TLDR, question: How can I import and read all those HTML email and attachment files easily ? Most importantly, I need to read the attachments (PDFs) copies of signed contracts, in case...

More info:

Recently I lost then recovered most files on my account (my fault, sadly). But I'm missing many older emails, the recovered mails stop up to Nov 2018. But I had many from 2014 to now... I tried on both their server's webmail client or my local one (using imap or pop, tried both) it stops at Nov 2018.

I asked their support, but didn't really helped (they're so-so, not that helpful, meh). So then I tried it myself, downloaded the whole backup of my user account there (with cpanel).

On the local backup I downloaded, surprise all email files seem to be there, with timestamps from 2014-now. From a quick look, it seems like just pain HTML and some base64 stuff, I assume attachments.

How can I import and read those ? I tried using Mozilla Thunderbird, but didn't find how to. I'd rather find a Windows client with GUI, but also have WSL Ubuntu bash so in the worse case there maybe, or some linux tool to convert into a Thunderbird friendly format ?

  • 1
    Can you be more specific about the format they are in? The two main formats for email are mbox and maildir. mbox is one file per mail folder with many message in each file. Maildir is one file per email message and a directory structure that mirrors the mail folders. Dec 1, 2020 at 19:57
  • 1
    This sounds strange. You say you couldn't read the emails, but they were in the backup. If that is the case, they were in your account and you need to find out why you couldn't see them if they were actually there (was it permissions?). Have you tried restoring the account from the backup?
    – Steve
    Dec 1, 2020 at 20:33
  • @Steve no I have not. But I do have locally the account backup archive so I should be able to read these locally using a Windows GUI client.
    – deryb
    Dec 2, 2020 at 16:28
  • @StephenOstermiller It seems they are in Maildir format.
    – deryb
    Dec 2, 2020 at 16:29
  • THunderbird uses mbox format local mail. To get all those emails in Thunderbird you would either have to convert maildir to mbox then put it in the right directory, or get a plugin to import it into Thunderbird. Dec 2, 2020 at 17:15

1 Answer 1


Thanks for the help all!

I was able to figure how to import and open a few files. Actually the Horde web mail client on the server was able to import a few hand picked emails which helped us assert that emails from our Inbox folder prior to Nov 2018 are gone somehow we cannot explain.

But fortunately our Sent folder has all emails sent so we do have a copy of most important files (signed contracts etc).

So this is a good reminder for us to step up our backups and disaster recovery routines...

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