'd bet it's not hard to import your calendar either.
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Re: Migrate from Thunderbird to Outlook

Postposted on Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:10 pm

Yeah, my only recommendation to solve your problem in the terms you stated was to run an Exchange backend, either via a home server or a shared host. If you're not willing to do that, I'd consider using a different front-end (and synch mechanism) instead.
I personally hate Thunderbird's default UI, but if you're willing to futz with it you can customize things to a remarkable extent. Of course Outlook has its own set of issues (especially in the post-Ribbon era) but some people definitely prefer it, but that's often colored by how well it works when hooked up to Exchange. It's much more a corporate / workgroup tool (especially when teamed with SharePoint) and much less suited to generic IMAP/POP3 internet mail.
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Re: Migrate from Thunderbird to Outlook

Postposted on Sun Jun 17, 2012 9:26 pm

Even with an Exchange back-end you can run into the PST issues I mentioned if your Exchange admin sets a ridiculously low per-user size limit, thereby forcing everyone to use PST files to archive stuff. This is the situation we are in at work.

Of course if you are admining your own Exchange server this isn't an issue...
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Re: Migrate from Thunderbird to Outlook

Postposted on Sun Jun 17, 2012 11:08 pm

Wow. lots of votes against outlook!

I'm not a super fan of outlook. The reason I had prefered thunderbird in the far past and have stuck with it so long, is becuase it can have a couple different computers sharing the mbox files at the same time. I'm not sure how authorized this is, but it seems to work (although I haven't tested in in some time). It used to be that my wife would want to do email, while I was working on primary desktop. She could access the thunderbird mail folders from the install on another computer on the network and have full access. there was no need to try and sync after she was done etc.

But recently, I've been having trouble with thunderbird downloading emails from my pop3 accoutn. I have absolutely no idea why, and it has never happened before (using thunderbird since 1999). But, right now there are about 15 emails over the past couple weeks that will not download to the thunderbird client. They are sitting there on the server, and I can see them through the telus webmail application. I have received them on my phone, and once I set up the account on Outlook last week, they showed up there as well. So, I have a thunderbird install that will download emails before and after the identified 'missing' messages, but will not collect the ones I'm describing.

I've also had some other issues, possibly associated. The little 'star' indicator will be on the inbox, suggesting that there are new emails to download. I'll click on 'check messages', and nothing shows up. There's nothing in the junk folder, nothing in the inbox, nothing in the trash. So, there is definitely some miscommunication going on. All the settings are correct (and the same as on my phone and with outlook) yet it just doesn't seem to be working properly. I thought this was as good a time as any to do the migration to outlook... but maybe I should just try to diagnose the problem?

I do appreciate the positive points about thunderbird, especially the ones about the size of incremental backups. I have 13 yrs of emails stored in the system, but only the last 2 are in my active inbox/sent folders. So no need to sync all the old stuff with the notebook etc.

I'm going to uninstall the thunderbird client and try it again. Maybe it will work better if I set everything up again from scratch.
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Re: Migrate from Thunderbird to Outlook

Postposted on Sun Jun 17, 2012 11:43 pm

AFAIK your "mbox sharing" should be OK as long as you never have two copies of Thunderbird on different computers accessing the same files at the same time. But having the same files open on two systems at once is probably risky.

I've seen the issue regarding "stuck" messages too, but not in a couple of years; it may be a bad interaction between Thunderbird and specific POP server software (not sure). Thunderbird isn't perfect. But on balance, I'd say I've seen more flaky behavior from Outlook. (Or as one of my co-workers likes to call it, Lookout... :lol:)
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Re: Migrate from Thunderbird to Outlook

Postposted on Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:42 pm

I've tried re-installing and setting up the accounts from scratch. This time I saw the messages downloaded, and then in a short flash a whole number of them were labelled 'junk' (flame icon) and then they disappeared. I cannot find them anywhere, although the message at the bottom of the window stated something like "43 messages of 125 moved to junk folder". Unfortunately, my junk folder contains NOTHING. So, I can't 'undo' the adaptive filter by teaching it the correct messages to identify as junk.

So... I deleted and then reset the account. This time I turned off the adaptive junk filter and all my messages has downloaded and stayed where they should be. This is good. But...with the adaptive junk setting off. How do I 'train' it to pick up new junk? Why are the originally 'junked' messages showing up in my trash or junk folders. I do not have anything set to delete identified junk.
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Re: Migrate from Thunderbird to Outlook

Postposted on Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:49 pm

Check the size of your T-bird mbox files. It's got a bad habit of silently discarding new mails if the file gets above 2GB (older pre-3.x versions) or 4GB (3.x to ?).

