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Running from a USB drive - Thunderbird

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-:''This article was written for roaming users with a USB drive. However, you can also use the same syntax to run a profile on your desktop that that the [[Profile Manager]] doesn't know about, even without a USB drive.'' +Beginning with version 0.7, Thunderbird can be run from a USB memory stick or other portable drive. In order to do this, you need to install Thunderbird (the application itself) on the USB drive, create a [[profile folder | profile]] on the USB drive, and launch Thunderbird using the correct parameters so that it can find the profile on the USB drive.
-Beginning with version 0.7, Thunderbird can now be run from a USB memory stick. In order to do this, you need to install Thunderbird (the application itself) on the USB stick, create a [[profile folder | profile]] on the USB stick, and launch Thunderbird using the correct parameters so that it can find the profile on the USB stick. +'''It is important to chose a fast USB drive''', because USB drives are slow compared to a hard disk. The USB 2.0 specification supports a theoretical peak transfer rate of 60MBs. However, in reality a generic drive might support only 2MBs reading or writing while a fast drive might support 30MBs read and 10MBs write. If the speed rating is listed as 150x, 200x etc. it is comparing it to the original rotational speed of a CD player. 1X is 150KBs .
-==Startup command==+This article was originally written for roving Thunderbird users, who take a USB drive from PC to PC. However, it can also be used by somebody who has installed Thunderbird on a hard disk and wants to run Thunderbird using a -profile "path" command line argument to specify the profiles location. This can be useful if you don't know whether your profile was corrupt or you had been running into problems with a bad profiles.ini file.
-In short, you need to launch Thunderbird using the ''-profile "path"'' [[command line arguments |command line argument]], where "path" is the location of the profile you want to use. The path should be in quote marks if it includes any spaces. For example, on Windows if the Thunderbird program is installed on drive F in a folder called "Mozilla Thunderbird" and your profile is located in a folder called "My TB profile", you would use this syntax:+==Portable Thunderbird==
 +For Windows users, the easiest way to do all this is with [http://portableapps.com/apps/internet/email/portable_thunderbird Portable Thunderbird], which is an official build of Thunderbird that has been repackaged "as a complete, removable drive-friendly email client." One of its key features is a special launcher to make your Thunderbird extensions portable. To install, just download the ZIP file and unzip it anywhere on your USB drive.
 + 
 +You can [http://portableapps.com/support/thunderbird_portable#upgrading upgrade Portable Thunderbird] by installing a new version over the old one. This won't destroy any of your data (your profile) since its stored in a separate directory.
 + 
 +The most common mistake in using Portable Thunderbird is to run Portable Thunderbird, and then pin the Thunderbird icon to the taskbar. That typically pins Thunderbird.exe instead of the Portable Thunderbird launcher, and strange things such as installing a profile on your boot drive can happen. See [https://portableapps.com/support/portable_app#using Using a Portable App] for how to avoid that.
 + 
 +There is only a Windows version of Portable Thunderbird . However, the application officially supports running it under Linux, Unix, BSD, etc via Wine and with OS X via CrossOver, Wineskin, WineBottler, or PlayOnMac.
 + 
 +==''-profile "path"'' command line argument==
 + 
 +Even without Portable Thunderbird, it is fairly easy to run Thunderbird from a portable USB drive. The key is to launch Thunderbird using the ''-profile "path"'' [[command line arguments |command line argument]], where "path" is the location of the profile you want to use. The path should be in quote marks if it includes any spaces. For example, on Windows if the Thunderbird program is installed on drive F in a folder called "Mozilla Thunderbird" and your profile is located in a folder called "My TB profile", you would use this syntax:
"F:\Mozilla Thunderbird\thunderbird.exe" -profile "F:\My TB profile" "F:\Mozilla Thunderbird\thunderbird.exe" -profile "F:\My TB profile"
-You can launch Thunderbird this way using a command prompt, a shortcut, a batch file, or a JScript (.js) file. See this [http://forums.mozillazine.org/viewtopic.php?t=87118 MozillaZine forum thread] for further information.+You can launch Thunderbird this way using a command prompt, a shortcut, a batch file, or a JScript (.js) file. See this [http://forums.mozillazine.org/viewtopic.php?t=87118 MozillaZine forum thread] for further information and examples.
