Thunderbird POP3 backup folder

I am running Thunderbird 91.5.0. on POP3 on two identical operating systems, i.e. Ubuntu 20.04, the one a desktop and the other a laptop. When we travel, I transfer my .thunderbird profile folder to my laptop so I can access my mails, diary etc., however, since the latest Thunderbird upgrade to 91.5.0 the laptop no longer recognises the .thunderbird profile generated on the desktop computer.

The problem started when the laptop installation was still running on the old Thunderbird version, so I hoped and assumed that if I upgrade to the same 91.5.0 version on the laptop, the problem will be solved, but that is unfortunately not the case.

When I copy the .thunderbird file to my external drive, there are some files that cannot be copied. The error message reads “Error while copying ‘lock’” and “Filesystem does not support symbolic links” - Could this be the reason and what can I do to resolve the issue?

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I cannot help with your particular problem, but have a question instead:
Do you have a special need to use POP3 over SMTP?
Just curious, because I have my mail accounts with (as of now) four seperate devices (one being my Android phone) running and have access to all my mails without any configuration on my side.


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You can still use that profile but you will have to tell Thunderbird which one to use.
If you go to tbird right click on the top bar and tell it to add menu bar the under the help tab go More troubleshooting information scroll down the window that comes up and select profiles. This is after you have copied the .thunderbird file over from the Desktop. the profile you want to use is usually the first one in the list. click on that and tell it to launch in a new browser. It should use your profile from the Desktop from then on. Good luck.

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Dave this worked beautifully, Many, many thanks for the clear and very effective help.

Hi Fast.Edi, please see Dave’s answer and my reply. However, to answer your questions, the reasons why I prefer POP3 to IMAP are:

  1. when using IMAP I need to be online to read my mails, access my calendars etc., so if I need something and the Internet is off, I cannot find it.
  2. Maybe just an old fashioned quirk but I prefer to have my mails and related stuff on my machine and not somewhere in a cloud.
    Thank you for your input. Any further suggestions are welcome.

Your welcome, enjoy! :slight_smile:

Good to hear that you have a solution for your question.

From my experience, this is not necessary.
Correct me, if I’m mistaken here, but my mails are all in TB, if online or not.

That interests me, so all folders, subfolders, calendars etc are available even offline? Something must have changed since I tried, was years ago. I will investigate.

Yes. As of my experience, I have no need to be online just to read old (already received/sent) mails. They are on my machine.
As I don’t use calendars in TB, I can’t tell but would assume it works the same way…

Maybe you can start here with the information…

You are right, that your mails remain on the server as long as you don’t delete them. But this is imho a nice advantage, because, you know, when using several clients on different machines.