How to repair a damaged Outlook Personal Folders file (pst)

Last reviewed on January 30, 2014

Applies to: Microsoft Outlook 2013, Outlook 2010, Outlook 2007 and older

Inbox repair tool (scanpst) iconMicrosoft provides the Inbox Repair Tool for correcting most problems with damaged Personal Folders .pst files. If you do not see the Inbox Repair Tool on the Start menu, under Programs | Accessories | System Tools, use Start | Find or Start | Search (depending on your operating system) to search your system for Scanpst.exe. In Windows 7 and Vista, type scanpst in the Start menu’s Search dialog.

You will need to know the location of the .pst file that you want to repair. If you can open Outlook, you can get the pst location from the File, Data File Management screen. Select the pst file and click the Open Folder button.

Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013 use the locations below for IMAP data files while the default location for POP3 pst files is in My Documents\Outlook Files.

Note: IMAP caches a copy of messages to the local computer and I recommend that you delete the IMAP data file. When you restart Outlook, it will rebuild the data file. This is generally better than trying to repair it using Scanpst or a commercial tool.

If you use Outlook 2007 or older and the pst file is in the default folder location, you can find it in the following locations:

Windows 7/8 or Vista:


Type or paste this shortcut in the scanpst dialog to jump to the location:


Windows XP or Windows 2000:

C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

Type or paste this shortcut in the scanpst dialog to jump to the location:

%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

See Outlook Backup and Dual-Boot for additional information on file locations and ways to determine the location of a .pst file that you can see in Outlook.

See How to use Scanpst.exe to repair Outlook data files if you need Step-by-step instructions for Scanpst.

Usage | Notes | Tools | More Information


When you run Scanpst.exe, it performs a number of tests. If it finds errors, it asks whether you want to make a backup copy of the original file (always say Yes), then tries to correct the errors.

If you run Scanpst.exe against a .pst file that Outlook 2003 created for a local copy of Windows SharePoint Services events and contacts lists, you will get an error message that you can ignore. See You Receive an Error Message When You Use the Inbox Repair Tool to Scan a .pst File

For seriously corrupted PST files, try running Scandisk.exe (look under Programs | Accessories | System Tools) first, then Scanpst.exe, repeating 3-4 times until neither program returns an error. We’ve known this technique to restore data that the user thought was lost forever.

And if that doesn’t do it, you can try our tips to repair a 2gb Personal Folders file or Offline Folders in Microsoft Outlook.

If the file is on an NTFS volume, you can’t use Scandisk.exe so easily. One approach is to open the drive in My Computer and use the Tools menu commands to scan the disk. You may need to restart Windows for the scan to run.


While you can use Scanpst.exe on offline folder (.ost) files used for cached or offline access to Exchange Server folders, we recommend deleting the ost file and letting Outlook recreate it. It’s generally faster to resync the data than it is to repair the ost and a new ost file results in fewer problems. If do use try to repair an OST file and it’s corrupted beyond the ability of Scanpst.exe to repair it, delete the ost. When you reopen Outlook it will make a new ost file.

There may be cases where you need to run both ScanPST and PST2GB. See OL2000 Error Message When You Start Outlook 2000 or Try to Open a Personal Folders File.

Another approach is to use a hex editor remove a single byte from the middle of the PST file, then run Scanpst. A hex editor is a tool for editing raw files; every Windows shareware site has several to choose from. Eugene McCarthy of FAO Headquarters in Rome recommends the free iHex editor, which loads only 64kb of the file at a time, making it ideal for tinkering with extremely large PST files. For simple Scanpst repairs, Eugene recommends changing the first byte of the PST file from hex 21 to 00.

There is no comparable program for cleaning up corrupted Personal Address Book (.pab) files. You may be able to view and recover PAB data by opening the file with a hex editor.