-The key difference between setting up and running Thunderbird in this way and doing so in the "normal" way is that Thunderbird normally keeps track of your profile(s) by accessing a file stored on the computer's boot drive ("registry.dat" and/or "profiles.ini"). For Thunderbird to be used effectively on a USB stick, in a completely portable mode, it obviously cannot rely upon a file stored on one computer's boot drive in this way. The ''-profile "path"'' syntax thus provides Thunderbird with a way to find your profile without relying on information normally stored on the boot drive.+The key difference between setting up and running Thunderbird in this way and doing so in the "normal" way is that Thunderbird's [[Profile Manager]] normally keeps track of your profile(s) using a [[profiles.ini]] file stored on the computer's boot drive. For Thunderbird to be used effectively on a USB stick, in a completely portable mode, it obviously cannot rely upon a file stored on one computer's boot drive in this way. The ''-profile "path"'' syntax thus provides Thunderbird with a way to find your profile without relying on information normally stored on the boot drive.
-==Portable Thunderbird (Windows only)==+Note that you can also use the same syntax, even without a USB drive, to run a profile on your computer that the Profile Manager doesn't know about. This can be useful, for instance, if your profiles.ini file happens to get corrupted or accidentally deleted but the profile itself is intact. It would also be useful for roaming users whose profile was on a file share.
-For Windows users there is [http://johnhaller.com/jh/mozilla/portable_thunderbird/ Portable Thunderbird], an official build of Thunderbird that has been repackaged "as a complete, removable drive-friendly email client." One of its key features is a special launcher to make your Thunderbird extensions portable. To install, all you need to do is download the ZIP file and unzip it to the root directory your USB drive.+
==Compacting folders== ==Compacting folders==
-If you set up Thunderbird to store messages on a USB stick, make sure to [[Thunderbird : Tips : Compacting Folders | compact folders]] periodically. Otherwise, you may find that your mail files on the USB stick are filling up with deleted messages that have not actually been erased from the mail files. Compacting folders will keep the size of your mail files to a minimum.+Compacting is automatic in current versions of Thunderbird. (If you set up Thunderbird to store messages on a USB stick, make sure to [[Thunderbird : Tips : Compacting Folders | compact folders]] periodically. Otherwise, you may find that your mail files on the USB stick are filling up with deleted messages that have not actually been erased from the mail files. Compacting folders will keep the size of your mail files to a minimum.)
 + 
 +==See also==
 +* [[Bypassing the Profile Manager]]
 +* [[Email clients based on Thunderbird]]
 +* [[Move a profile to Portable Thunderbird]]
 +==External links==
 +*[http://forums.mozillazine.org/viewtopic.php?f=39&t=3048842 Portable Thunderbird questions] thread about the need to use the Portable Thunderbird launcher to avoid it running Thunderbird.exe instead.
 +*[http://portableapps.com/apps/internet/email/portable_thunderbird Portable Thunderbird section at PortableApps web site]
 +*[http://osxportableapps.sourceforge.net/ OSX Portable Apps] web site on sourceforge.net
 +*[https://framakey.org Framakey] A French community web sites framework for running open source software on a USB drive. It supports Thunderbird. There used to also be a beta version of that web site in English but it disappeared.
 +*[http://mobility.shaneland.co.uk/ Secure Mobile Launcher] A supposedly more secure launcher from "Mobility Project".
 +* [http://www.theplaceforitall.com/portablethunderbird/ Cross platform script for Portable Thunderbird.] Supposedly it lets you use Portable Thunderbird (and the same profile) for both Windows and OSX. However, it only supports Thunderbird 1.5 and the project has been archived.
-[[Category:Thunderbird]]+[[Category:Installation and update (Thunderbird)]]
 +[[Category:Configuration (Thunderbird)]]

Current revision

Beginning with version 0.7, Thunderbird can be run from a USB memory stick or other portable drive. In order to do this, you need to install Thunderbird (the application itself) on the USB drive, create a profile on the USB drive, and launch Thunderbird using the correct parameters so that it can find the profile on the USB drive.

