TIP: Repairing Outlook .ost and .pst files

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I’ve had issues recently with Outlook crashing when I shut it down. Initially I thought this was due to a rogue Outlook Addin (eg I’ve got Xobni, ClearContext, OutTwit and others installed). So I went through systematically getting rid of them. Put the problem persisted.

Finally I found the issue was to do with the actual .ost file being corrupted. The way I discovered this was by chance when trying to clear my Deleted items. Outlook gave me a message informing that the file was corrupt, and even better recommended using scanpst.exe to fix it.

I’d never heard of scanpst.exe but a quick Google check shows it has been around since the dark ages, and has been a regular in the Sys Admin’s toolbox for years.

If you are looking for it you can find it in your c:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office 12\ folder or equivalent.

Everything Outlook related needs to be closed down (eg Mobile Device Sync) and then you run it up. It’ll prompt for the ost file and away you go.

Since repairing my file I’ve had no further issues with Outlook.

Technorati Tags: scanpst.exe, Outlook, ost, pst, fix

81 comments

  • Thanks for the tip. A couple of things you probably already know about re Outlook2007 performance, but just in case…

    1. There is a <a href="http://anthonymilner.wordpress.com/2007/06/13/outlook-2007-responsiveness/">patch</a&gt; that fixes known performance issues with .ost .pst .

    2. If you’re running Google Desktop make sure you get the latest version. older version stop the Outlook process from shutting down which causes a delay on restart as the .ost is checked.

  • Thanks for the tip. A couple of things you probably already know about re Outlook2007 performance, but just in case…

    1. There is a <a href="http://anthonymilner.wordpress.com/2007/06/13/outlook-2007-responsiveness/">patch</a&gt; that fixes known performance issues with .ost .pst .

    2. If you’re running Google Desktop make sure you get the latest version. older version stop the Outlook process from shutting down which causes a delay on restart as the .ost is checked.

  • I’ve found scanpst to be a great tool in the past that works about 90% of the time…

    But I’ve had some real weird experiences with OST’s. A recent one was that whenever I’d select a folder in Outlook that was on my exchange mail account, I’d get a message to the effect of "There was an error reading the folder"… When I used a search folder, however, it was able to read the contents of the folder easily.

    Outlook’s scan tools couldn’t fix it so i took matters into my own hands. :)

    I backed up the entire mailbox, blew away the ost (in Vista – C:Users[User Name]AppDataLocalMicrosoftOutlookoutlook.ost) created a new one and restored from the backup. It took me about an hour, but it was well worth it.

  • I’ve found scanpst to be a great tool in the past that works about 90% of the time…

    But I’ve had some real weird experiences with OST’s. A recent one was that whenever I’d select a folder in Outlook that was on my exchange mail account, I’d get a message to the effect of "There was an error reading the folder"… When I used a search folder, however, it was able to read the contents of the folder easily.

    Outlook’s scan tools couldn’t fix it so i took matters into my own hands. :)

    I backed up the entire mailbox, blew away the ost (in Vista – C:\Users\[User Name]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\outlook.ost) created a new one and restored from the backup. It took me about an hour, but it was well worth it.

  • Hi Ducas,

    Interesting. Theoretically you should be able to delete the local .ost file and Outlook will automatically rebuild it next time it connects to the Exchange server. The problem with this approach of course is that it can take ages if you have a huge .ost file since it has to resynch everything including sent mail, all your folders etc (and hence using scanpst is the preferred option).
    But if scanpst doesn’t work, and you don’t want to have to wait ages for a big re-sync then your backup suggestion is nice option.

    Cheers,
    Craig

  • Hi Ducas,

    Interesting. Theoretically you should be able to delete the local .ost file and Outlook will automatically rebuild it next time it connects to the Exchange server. The problem with this approach of course is that it can take ages if you have a huge .ost file since it has to resynch everything including sent mail, all your folders etc (and hence using scanpst is the preferred option).
    But if scanpst doesn’t work, and you don’t want to have to wait ages for a big re-sync then your backup suggestion is nice option.

    Cheers,
    Craig

  • I heard about not bad application-<a href="http://www.recoverytoolbox.com/ost_till_pst.html">ost to pst software</a>, convert from ost to pst software will convert *.ost to *.pst extension, that can be easily opened by any email client, compatible with Microsoft Outlook, recover your contacts, messages and calendars, is very easy to use even for beginners, we do not care about you computer skills, friendly graphic interface permits to perform all operations in several mouse clicks.

  • I heard about not bad application-<a href="http://www.recoverytoolbox.com/ost_till_pst.html">ost to pst software</a>, convert from ost to pst software will convert *.ost to *.pst extension, that can be easily opened by any email client, compatible with Microsoft Outlook, recover your contacts, messages and calendars, is very easy to use even for beginners, we do not care about you computer skills, friendly graphic interface permits to perform all operations in several mouse clicks.

About Craig

I'm the co-host of HubShots and the CEO of XEN - helping mid-large B2B companies with their digital marketing and lead generation.

Craig Bailey

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