Tools in the Spotlight

DataNumen Outlook Repair

DataNumen Outlook Repair is a powerful tool to repair and recover corrupted Outlook PST files. Main features: recover mail messages, folders, posts, appointments, meeting requests, contacts, distribution lists, tasks, task requests, journals and notes in PST files; support to recover attachments; support to recover deleted Outlook items; support to recover oversized 2GB PST files; support to split the output PST file into several small ones; support to recover password protected PST files; support to convert PST file from Outlook 97-2002 format into the new Outlook Unicode format.

Kernel for Outlook PST Repair Tool

Kernel for Outlook PST Repair Tool recovers and restores emails and other items from damaged, corrupted or broken PST files. A demo version is available and shows you exactly that how many emails and other items will be recovered using the full Kernel Repair PST Software. Kernel for Outlook PST Repair supported versions are Outlook 97, 2000, XP, 2003. It successfully recovers all items from the PST file including emails, drafts, calendars, journal, notes, tasks, contacts etc. OST repair tool also available.

Outlook Recovery

Outlook Recovery locates Microsoft Outlook files and databases automatically no matter what disk or storage device has been used to keep them. If you experienced a hard drive failure or deleted an Outlook database by an accident, Outlook Recovery will perform a full scan of that disk in order to locate and undelete/recover the database. If a database is corrupted, Outlook Recovery will repair it so that it can be used with Microsoft Outlook again. Outlook Recovery can recover Outlook databases in PST and OST formats, saving them for using with Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, or any email application that supports the EML format.

Stellar Phoenix Outlook PST Repair

Outlook PST Repair software is developed to repair the corrupted PST file and for recovering its entire mailbox items. This software even repairs file which are larger than 2 GB and also recovers deleted emails. Stellar Phoenix Outlook PST Repair software has several powerful features like repair password protected and encrypted files and also recovery of selected folders. This software works with almost all latest Outlook versions and has good compatibility with Windows 8, 7, vista, 2003, 2002 and 2000.



CopyPST repairs Outlook data files by exporting it to a new file, ignoring any error. It requires that the data file can still be opened in Outlook. Exporting a file breaks links, which can be repairs using OLfix program. Free

DataNumen Outlook Drive Recovery

Outlook Drive Recovery can recover all Outlook data from drives or disks, including mail messages, folders, posts, appointments, meeting requests, contacts, distribution lists, tasks, task requests, journals and notes. All properties, such as subject, to, from, cc, bcc, date, etc., are recovered. Recover Outlook data with password protection, both compressible encryption and high encryption(or best encryption). The Outlook data can be recovered even if you don't have the password. All drives and file systems supported, including hard disks, flash drives, Zip disks, CDROMs, etc., and any file systems, such as FAT, FAT32, NTFS, Linux Ext2, Linux Ext3, etc.

EasyRecovery EmailRepair

Repair corrupted .pst and .ost files and those exceeding the 2gb limit. Retrieve deleted items from Outlook folders. Can access password-protected .pst files. Can also repair and restore Outlook Express data.

Outlook Accelerator

Outlook Accelerator improves Outlook performance by defragmenting Personal or Offline Folders - the place where Outlook stores all your emails, attachments, contacts, documents, etc. Outlook Folders tend to grow fast and are being constantly changed by Outlook. As a result, the file that keeps your Folders becomes heavily fragmented very quickly.


OutlookFix is an Outlook repair software tool for damaged, erased or large Outlook PST files. Restores Outlook files, will undelete emails and files, and lets you reduce the size of Outlook (Outlook 2gb limit fix) solving the common 2Gb size problem.

Recovery for Outlook

Recovery for Outlook repairs corrupted Outlook mailboxes (.pst). The program also supports Exchange Offline Storage Files (.ost). Supported Outlook versions: 2007, 2003, 2002, 2000, 98 and 97

Recovery Toolbox for Outlook

Recover data from Outlook pst files. Recover Exchange ost files and/or convert them into Microsoft Outlook pst files. Export data from pst files into eml and vcf files.

Written by

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

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