Step-by-step instructions on how to repair a corrupted Outlook data (.pst) file using the Inbox Repair Tool (scanpst.exe)

If you can’t seem to open your Outlook Personal Folders file (.pst) data file, or an error message indicates that it may be corrupted, you can use tools provided by Microsoft to attempt to repair the corrupt file.

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to go about repairing a corrupt Outlook data file –

  1. The first step is to locate the tool that will be used to perform the repair. This tool is called the Inbox Repair Tool (scanpst.exe) and it should already be on your computer. The Inbox Repair tool is automatically installed with all English-language Microsoft Outlook installation options, and its specific location depends on your operating system. To locate this tool perform a search on your computer for the scanpst.exe file.

  2. Once you have located the tool, double-click it to start the tool. Note that if you located it using the command-prompt, you will need to change directory to the directory that contains the tool, then type scanpst.exe and hit enter.

  3. After you have opened the tool, you will need to specify the location of your corrupted .pst data file. To do so, you can either enter the complete path of the file in the input box, or click the Browse button to locate your corrupted .pst file.

  4. In most cases, your PST file can be found in the C:\Documents and Settings\\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook folder, where is your account’s logon name.

  5. Once you have specified the path of your corrupted data file, the Start button will be enabled in the Inbox Repair Tool. To initiate repairs, you can click on the Start button, BUT before you do so, see the next instruction first.

  6. Before you press the Start, you can specify that the tool make a backup of your corrupted file before attempting repairs. This is usually a wise choice and is recommended. To do so, simply check the box and specify the location and a name that the tool will give to the backup file.

  7. Click the Start button and wait for a few moments. After the tool has finished scanning the file for errors, if it finds errors, it will inform you that errors were found, and a Repair Button will now be present and enabled.

  8. To initiate the repair, click the Repair button and wait for a few moments as the tool attempts to fix the errors that were found. Please note that when you click on Repair, it may appear that nothing is happening when in fact the repair is in progress. Unfortunately the tool provides no indication of how far along it is in the repair process nor that it is actually performing the repair, but in fact it is performing repairs and could take some time.

  9. After the repair has finished, a "Recovered" version of your .pst file is created.

  10. Now proceed to open Outlook. After Outlook has opened, you will need to configure it to use the recovered version of our data file instead of your corrupted file. To do so, you will have to open the Data File Management dialog in Outlook, and use it to instruct Outlook to use the recovered file.

If you followed the above instructions and everything went fine, you should have successfully recovered your corrupted Outlook data file.

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