First thing: what is a Thunderbird Profile ?

(Note: I am NOT responsible for the loss of your data. These instructions are only there to help you learn things.)

In Thunderbird, the profile stores two main sets of items. First, it stores your local mail, and possibly copies of messages that reside on the mail server (depending on your account configuration). Second, it stores any changes you make while using Thunderbird (for example, changes to account settings and changes to the toolbar).


Finding your Profiles folder

If you need help with that, that article is useful.

Putting together a (bash) script

Then, you can create a script somewhere, that you will execute when you want to backup your Thunderbird profile.

I'm on Windows, so I'm going to use the $APPDATA environment variable that is available in the terminal. I'm using Git Bash's terminal.

This is the script I have done (named

date=$(date -d "today" +"%Y%m%d%H%M")
cp -R $HOME/AppData/Roaming/Thunderbird/Profiles //NAS/Backups/Thunderbird_Profile_Backups/Profile_$date

And I execute it like so (close thunderbird before doing so. otherwise it won't work):

$ sh

I use a special folder in my NAS server to store the profile backups. But it could be anything you want, like a Dropbox folder, for example.

Restoring a backup

Let's say you reinstall Thunderbird on a new machine. The only things you need to do in order to restore your backup is:

  1. Close Thunderbird, otherwise it'll break something.
  2. (On windows) go to %APPDATA% (you can write it directly in the directory bar of File Explorer and it will go inside your %HOMEPATH% > AppData > Roaming). From there, go to Thunderbird > Profiles.
  3. Then, you'll see 2 folders named like: [randomletters].default and [randomletters].default-release.
  4. Remove the content your the destination's *.default-release/ folder.
  5. You can then copy the content of your backup's *.default-release/, then paste all that into your destination's *.default-release/ folder.