As to accessing email from two or more computers? Seriously. That's what IMAP is for, or webmail.
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Re: Migrate from Thunderbird to Outlook

Postposted on Mon Jun 18, 2012 1:09 pm

Disco wrote:But recently, I've been having trouble with thunderbird downloading emails from my pop3 accoutn. I have absolutely no idea why, and it has never happened before (using thunderbird since 1999). But, right now there are about 15 emails over the past couple weeks that will not download to the thunderbird client. They are sitting there on the server, and I can see them through the telus webmail application.


I'm having the same issue with Thunderbird on Ubuntu 10.04LTS right now. POP mail just sits there and Thunderbird doesn't even ask for a password. Connecting with no effect. This is with the latest apt update from Thunderbird stable repos.

The mail downloads if I launch it with the same account from Windows. I have shared the mail folder on NAS.

bthylafh wrote:As to accessing email from two or more computers? Seriously. That's what IMAP is for, or webmail.


It's not always available or feasible, and not even remotely secure unless you own the server. I have my mail provider in cloud, and I don't really want to store all bulk of email there forever. Because such scenario can lead to super awful stuff - http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/arc ... _page=true I really recommend reading the article, even though it's very long, but it's super scary and super real, makes you reconsider most of your practices.

So Thunderbird with POP3 and profile stored in NAS location is super solution IMHO. You have full control over security of the location, including encryption if you want to. And the folder is available from all PCs, or from single PC while dual/triple/quad-booting. Works like a charm. Also, Thunderbird uses .lock files, so you won't be able to access and corrupt the same profile from multiple PCs at the same time. While one Thunderbird has the profile locked, all others are denied. I love the setup.
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Re: Migrate from Thunderbird to Outlook

Postposted on Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:06 pm

bthylafh wrote:As to accessing email from two or more computers? Seriously. That's what IMAP is for, or webmail.


Regarding IMAP, I really don't like the webmail type of interface and the complete lack of access if the network is down. I am often working outside of net access on my laptop, and I just have my mbox folders synced with the desktop. So, when I take the notebook somewhere I have access to all my up to day email/attachement. If there is something really recent, then I can access it with my phone.

My primary service provider only supplies 100MB of storage for IMAP accounts. So, it's pretty much useless to me for keeping any older email around. Do note that I do have gmail and hotmail accounts, but I use those for differnt purposes than my work email.
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Re: Migrate from Thunderbird to Outlook

Postposted on Tue Jun 19, 2012 8:35 pm

I made a typo that must have been a bit confusing.

Disco wrote:So... I deleted and then reset the account. This time I turned off the adaptive junk filter and all my messages has downloaded and stayed where they should be. This is good. But...with the adaptive junk setting off. How do I 'train' it to pick up new junk? Why are the originally 'junked' messages showing up in my trash or junk folders. I do not have anything set to delete identified junk.


What I meant to say is that all these 'junked' messages are disappearing and NOT in either the junk or trash folders. And I can't seem to turn the automatic junk removal off. I uncheck the box, and go to another account. Then immediately go back to the junk setting page and the box is 'ticked' again. The option will not stay 'unchecked'. I just saw a few emails disappear again. Is there a means of preventing this automatic junking in the registry or something?
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Re: Migrate from Thunderbird to Outlook

Postposted on Sat Apr 12, 2014 3:29 pm

I suggest mutt, much better than Thunderbird or Outlook. I was FORCED to use Outlook on my Mac or on my Windows VM at work and I swear I know of no other application that's anywhere that unstable that people use daily. I get an average of 1 crash a day. Half the time you close it and it says running taking a core to 100% utilization. Only nice thing is I convinced them to turned IMAPS back on and now I can just use mutt. Actually had mutt open on my home system for 6months, not a single crash or other problem. :)
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Re: Migrate from Thunderbird to Outlook

Postposted on Sat Apr 12, 2014 3:59 pm

I don't get all he anti-Outlook grumpiness. It's worked great for me since it came out way back when. Worrying about getting date back out of it makes no sense. There are two extremely rich APIs to choose from, MAPI and the Outlook Object Model. And if you'd like to dork around with the pst file, which I wouldn't recommend, the format is fully documented here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library ... 12%29.aspx
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Re: Migrate from Thunderbird to Outlook

Postposted on Sat Apr 12, 2014 6:32 pm

keltor wrote:I suggest mutt, much better than Thunderbird or Outlook. I was FORCED to use Outlook on my Mac or on my Windows VM at work and I swear I know of no other application that's anywhere that unstable that people use daily. I get an average of 1 crash a day. Half the time you close it and it says running taking a core to 100% utilization. Only nice thing is I convinced them to turned IMAPS back on and now I can just use mutt. Actually had mutt open on my home system for 6months, not a single crash or other problem. :)


Why did you necro a 2-year-old thread for this? :-?
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Re: Migrate from Thunderbird to Outlook

Postposted on Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:25 pm

I can't make up my mind if I like Australis or I don't.
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