Sunday, May 15, 2005

Mozilla Thunderbird Inbox Size Limit

I did an emergency site visit yesterday to a client who I migrated over to Thunderbird last month from Outlook Express. He called me Friday explaining that when he tried to POP down his mail, he got a dialog box saying that Thunderbird was unable to write to his inbox.

It turns out that there is a known bug/issue in Thunderbirdbird when the Inbox reaches 2 GB in size, at least when running on XP. Even after compacting the Inbox three times and moving a lot of mail out of it to other folders, the actual Inbox file didn't shrink when viewed in Windows Explorer, and I wound up having to delete it and the associated index file.

To avoid running afoul of this issue, you should organize your mail. Create folders for your saved messages not within the Inbox folder, but rather, under the Local Folders hierarchy. Also, saving file attachments to your hard drive rather than keeping them within email will go a long way to keeping the size of your email folders down.


Dr Prepaid said...

This is a year after the fact. But I had the same problem yesterday. I too tried compacting the inbox folder multiple times to no avail. Finally, I created subfolders for the account outside the specific account. I then moved files to those subfolders out of the inbox, then after compacting the inbox, the size went below 2 gig.

The 33King Network said...

thank you for being the first link on google for "thunderbird inbox size limit"

And yes...

Keep your inboxes clean!

I Hate Your Computer

NostradamusZen said...

Mine is at 5GB - I was considering deleting the whole thing, but then I guess T-Bird would just start downloading all over again. I came across this post while looking (and hoping) for a link to "Limit thunderbird to downloading the most recent 30 days' mail".

No luck :( - and that 5GB has only got me up to May 2008.

OK - emptied my 'deleted' folder and got it down to 40Mb - now when I 'get mail', it gets 3 or 4 mails, but nothing appears in the inbox - all I can say is: 'WTF?!'

ferdna said...

is this 2GB limitation on the Thunderbird release?

Dave Markowitz said...


I'm not sure. I ran into this issue 4 years ago and I've advised the people who I do work for to keep their mailbox sizes under 2GB ever since, to avoid encountering the issue again.

ferdna said...

i have tested thunderbird (20090812)... and you can have more than 2 GB in inbox size.

Ben said...



Thunderbird keeps imap emails on Ip server.

If you go into your IP webmail and delete , you also delete in your inbox.


Use or create a local folder.
Thunderbird usually creates this automatically when you create account

Go into tools- account settings and set Local folder for sent copies and anything else you want.

Incoming E- mails will still be shown in xx@…com , and will be on ip mail server.

Move all your xx@… com inbox mail into local folder inbox.

"Sent", into local folder "Sent" folder etc

takes a while as you have to do by hand.
IE: drag e-mails from Inbox, private Folder Sent etc in xx@… com to local folder,Inbox , Sent or private folder

Make sure it is all there,

Go into webmail and delete and purge, do a few first, and then go back to local folder and make sure nothing is lost,

Then, delete the Inbox, Private folders Sent , Junk and Trash files making sure you purge after deleting,

Move new messages you want to keep, into local folder and delete from xx@… and purge whenever you need to clear space

Most IP’s have a purge facility, delete does not always get rid of space, so it is advised to purge on webmail

One more thing to stop confussion,
To see your quota on your ip server
highlight your xx@..... Com inbox
click edit
scroll down to and click "folder properties "
Click on "Quota"
This shows how much of the usual 10mg of alloted space you have used.
Once you have cleaned all the files it should be very low.