Wednesday , May 19 2021

SOLUTION: Recover/import Windows Live Mail Contacts to new computer

So today I was tasked with recovering a client’s contacts stored in a Windows Live Mail edb database for the first time.  At first, it seemed like a daunting task–primarily because I could not get a (previously) popular solution involving the now-deprecated EseDbViewer to work.  That’s because, as I later discovered, the process must be performed on the original PC in order for it to work; if you try it using the recovered files on another machine, it simply fails.
Fortunately, as is usually the case, there is another way around this problem, and it’s actually quite easy.  The goal is to get the contacts from the edb into a readable .csv (Comma Separated Values) file for import into Windows Live Mail.  And a company known as Nirsoft (who makes a number of helpful tools, often of forensic nature) has a program that works perfectly.
It’s called LiveContactsView, and it’s designed for viewing Windows Live Messenger contacts.  However, Windows Live Mail uses the same format for storing its contacts, so it works here, too.
Here’s the full process:
  1. Download LiveContactsView.
  2. Recover the original Windows Live Mail contacts database files from the failed PC/original drive:
    • They’re located in %LOCALAPPDATA%MicrosoftWindows Live Contacts{GUID}DBStore, where %LOCALAPPDATA% is an environment variable equivalent to Users{USERNAME}AppDataLocal on the drive, and {GUID} is a random string assigned to the original user’s profile.
  3. Using LiveContactsView, open the contacts.edb file from the DBStore folder.
  4. Select all fields within the list view.
  5. Export the items to a .csv file.
  6. Import the .csv file into the mail client of your choice.

That’s it!  It’s actually remarkably simple, and it is the best (and only) method I’ve found to accomplish this to date.

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