How to Recover Deleted Emails after the Compaction Process in Outlook Express 6.0

Updated October 6, 2023

In Outlook Express, the compaction feature is used to compress the DBX files. By doing this, it serves few purposes such as speeding up the work in Outlook Express, reducing the size of the DBX files, etc. However, the picture is not that rosy every time. Sometimes, some or all of the emails may get deleted while the compaction process. In such cases, you should use internal methods to recover deleted emails. If the emails are not recovered using these methods, then you should use a third-party deleted email recovery software to do so.

Consider a scenario wherein you are using Outlook Express 6.0 with Service Pack 2 in a Windows XP system. When you were closing Outlook Express, a message pops up that is:

“To free up disk space, Outlook Express can compact messages. This may take up to a few minutes…”


When you restart Outlook Express, you find that all the emails are missing.


The root cause of such behavior is that the Outlook Express folders got corrupt while they were getting compacted. This could have happened if any of the following conditions was true:

  • Outlook Express was closed while one of the DBX files was getting compacted.
  • The compaction process was stopped.
  • You tend to leave Outlook Express in an idle mode for long periods.
  • The size of the DBX files is very large.


To recover deleted emails, you should perform the following steps:

  • Check Recycle Bin. There should be a mail_folder_name.bak file where mail_folder_name corresponds to the name of the respective folder. For example, if the folder is inbox, then the file should be inbox.bak.
  • Restore each such BAK file to its original location.
  • Navigate to the location where the BAK file was originally located.
  • Change the extension of each file from BAK to DBX.
  • Start Outlook Express and check that the problem would be resolved by now.

However, if you are still not able to recover deleted emails, then you should use a third-party software to do so.

Stellar Phoenix Deleted Email Recovery is a a very useful software that is able to recover deleted emails from Outlook Express 5.x and 6.0. In addition, it works on MS Outlook 2007, 2000, 2003, 2007, and 2010. This deleted email recovery tool preserves various components during the email recovery such as emails, tasks, journals, contacts, calendar items, etc. In addition, this deleted email recovery utility restores the formatting of the RTF and HTML messages. It is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Server 2003, and 2000.


  • David Wilikinson

    when I go to change the file inbox.bak to inbox.DBX, I receive a message stating that if I do that, the file maynot be usable. Is this a concern?

  • brown wise

    Hello Axel,

    I have been using outlook express since a long time. I had faced this problem in last month but could not find a solution for the same. In the last i have to formatted my pc.

    thanks for writing this article and i hope it would help to all the users of outlook express.

    brown wise

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