It is important to chose a fast USB drive, because USB drives are slow compared to a hard disk. The USB 2.0 specification supports a theoretical peak transfer rate of 60MBs. However, in reality a generic drive might support only 2MBs reading or writing while a fast drive might support 30MBs read and 10MBs write. If the speed rating is listed as 150x, 200x etc. it is comparing it to the original rotational speed of a CD player. 1X is 150KBs .

This article was originally written for roving Thunderbird users, who take a USB drive from PC to PC. However, it can also be used by somebody who has installed Thunderbird on a hard disk and wants to run Thunderbird using a -profile "path" command line argument to specify the profiles location. This can be useful if you don't know whether your profile was corrupt or you had been running into problems with a bad profiles.ini file.

Contents

Portable Thunderbird

For Windows users, the easiest way to do all this is with Portable Thunderbird, which is an official build of Thunderbird that has been repackaged "as a complete, removable drive-friendly email client." One of its key features is a special launcher to make your Thunderbird extensions portable. To install, just download the ZIP file and unzip it anywhere on your USB drive.

You can upgrade Portable Thunderbird by installing a new version over the old one. This won't destroy any of your data (your profile) since its stored in a separate directory.

The most common mistake in using Portable Thunderbird is to run Portable Thunderbird, and then pin the Thunderbird icon to the taskbar. That typically pins Thunderbird.exe instead of the Portable Thunderbird launcher, and strange things such as installing a profile on your boot drive can happen. See Using a Portable App for how to avoid that.

There is only a Windows version of Portable Thunderbird . However, the application officially supports running it under Linux, Unix, BSD, etc via Wine and with OS X via CrossOver, Wineskin, WineBottler, or PlayOnMac.

-profile "path" command line argument

Even without Portable Thunderbird, it is fairly easy to run Thunderbird from a portable USB drive. The key is to launch Thunderbird using the -profile "path" command line argument, where "path" is the location of the profile you want to use. The path should be in quote marks if it includes any spaces. For example, on Windows if the Thunderbird program is installed on drive F in a folder called "Mozilla Thunderbird" and your profile is located in a folder called "My TB profile", you would use this syntax:

"F:\Mozilla Thunderbird\thunderbird.exe" -profile "F:\My TB profile"

You can launch Thunderbird this way using a command prompt, a shortcut, a batch file, or a JScript (.js) file. See this MozillaZine forum thread for further information and examples.

The key difference between setting up and running Thunderbird in this way and doing so in the "normal" way is that Thunderbird's Profile Manager normally keeps track of your profile(s) using a profiles.ini file stored on the computer's boot drive. For Thunderbird to be used effectively on a USB stick, in a completely portable mode, it obviously cannot rely upon a file stored on one computer's boot drive in this way. The -profile "path" syntax thus provides Thunderbird with a way to find your profile without relying on information normally stored on the boot drive.

Note that you can also use the same syntax, even without a USB drive, to run a profile on your computer that the Profile Manager doesn't know about. This can be useful, for instance, if your profiles.ini file happens to get corrupted or accidentally deleted but the profile itself is intact. It would also be useful for roaming users whose profile was on a file share.

Compacting folders

Compacting is automatic in current versions of Thunderbird. (If you set up Thunderbird to store messages on a USB stick, make sure to compact folders periodically. Otherwise, you may find that your mail files on the USB stick are filling up with deleted messages that have not actually been erased from the mail files. Compacting folders will keep the size of your mail files to a minimum.)

See also

External links