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

Last reviewed on November 13, 2014   —  28 comments

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:

C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook

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

%localappdata%\Microsoft\Outlook

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

Usage

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.

Notes

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. The demo version 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 available.

Stellar Phoenix Outlook PST Repair

Outlook PST Repair software repairs 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.

Tools

CopyPST

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

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 Recovery

Outlook Recovery locates Outlook files and databases automatically. 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 Outlook or any email application that supports the EML format.

OutlookFix

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.

Please post long or more complicated questions at Outlookforums.

28 responses to “How to repair a damaged Outlook Personal Folders file (pst)”

  1. Andy

    I am retired and have gone to gmail from my old outlook 2000. I have been lazy about transfering all my contacts to gmail. Monday this week my outlook 2000 stopped working. I have gotten a couple of error messages. one says outlook 2000 is obsolete and i should upgrade to newer software. the other says it can't open because of file PST.PRX.DLL. Do you have any suggestions to revive the outlook 2000 so I can get all my contacts?

  2. Andy

    Diane,

    I think that message came from Microsoft.

    Windows XP professional

    AVG

    Now I can't even turn it on from my desktop. The message reads "Unable to display the selected folder or item. Could not complete the operation. One or more parameter values are not valid". When I open Outlook from "all programs" the message reads. "unable to open your default e-mail folders. An unexpected error has occured. MAPI was unable to load the information dervice PSTPRX.DLL. Be sure the service is correctly installed and configured."

    Diane, I am far from a computer wiz. I know just enough to be dangerous. Any help would be appreciated.

    Andy

  3. Fix Corrupt PST File

    Thank you!!! Fantastic instructions. “Errors have been detected in the file outlook.PST”. I have tried to repair the SCANPST file but I get a message saying it is read only and cannot be repaired.

  4. Ryan - iPhone Repair In Bethlehem

    Scanpst worked for me! That actually works most of the time. In the event that it doesn't, that Outlook recovery program has worked for friends of mine.

  5. Diane

    Diane,

    I had to run scanpst.exe and it worked but it brought back a whole bunch of my old e-mails and folders that had either been previously deleted or in an older, different .pst file. Is it possibly when i ran scanpst.exe it merged the two .pst files? Do you know of a way to get my system back to where it was without all of this extra old emails everywhere?

  6. Ian Robertson

    In my Outlook 2010 Account Settings/ Data Files I discovered I have 2 outlook.pst files both in the identical same name location. C:UsersMeDocumentsOutlook FilesOutlook.pst. One of them is checked.
    The result is whenever I do a name search I get 2 of every e-mail. Can I safely delete the unchecked one?

  7. Charles

    Thanks for this really comprehensive article. Right now I'm waiting for random tech person to fix my pst file - but if they don't, I might buy one of your spot lighted tools. Are YOU recommending them, or is that a paid promotion? Don't want to waste $249....

  8. Wasim

    Hi,
    I get the following error when I run scanpst.exe

    "An error has occurred which caused the scan to be stopped. No changes have been made to the scanned file."

    OS = windows 7 pro

    Office 2007 pro

    Checked few tools but they are very expensive. Little frustrated because if those tools are able to fix the issue then why not scanpst.exe which is a Microsoft product.
    Thanks.

  9. Bert Leen

    Hello,

    I get this error "0x80040119, 0x80040600" by using Microsoft outlook and i have no any solution to fix this error please help and reply to me.

