If you’ve ever used Outlook for over a month, you’ve probably seen a few instances where the message â€œOutlook data file didn’t close properlyâ€ popped up and you had to wait a few minutes for Outlook to restore the file. Quite annoying, but at least you can review your emails after waiting.
Sometimes, however, you may not be so lucky and your entire data file (PST) becomes so damaged or corrupted that Outlook refuses to open the file at all. In such a situation, you can try to repair the corrupted PST file with a couple of free tools. Since Outlook data corruption can occur for several reasons, you may have to try several of the methods listed below before the problem is fixed.
Method 1 – Inbox Repair Tool
A simple tool that has been around for a long time from Microsoft that basically tries to recover the header of a PST file and remove anything from a file that it doesn’t recognize or understand.
The tool is actually already installed on all Windows 2000 and XP computers in the following directory: (for Office 2007 it is located in C: Program Files Microsoft Office Office12 )
C: Program Files Common Files System Mapi 1033 NT
If for some reason it is not in this directory, click Start and do the usual Windows search for the next executable file, scanpst.exe. You can also simply download the Inbox Repair Tool from Microsoft’s website and it will launch automatically.
Now click Browse and select the corrupted PST file. If you are not sure where your PST file is stored, it is usually located in this directory:
– / C: Documents and Settings username Local Settings Application Data Microsoft Outlook
After selecting the file, click “Start”.
Once completed, it will inform you about the errors found in your PST file. Go ahead and click “Recover Now” to start recovering the file.
Now when you open Outlook, hopefully your inbox is back to normal and all your emails will be there. If not, take another chance. Sometimes you need to run scanpst.exe several times for all errors to go away.
Please note that this tool can be used not only for PST files, but also for recovering OST files, which are basically Exchange Server offline folders.
The second method – truncate the large PST file
The second reason your PST file might get corrupted is because the Outlook data file size limit is 2GB. Once you exceed 2 GB, the entire file will be corrupted! Not very smart, but it happens. This only applies to older versions of Office.
To fix this problem, you need to trim the PST file to be less than 2GB. Unfortunately, you will have to use a tool from Microsoft called Oversized PST and OST Cropping Tool, which will remove 25-50MB of your data.
Please note that using this tool will DELETE some of your emails, however this is the only way to reopen the file in Outlook. Therefore, use this tool with caution and only as a last resort.
You can follow the step-by-step instructions in the Microsoft KB article linked above to use this tool.
If you are using Outlook connected to Exchange Server, there is also OST recovery tool. Just as you searched for scanpst.exe, now search for scanost.exe. Select Scan all folders or select a folder to scan, and then select the Fix errors check box. Then click “Start Scan”.
Method 3 – Recovery Toolbox for Outlook
If none of the above methods helped, you can try a third-party program called Recovery Toolbox for Outlook, which can possibly save your file and recover your emails.
The way it works is also safe as it creates a new PST file and then tries to copy all data from the corrupted file. It scans the file and goes through a few more steps to recover as much data as possible.
Note that this program is not free and will probably tell you that it can restore your file, but in order for it to actually do so, you will have to pay for a license. However, if you have thousands of emails and can’t afford to lose them all, it might be worth spending $ 50 to recover your emails.
Is there any other way to fix a corrupted PST or OST file? If so, leave a comment and let us know! Enjoy!