Dropbox Causes Duplicate Folders In Mozilla Thunderbird


I have been busy migrating from Windows 7 RC to full retail version of Windows 7. It has taken over 1.5 full days (which includes half a day formatting a brand new 1TB hard drive).

During the course of putting things back onto my speedy fresh install I found a problem when I started up Thunderbird. There were duplicate system folders such as Local Inbox, Sent box, etc. Because they are system folders there is no option to delete. It had been a while since I started it back up from my old install and got some emails in only one of the 2 Inboxes.

After a while I found the problem. It was Dropbox and the way it handles conflicted files / folders.


Take a back up of the profile which contains everything for a user. This includes emails, settings and more. To find where the user profile is go to Tools > Account Settings.

For each account listed click on the Server Settings and at the bottom on the right side of the window there is a textbox with the label Local directory: Copy the directory after ~\Profiles\. Make sure Thunderbird is not running before a copy is taken.

Do not forget to backup the Local Folders too. Select Local Folders and there is a textbox with the same label.

Removing Duplicate Folders

Close Mozilla Thunderbird if it’s still open. Inside the profiles directory there is a folder called Mail. This is where each email account has it’s own folder and there is also the local folder where emails are stored on the computer. Go into each of those folders and look for files or folders where it has the computer name and the description conflicted copy and a date stamp. Check which copy is the latest version (and where the back up may come in handy) using date time stamp of the file, size of the file and the conflict date stamp. Delete the duplicate or remove the original and rename the conflicted file exactly the same as the original file.


A slight pain but it’s worth it if it allows me to access my email offline on multiple computers.

About Danny

I.T software professional always studying and applying the knowledge gained and one way of doing this is to blog. Danny also has participates in a part time project called Energy@Home [http://code.google.com/p/energyathome/] for monitoring energy usage on a premise. Dedicated to I.T since studying pure Information Technology since the age of 16, Danny Tsang working in the field that he has aimed for since leaving school. View all posts by Danny → This entry was posted in Software and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Dropbox Causes Duplicate Folders In Mozilla Thunderbird

  1. kirschbombe says:

    I’m having the same problem using Dropbox to sync my Thunderbird profiles. I did the same thing as you (deleting the older file) but new conflicting folders keep appearing — do you have to keep repeating the process?

    • Danny says:

      No but I do find it happens more when 2 computers are sync’ing at the same time especially when one hasn’t been sync’d in a while or if a computer takes particularly long to sync.

      I also suspect if you “Enable LAN Sync” helps improve the sync times and decrease the conflicted files (Right click on Dropbox icon in the notification area > Preferences)

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