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privacy alert(?): thunderbird full-empty Inbox weirdness

3 replies [Last post]
tbuitenh's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-21

I just ran a clamav scan for fun, and it found a worm in my thunderbird inbox (.thunderbird/SOMETHINGRANDOM.default/Mail/Local Folders/Inbox). That was really surprising because my inbox was empty!
I did a less .thunderbird/.../Inbox and found 34M of messages I had deleted long ago or moved to other folders.

You can get rid of this junk by simply stopping thunderbird, then going into the CLI or your favourite file manager, and deleting Inbox, Inbox.msf and Inbox.sbd, then starting thunderbird again which will make a new empty inbox for you. Deleting these files while thunderbird is running might work too, but it seems like a bad idea to me.

As far as I can tell, all mail that was moved to other folders is in those folders too, but I don't guarantee that. Make backups. YMMV.

I put "privacy" in the subject because deleted emails are supposed to be deleted (after emptying the trash). Of course, if you want real privacy, you should use GPG (hint: enigmail thunderbird extension). Merely deleting files and emails doesn't protect you from these being undeleted. Use an encrypted filesystem too, if you care.

tbuitenh's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-21

This appears to be a thunderbird bug:
https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=177074

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04

Well if it's in bugzilla it ought to be fixed by the next release.

I don't use Thunderbird though. Only rarely for my secondary email address I use sylpheed now, but for my primary mail I use libervis webmail. Smiling

tbuitenh's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-21

It's not a bug but a feature. Mail is simply never really deleted so you can always undelete it... If you want to get rid of junk, right click on a folder and select "compact this folder". Other mail programs do this automatically every once in a while, thunderbird is more cautious.

You can use the XPunge extension to compact all your folders at once.

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