Data Recovery

How to Repair Outlook Data Files


by Joe

Microsoft Outlook is a popular email client used by millions of people around the world. It allows users to send and receive emails, manage their calendars, and store important data.

One of the key features of Outlook is its ability to store data in data files, such as PST (Personal Storage Table) and OST (Offline Storage Table) files.

However, these data files are prone to corruption and can cause issues for users.

I will discuss how to repair Outlook data files and resolve common issues.

Understanding Outlook Data Files

Outlook data files, also known as PST files, are used to store emails, contacts, calendar events, and other data in Microsoft Outlook.

These files are stored on your computer’s hard drive and can become corrupt due to various reasons, such as unexpected shutdowns, software conflicts, or hardware failures.

When a PST file becomes corrupt, you may experience issues such as missing emails, slow performance, or even unable to open Outlook at all.

Common Issues with Outlook Data Files

Outlook is one of the most widely used email clients in the business world.

With its plethora of features and user-friendly interface, it has become a go-to tool for managing emails, calendars, tasks, and contacts.

However, like any other software, Outlook is not immune to issues.

One common problem that users encounter is corrupted or damaged Outlook data files.

These files, which store all the emails, attachments, and other vital information, can lead to a loss of data if they become corrupt.

Below are the 2 most common issues with Outlook data files and we will discuss possible solutions to overcome them. 

1. Corrupt PST Files

One of the most common issues with Outlook data files is corruption in PST files. A corrupt PST file can lead to data loss and affect the performance of Outlook. Signs of a corrupt PST file include frequent crashes or error messages when opening Outlook, missing emails or folders, and slow performance. It is important to repair a corrupt PST file as soon as possible to avoid further data loss.

2. OST File Errors

OST files are used when working in offline mode in Outlook. These files allow you to access your emails and other data even when you are not connected to the internet. However, OST files can also encounter errors, such as synchronization issues or being unable to open. This can result in missing or outdated data when you go back online.

Repairing PST Files

When it comes to repairing PST files, Microsoft provides a built-in tool called the Inbox Repair Tool (scanpst.exe).

This tool is included with Outlook and can help you diagnose and repair errors in PST files. To use the Inbox Repair Tool, follow these steps:

Using the Inbox Repair Tool

1. Close Outlook and open the Inbox Repair Tool (scanpst.exe). The location of the tool may vary depending on your Outlook version, but it is typically found in the Office installation folder.

2. Click on the “Browse” button and navigate to the location of your PST file that you want to repair.

3. Click on the “Start” button to begin the scanning and repair process. The tool will analyze the PST file and report any errors found.

4. If errors are found, click on the “Repair” button to fix them. Note that the repair process may take some time depending on the size of the PST file and the extent of the errors.

Using Third-Party PST Repair Tools

If the Inbox Repair Tool fails to repair your PST file or if it cannot even open the file, you may need to consider using third-party PST repair tools.

There are several commercial and free tools available online that are specifically designed to repair corrupt PST files.

One popular option is Stellar Repair for Outlook, which is known for its effectiveness in repairing PST files and recovering data.

Another option is Recovery Toolbox for Outlook, which offers a user-friendly interface and powerful recovery capabilities.

Repairing OST Files

Repairing OST files is a bit different from repairing PST files. Since OST files are associated with your Exchange server or email account, the most common solution for repairing OST files is to delete the existing file and recreate it.

Here are the steps to repair OST files:

1. Close Outlook and go to the location where your OST file is stored. The default location is usually in the AppData folder of your user profile.

2. Rename the existing OST file to something like “old_ost”. Note that renaming the file will disconnect Outlook from your Exchange server or email account.

3. Open Outlook, and a new OST file will be created automatically. This file will sync with your Exchange server or email account and download the latest data.

Locating Outlook Data Files in Different Versions of Outlook

The location of Outlook data files may vary depending on the version of Outlook you are using. Here are the default locations for different versions of Outlook:

– Outlook 2010 and later: C:\Users\%username%\Documents\Outlook Files

– Outlook 2007: C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook

– Outlook 2003 and earlier: C:\Documents and Settings\%username%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

If you cannot locate your data files, you can open Outlook and go to “File” > “Account Settings” > “Data Files” to see the location of your PST and OST files.

Backing Up Outlook Data Files

Since Outlook data files contain important emails and other data, it is crucial to regularly back up these files.

This ensures that you have a copy of your data in case of any unexpected issues or data loss. To back up Outlook data files, follow these steps:

1. Open Outlook and go to “File” > “Options” > “Advanced”.

2. Under “Export”, click on the “Export” button.

3. Choose “Export to a file” and click on the “Next” button.

4. Select “Outlook Data File (.pst)” and click on the “Next” button.

5. Choose the folders you want to back up or select the entire mailbox.

6. Click on the “Browse” button and choose a location to save the backup file.

7. Click on the “Finish” button to start the backup process.

Tips and Tricks

– How to Prevent PST File Corruption:

To prevent PST file corruption, regularly compact your mailbox, avoid oversized attachments, and keep your Outlook installation and antivirus software up to date.

– How to Recover Repaired Items:

After repairing a PST file, you may find that some items are missing or moved to a different folder. To recover these items, go to “Folder” > “Recover Deleted Items” and choose the items you want to recover.


Repairing Outlook data files is essential to ensure the smooth performance of Microsoft Outlook and to prevent data loss.

By using the built-in Inbox Repair Tool or third-party repair tools, you can fix corrupt PST files and resolve issues with OST files.

Additionally, regularly backing up your Outlook data files helps safeguard your important data.

Remember to follow the recommended best practices to prevent future PST file corruption and keep your Outlook running smoothly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a PST file in Microsoft Outlook?

A PST (Personal Storage Table) file is a file format used by Microsoft Outlook to store email messages, contacts, calendar entries, and other data.

Where can I find the Inbox Repair Tool?

The Inbox Repair Tool (scanpst.exe) is automatically installed with Microsoft Outlook. You can find it in the Office installation folder.

How do I start the Inbox Repair Tool?

To start the Inbox Repair Tool, follow these steps: 1. Close Outlook. 2. Open the Inbox Repair Tool (scanpst.exe). 3. Select the PST file that you want to repair. 4. Click on the “Start” button.

Can I repair a PST file in Outlook 2016, 2013?

Yes, you can repair a PST file in the Outlook version mentioned above using the Inbox Repair Tool.

How do I create a new Outlook data file?

To create a new Outlook data file, follow these steps: 1. Open Outlook. 2. Go to the “File” menu. 3. Click on “New” and choose “Outlook Data File”. 4. Select the type of data file you want to create. 5. Click on “OK”.

How do I open an Outlook data file?

To open an Outlook data file, follow these steps: 1. Open Outlook. 2. Go to the “File” menu. 3. Click on “Open” and choose “Outlook Data File”. 4. Browse to the location of the data file. 5. Select the data file and click on “OK”.

How can I backup my Outlook PST file?

To backup your Outlook PST file, you can manually copy the file to a different location or use the built-in export feature in Outlook to create a backup.

Love to take things apart and kind of a habit. When he is not breaking things, he usually sits in front of his computer and start browsing the web.