In Thunderbird, the Profile folder contains locally stored mail, preferences and settings, extensions, etc. If you have important emails saved locally, you are strongly encouraged to backup your profiles regularly to prevent loss of data.
Steps are given specifically for backing up IMAP mail locally in [Link for document 4037 is unavailable at this time.].
Additional information about backing up and restoring Profiles in Thunderbird can be found in http://kb.mozillazine.org/Profile_backup.