    Regards
    Bert Leen

  10. Rick P.

    Hello Diane, great article! It definately got me out of the woods last night, but I feel like I'm still stuck in no-mans-land...Outlook is now running again, and I appear to have all my data (sans iCloud calendar sync), but I'm still getting "broken letter" icons when I create a new .pst file in the target location (my Desktop or /Appdata/Local/Microsoft/Outlook/...)??
    First of all, I'm running Vista 64 and Outlook 2007.At the beginning, Outlook wouldn't open at all, so I was able to locate Scanpst. When I ran Scanpst, I couldn't get the "browse" button to locate/find my Outlook.pst main file in the folder heirarchy - something to do with Windows permissions or something, I don't know, it was as if they were hidden files or something - but I was able to use the Search File function in Windows Explorer and find the folder and file (complete with "broken letter" icon). I then moved the file to the Desktop so I could point to it with "browse" in Scanpst...this seemed to work fine, as I went through all the prompts and then hit "repair" when prompted.Now here's where my memory starts fading...when I tried to start Outlook afterwards, it didn't want to open, but somehow I got it to work after a few prompts from iCloud(?) Does this seem right? When I use Data File Managment now, the Outlook.bak file on the desktop has been identified as default??Also: there are no "repaired folders" or "Lost and Found" folders anywhere???
    When I tried to create a new .pst file (since one didn't exist yet in the /Appdata folder), it created a "broken letter" icon file??And when I tried to export a .pst file (with the current data I have open now), it did the same thing (on the desktop)? Incidentally, the original broken .pst file was/is 2.87GB, and the newly exported .pst is 1.87GB. Why would Outlook export a broken file?The result: I'm scared to close Outlook at all! Any help would be most appreciated...
    THANK YOU!

  11. Lynn

    Hi Diane,

    Here is my dilemma. I have had a couple of 'crashes' with my computer lately, it says due to overheating. When I restart it is fine and seems to run ok, however I will be haivng this checked out. Assuming the fan is not working 100% to cool the machine. However, around that time, my Outlook started to not function correctly anymore either. I am Windows XP, running Outlook 2007. I am unable to clear the flags in my to-do list. It comes up with an error message and tells me to run scanpst. Will scanpst fix this issue or do I need to run something a little more robust. A little nervous since I use Outook extensively in my business and don't want to loose anything in the process of running any fixes.

  12. Lynn

    Hi Diane. Thanks for the response. I made note of your suggestions, but I did end up doing the scanpst which makes a backup of the pst file before it does any updates. The scan does just review your file and then tells you if you have errors (which I did), so I let it run the clean up. The entire process took a l-o-n-g time. Maybe because my file is so large. But I do have a remaining problem. I have a reminder for an appointment that keeps popping up. The appointment has been deleted from my calendar, but the reminder continues to come up, even though I say dismiss. Is there a switch I can start Outlook with that will remove reminders or will one of the ones you already gave me work? Many thanks. :)

  13. Lynn

    OK Diane! Never mind! I googled it and found an earlier post from yours truly (you) and I used the suggested start up Outlook in the RUN box as "Outlook.exe /cleanreminders". And that seemed to do the trick! Thanks!

  14. Randy

    Diane, I have a corrupted archive.pst file. I have ran scanpst.exe on the file until it reports there are no errors (four times). When I open the archive.pst from within Outlook 2010 it contains no e-mail messages but instead only 800+ calendar items. The file size is 28 MB. I have tried the demo version of a couple of the retail tools listed below and get the same results. I have tried opening the file with CopyPST, changed the two bytes to "00", re-ran scanpst until no errors and get the same result: only calendar items. Any suggestions for getting the e-mail messages out of this file? Thanks much!

  15. robert gerbasi

    Obviously if I COULD OPEN outlook I could find the PST file. But since I CAN'T open it, what would you suggest? Unbelievable. I'm not paying for any piece of you know what

  16. Jolie

    Hi Diane,
    I tried to open Outlook 2010 (which I haven't used for a long time), it asks for password for Outlook Data File... (I did not create password for Outlook), would your instructions work for this type of issue? If I cannot open Outlook, does this mean that I need to re-install? Other the other components of Outlook 2010 are working fine.

  17. Luis Krause

    Diane:

    We're using OLE to synchronize Contacts and Calendars with our app and for the most part it's working fine. But a few users get an error (4096) along with an error code of -2147352567 and I discovered that by running scanpst.exe the problem is fixed and our
    sync works again.

    What I'd like to know if it's possible to use some tool on the log file scanpst.exe creates to understand what is causing the corruption so we can avoid it.

    Also, is there a way to programatically fix the errors instead of having users run scanpst.exe over an over again?

    Thanks!

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