Back up and migrate a Thunderbird profile and folders

The ability to migrate Mozilla Thunderbird profiles makes the email client an even more flexible tool for power email users.

Backing up a profile

You don’t need anything special to back up Thunderbird profiles; the most important thing is for you to know the location of your profile folder. The profile folder will be named a random string of characters and will be housed in a different location depending upon the platform.

  • Linux: ~/.thunderbird/
  • Windows 7: C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles
  • Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\
  • Mac: /Users/username/Library/Thunderbird/Profiles

Importing a new profile

You might think you could just dump the contents of the new profile into the correct folder, but that method doesn’t work. You must use the Thunderbird Profile Manager to import the profiles. This way you get the mail account set up, and you also get all of the folders and email associated with those accounts.

To fire up the Thunderbird Profile Manager, you have to run Thunderbird from the command line. This will depend upon your platform, but the gist of the command is thunderbird -profilemanager. If you’re using Windows, you’ll run thunderbird.exe -profilemanager.

When the Profile Manager window opens, click the Create Profile button.