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How to Fix a Broken Email Account If You’ve Deleted Folders in cPanel’s Mail Folder That You Shouldn’t Have Deleted

You're probably not as adventurous as me when it comes to deleting files and folders, but if you are, and you've deleted folders inside the cPanel File Manager and they're crucial to the working of one of your email addresses, this guide is for you.
How to Fix a Broken Email Account If You’ve Deleted Folders in cPanel’s Mail Folder That You Shouldn’t Have Deleted

I was cleaning out my Siteground hosting environment when I inadvertently killed one of my email addresses.

I did this by entering the mail folder above the root folder, via cPanel’s File Manager.

Once there, I deleted some folders for one of my own email accounts that didn’t receive much mail.

I didn’t know that deleting these folders would kill my email address.

It was a case of, “Mmm, I wonder what this button does…”

Only when I tried fetching emails for it through Thunderbird, did I notice the error message informing me that the email address was dead.

Because I don’t use that email address much, killing it doesn’t cost me, and I can afford to experiment with it.

With that in mind, I headed into the Siteground install, clicked on the Email Accounts link and tried to edit the email address.

But cPanel told me that the email address didn’t exist, despite it being listed as one of my email addresses.

So I thought I’d visit the file system via File Manager, to see if there’s anything else to delete.

There was nothing.

So I tried recreating the email address.

But cPanel told me that the email address already existed.

So I was stuck in limbo.

I couldn’t delete the email address, because cPanel told me that it doesn’t exist.

However, when I tried to create the email address, cPanel told me that it already existed!

I eventually got it to work, and it’s not because I’m clever, but because cPanel is intuitive in handling email addresses.

Read on to see how I fixed this weird error.

TLDR

If you’ve deleted files and folders inside your mail folder (inside your cPanel File Manager) that correspond to an email address you DON’T want to lose, go into cPanel, to the Email Accounts section, and recreate the email using the email address’ original password (pretend the email address doens’t already exist).

Click save and test the email address. It should work fine.

For demonstration purposes, I set up, break and then fix an email address, fake@minibigthing.com, through my Siteground cPanel.

Enter your Siteground cPanel

Sign into your Siteground account
Sign into your Siteground account.
Open the My Accounts tab, then click on Go to cPanel
Open the My Accounts tab, then click on Go to cPanel.

Create an email address

Click on Email Accounts
Click on Email Accounts.
Enter the name for your new email account, along with a strong password
Enter the name for your new email account, along with a strong password and click the Create Account button.
Your email address is listed along with the others
Your email address is listed along with the others.

Set up your email address in Thunderbird (optional)

Open Thunderbird
Open Thunderbird on your desktop.
Add the email by clicking on File, then New, then Existing Mail Account
Add the email by clicking on File, then New, then Existing Mail Account.
Add your email addresses details and click on Continue
Add your email address’ details and click on Continue.

Thunderbird is clever, so it locates the details for the email address automatically.

Once Thunderbird has done its thing, click on Done
Once Thunderbird has done its thing, click on Done.

Test the email address to ensure it works

I sent an email to fake@minibigthing.com. It worked.

The email I sent from another account, as seen inside my Thunderbird
The email I sent from another account, as seen inside my Thunderbird.

Break the new email address

Click on the cPanel Home button
Click on the cPanel Home button.
Click on File Manager
Click on File Manager. This opens the File Manager in a new tab.
Click on the folder above root, or click on the Up One Level link
Click on the folder above root, or click on the Up One Level link.
Click on the mail folder
Click on the mail folder. (You might need to double click to enter.)
Highlight the folder that corresponds to the email address you created
Highlight the folder that corresponds to the email address you created.
Click the Delete button
Click the Delete button.

When a warning pops up, acknowledge that you want to delete the folder.

Delete all folders and files related to the email address you created
Delete all folders and files related to the email address you created.

Make sure the email address is broken

Before we can claim we’ve fixed the problem, we need to be sure that it is broken.

Open Thunderbird, and you should get an error message for the email address you created.

Thunderbird throws an error for the email address, because it doesn't work after deleting the folders inside the mail folder
Thunderbird throws an error for the email address, because it doesn’t work after deleting the folders inside the mail folder.
My Gmail shows the bounced message, proving that the email address doesn't work
My Gmail shows the bounced message, proving that the email address doesn’t work.

See the problem in cPanel

Head for the Email Accounts section in cPanel.

Click on the Delete link for the corresponding email address
Click on the Delete link for the corresponding email address.
A message pops up stating that there's no email with that name
A message pops up stating that there’s no email with that name.

Try to recreate the email

Since cPanel states there’s no such email address, let’s try to create it.

Add your details and click the Create Account button
Add your details and click the Create Account button.
An error message pops up stating that the account already exists
An error message pops up stating that the account already exists.

Fix the broken email

That last action, trying to recreate the email address, seems to fix the problem.

I don’t know why, but it works.

So before you continue, you MUST try to create the email.

And when you do that, your email should be restored.

To test it, change the quota.

Changing the quota now works
Changing the quota now works.

Your weirdly broken email should work fine thanks to this one weird trick.

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