How do I backup Thunderbird mail and profile under Linux?

Q.I’m Ubuntu Linux user and I’d like to keep backup of my email and mail settings. How do I backup Thunderbird mail and profile under any Linux distribution?

A. Thunderbird is simple to use and powerful email client with following features:
=> Safe, fast, and easy email

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=> Intelligent spam filters

=> Quick message search

=> Customizable views etc

Mozilla thunderbird stores your email and profile setting in a special directory called ~/.thunderbird i.e. /home/you/.thunderbird/ or ~/.thunderbird directory. All you have to do is backup this directory.

Task: Backup Thunderbird mail and profile

You need to backup thunderbird mail and profile to tape drive, use:
$ tar zcvf /dev/st0 /home/you/.mozilla-thunderbird/
To backup files to USP pen driver mounted at /media/disk, enter
$ cp -avr /home/you/.thunderbird/ /media/disk
You need to backup thunderbird mail and profile to a /backup directory:
# tar zcvf /backup/email-vivek-22jan2007.tar.gz /home/vivek/.thunderbird/

You can copy /backup/email-vivek-22jan2007.tar.gz file to a CD/DVD or USB pen.

Task: Restore Thunderbird mail and profile

Make sure Thunderbird is not running. Simply copy backup files from tape, USB pen or CD to your /home/you/.mozilla-thunderbird/ directory:
$ tar –zxvf /backup/email-vivek-22jan2007.tar.gz -C /home/vivek

Or just copy all files from USB pen/CD to ~/.thunderbird/ directory.

A note for Windows XP/2003/Vista User

MozBackup is a simple utility for creating backups of Mozilla Firefox, Mozilla Thunderbird, SeaMonkey, Mozilla Suite and Netscape profiles.

This program is freeware and works on Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/XP/2003 only. No Linux/UNIX version exists.

It allows you to backup and restore bookmarks, mail, contacts, history, extensions, cache etc. It’s an easy way to do Firefox backup, Thunderbird backup. You can download this software here.

You can also follow these instructions – Move an existing profile or restore a backed up profile for Windows.

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I'm Vivek Gite, and I write about Linux, macOS, Unix, IT, programming, infosec, and open source. Subscribe to my RSS feed or email newsletter for updates.

16 comments… add one
  • Dave May 28, 2011 @ 18:06

    Good instructions, been looking for something like this for a long time. Thanks.

  • Viktor Jun 10, 2011 @ 20:54

    Thanks!!!!

  • amit Jul 5, 2013 @ 6:06

    how can i store my all mails of thunderbird in to my system…..iwant to save all mails sapretly

  • amit Jul 5, 2013 @ 6:07

    try to give me graphical method in linux

  • Earl Aug 8, 2016 @ 13:30

    Thunderbird Archive files are stored elsewhere on the disk.
    Where, and why? I have no Idea.

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