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Daylight savings time

From MozillaZine Knowledge Base

This article was written for Thunderbird but also applies to Mozilla Suite / SeaMonkey (though some menu sequences may differ).

A bug in Mozilla Mail and Thunderbird can cause a variety of problems to occur when your computer’s clock changes due to daylight savings time (DST) or switching time zones. You may be experiencing this bug if you see any of these problems:

  • The “Building summary file for [folder name]” message appears for most folders
  • It takes a long time for Thunderbird to load the Inbox folder
  • Most messages in folders are marked as unread
  • The new mail count is inaccurate
  • Deleted messages are resurrected
  • Sorting and View preferences are lost
  • Junk mail flags are lost on messages
  • Sending a message fails because a copy can’t be stored in the Sent folder
  • Worsening folder corruption
  • Various problems with your calendar

Contents

Cause

Metadata about your mail and your mail folders are stored in mail summary files (*.msf) in your profile folder. When your computer’s clock changes, some of the timestamps stored in the summary files may differ from the files’ timestamp. This causes all the data in the file to be considered invalid, and the loss of data manifests itself as the problems listed above.

Who is affected

This bug currently only affects profiles stored on FAT32 partitions (or file shares). In older versions of Thunderbird, other filesystems were affected as well.

Solution

Exit Thunderbird and delete all of the *.msf files for every account in your profile, including any accounts that seem to be unaffected. Thunderbird will build new *.msf files the next time you run it.

Note: Your messages are stored in text files with the folders name and no file extension, not in the *.msf files. For example, the messages for your inbox folder are stored in “inbox.”, not “inbox.msf”. You can verify this by opening the file with a text editor.

You may want to backup your profile beforehand in case you make a mistake.

Further troubleshooting

If you have problems with just your inbox folder afterwards, it may have been slightly corrupted beforehand. Try replacing the inbox folder.

If all else fails, you can create a new profile using the profile manager, move your address books to it, and then import your folders using the ImportExportTools extension.

Prevention

Set the preference mail.db_timestamp_leeway to a number greater than 3600 to allow Thunderbird to ignore variations in *.msf file timestamps caused by DST. This has been changed for Thunderbird 2.0. You can add it in 1.5 by:

  • Tools -> Options -> Advanced -> General -> Config Editor
  • Right click on a blank section of the main window
  • Select New and then Integer
  • Enter mail.db_timestamp_leeway and press OK
  • Enter 7200 and press OK
  • You should see mail.db_timestamp_leeway user set integer 7200
  • Close the window.

Compact all of your folders beforehand. This will physically delete any deleted messages, which are actually just marked for deletion and hidden until you compact the folder. That should prevent deleted messages from being resurrected and reduce the chance of a folder getting corrupted.

The “Keep it working” article describes several things you can do to minimize problems in general, such as automatically compacting your folders.

See also

External links