Windows 2000 to Win 98: problems copying eMail files

Although I am certainly no expert, I am helping a friend with his computer problems. He has a Windows 2000 system that keeps crashing. While not checking it out in any meaningful way, the fact that he gets constant “explore.exe” error messages plus other problems led me to recommend he just copy his data, wipe out the hard drive and start over from scratch, either with Win 2000 again or with Win 98.

He finally broke down and bought a new computer, and had them install Win 98 on it. He will then format the old computer’s drive (to start from scratch), reload the OS and give it to his kid. OK, so far, so good.

The problem I’m having deals with the copying of the files. He has an external Zip Drive, and we’re using that to copy his data files. I found all his Word files, that part was relatively easy (although it did take me a few minutes to realize that not all files were seen in windows explorer at once - we had to log in as each different user - him, his wife, and his kid - to copy them all, and it was not until trying to deal with the problem I’ve not related yet that I tried to log in as “Administrator” and thus be able to see all files at once).

I think that will suffice for the set up. The problem is trying to copy his eMail files. I can’t for the life of me find the eMail files. I can’t even find the eMail program!

He is using Microsoft Outlook. I don’t use Outlook myself, which may contribute to my inability to find its files. He and his wife have a whole bunch 'O email in a whole bunch 'O eMail folders, each one’s only available (in Outlook) of course when they have logged in. I have looked through windows explorer and cannot find any eMail files or folders. I used the “Search” tool to find eMail folders he uses, but the search comes up empty. He claims to use (and he seems to be right when we open the program) the full copy of Outlook (that comes with the Microsoft Office 2000 suite) and not the Outlook Express that comes with the operating system, but the only folder I can find while using windows explorer is an Outlook Express folder (in the Program Files folder). I cannot find the Outlook program! There is an Office folder, but no Outlook in it.

I thought I’d get clever, and right-clicked on the Outlook icon to look at properties to see where the program was that it pointed to. What it says as the shortcut’s target is “Office 2000 Premium,” and that is greyed out. I’ve never seen the target of a shortcut greyed out before, so I don’t know what that means. I also cannot find any file or folder called Office 2000 Premium (or something very similar, I’m away from the machine in question as I write this). Oh yeah, I already logged in as Administrator so every users files would be visible, and in the windows explorer window options I set it to not hide any system files and not eliminate any file extension. I still can’t find it.

  1. Anyone know what I’m doing wrong, or what we need to do to move his eMail folders and eMails over to another computer? This involves finding the “files” to copy and where to copy them onto the new machine so that the new Outlook on the new machine will recognize them.

  2. On the new machine, which is running Win 98, we set it so there would be three different users, and each would have their own distinct desktop (but no different start menus). Will Outlook still operate as it did on the Win 2000 machine, so that when a user opens Outlook only that users eMail and eMail folders are available? What settings, etc. do we need to deal with to make this happen?

  3. I am assuming that constant “explorer.exe” error messages and other funky behavior may be the result of corrupted files and/or viruses, and this would not be easy at all to trouble shoot. I’ve also heard about problems when upgrading to Windows 2000 instead of installing it from scratch. Was I correct in recommending he just copy his data files (assuming we can figure out how to do that) and re-install the OS after formatting the entire drive? Or are there some other things we could try in this case that have a good chance of solving these problems with a less drastic solution?

I admit I haven’t looked for the Outlook files solutions in my Windows 2000 book, and I promise I’ll try to find it tomorrow - it’s really late now – but thanks in advance to anyone who might be able to point me in the right direction.

short answer for want of time:

search for all .pst files and back them up.

  1. As mentioned above, search for .pst and you’ll find 'em. They’ll be in a folder called something like C:\Documents and Settings*username\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook.

  2. I haven’t used 98 in a while - but I don’t think it’ll work the same. Instead you’ll have to set up 3 different “profiles” on the outlook client, and whenever someone opens it up they’ll have to select their profile from the list. Another note: they can password protect their PST is privacy is a concern.

  3. Like most computer dorks, I reformat just for kicks once in a while, so I’m not sure I’m the best person to answer this one. However, the problem you described sounds pretty in-depth, and reformatting sounds like the way to go to me, especially since you can back up his files relatively easily.

There is a very simple fix to the explore.exe problem in 2000 (I had a similar issue). I just can’t remember what it is off the top of my head. I’ll try and find it, and when I do, I’ll post it.