How To Repair Outlook Messages from PST or OST Files

Learn How to Repair Outlook Messages from PST or OST Files Using Recovery Toolbox for Outlook:

He used to have it all: his accounting reports, romantic notes to his wife, his boss’s calendar, his plane tickets to Frankfurt, some ancient photos of his beloved dog and his almost-equally-beloved mother-in-law.

Now it’s all gone. How far will he be able to go to recover what is rightfully his?

Wondering what it is? This isn’t a trailer for the latest action flick about a super-spy who gets into hot water. Today we’re going to discuss Microsoft’s mail program, the great and dreaded Outlook, and its rather unpleasant habit of periodically “breaking down”.

Repair Outlook messages

How Can Mail BREAK DOWN Anyway?

It’s not that complicated. However, it can do it as shown in the below examples.

For Example:

Outlook Error Message

Or like this:

Outlook Mail Break Down Error

Indeed there is a whole boatload of possible reasons. It’s not our business to hunt down the causes of errors that crop up, so let’s leave the debugging to the experts at Microsoft. There is plenty for them to do.

The most prominent and main thing is to remember that if you start Outlook and get a message that your data or folders are damaged or can’t be opened, then 100% of the time the problem has something to do with the mail database file i.e. *.pst. That’s where your messages, calendars, attachments, etc. are stored.


The older versions of the program i.e. Outlook 2003, and even more ancient versions is completely another story. If you are T. Rex the dinosaur and if your mail client won’t load, and if it wants you to delete some messages (How can you delete them if you can’t get into your mail?), then hearken to my tale.

Long, long ago, in the dim, dark ages on the cusp of the second and the third millennium, humanity had no idea that the size of a *.pst database might exceed two gigabytes.

But as years passed by, the users’ appetite grew, and yet they have never acquired the habit of using up-to-date software.

Finally, we are in 2019 now, and the twenty-year-old problem is still haunting us. As soon as the size of a *.pst file reaches the critical mass of just over two thousand megabytes, the elderly mail client goes rather insane. “Don’t mistake me!”. It tells the despairing old-timer and closes down.

It’s Every Man For Himself

A bit of general advice that applies to any software from Microsoft i.e. If an error occurs, then run the program in “safe mode“. Hold down Ctrl and left-click on the Outlook icon. A window will pop up, and the application will ask if you really want to run it in safe mode? Just click Yes.

One more life hack from the “obvious but unbelievable” range – install the latest Outlook updates. Go to File –> Account –> Update Options –> Update. A lot of problems can be solved with literally a couple of mouse clicks.

If this is not the case for you, then it’s the time to get to work on repairing the database.

To give Microsoft credit where credit is due, they know that their programs regularly go wrong and that’s why almost all of their products have built-in methods for recovering the damaged files and the Outlook is not an exception.

However, unlike many other applications, the recovery tool isn’t incorporated into the main program. It is in the Office folder, and it’s called SCANPST.EXE. Microsoft calls it the Inbox Repair Tool.

It’s quite easy to find:

If you’re using the latest Office, you’ll find it in C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\root\OfficeXX

If you’re on an older version, then you can find it in C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\OfficeXX (where “XX” is the version of the Office that you’re running).

Fans of the olden days i.e. versions from 2003 and earlier can see it in C:\Program Files\Common Files\System\MSMAPI (or just MAPI) \1033

Then make sure to close the mail program and find the troublesome *.pst file. It will be either in C:\Users\%username%\Documents\Outlook Files\ or in C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\ Outlook\, depending on the version of your Outlook.

When you find the file, just run SCANPST –> click Overview –> select the damaged *.pst –> then Start to check the file. You need to wait for the analysis to finish.

If all goes well, put a checkmark next to the option Create a backup (this is a mandatory step) and click Restore. Then we wait and hope that when the procedure is finished, you will see a message stating Recovery complete. After that, you just need to add the repaired *.pst to Outlook.

outlook inbox repair tool

Here you need to be patient. The recovery process isn’t what you’d call quick, and it puts a significant load on the system. You won’t be able to keep using the computer as normal while the recovery is running and it usually lasts a few hours to a couple of days.

Sadly, ScanPST isn’t a panacea, and there are times when it can’t do any good at all. However, you should still give it a try.

With the old versions of the program, the picture is even grimmer. In the old versions of Outlook (2003 or even earlier), you won’t be able to get into your mail if your *.pst or *.ost file is larger than 2GB.

Until recently, Microsoft offered a special program called Truncate Oversized PST and OST Tool. The logic was extremely simple i.e. it will allow you to neatly “chop” your overlarge file into two.

The first would be just “lighter” than the critical 2GB, and the second would be whatever was leftover which is usually not more than a few dozen megabytes. Then you just add the two files to Outlook, and voila! Everything worked. Well, in theory.

However, there were two problems.

First, you had to pick the file sizes manually, based on your own intuition. Later, You would have to keep trying until Outlook eventually agreed to open the two files.

Secondly, there was no guarantee that the database would come back to life at all. So you could end up wasting masses of time on all this conjuring and still have nothing to show for it.

But the worst thing is that both the Truncate Oversized PST and OST Tool and the instructions on how to use it have disappeared from the Microsoft website i.e. this solution is no longer officially supported. You can still try and find the program somewhere – but at your own risk.

I Don’t Want To Solve Anything, I Just Want It To Work

As the Anthony Hopkins character says in The Edge, “What one man can do,” “another can do” as well. It’s a paradox, but it seems that there are some people who can do things with Outlook which Microsoft themselves can’t.

There is an application on the market that can resolve the overwhelming majority of problems with *.pst/*.ost files: Recovery Toolbox for Outlook. It’s a friendly and seemingly very simple program, it is the one which even my granny could use, but the functionality “under the hood” is extremely powerful.

All you need to do is just download it from the Recovery Toolbox project’s website, install it, run it, select your damaged *.pst/*.ost file and activate the Recovery Mode.

Recovery Toolbox for Outlook

The tool will analyze the file and offer messages, calendars, and contacts to save. In terms of completeness of data, it can recover, and in terms of speed, the program is incomparably ahead of the standard SCANPST.EXE.

The users of “elderly” Outlook versions haven’t been forgotten here. If necessary, Recovery Toolbox for Outlook can just “slice” an overlarge *.pst file into several pieces, in accordance with a specified size. All the data are preserved. You can set the required parameters in Tools –> Options.

parameters in Tools – Options

In fact, the program can do a lot more i.e. it doesn’t just “repair” *.pst files, but it also converts *.ost files to *.pst format (which is sometimes absolutely necessary), and it can even recover the Outlook messages that have been deleted altogether. We’ll go into that in detail in a different article.

Of course, if it’s good then it means that you have to pay for it i.e. the license costs $49. However, it’s worth every cent, especially when your work has come to a halt because of a database that decided to stop working right then and there.

I Don’t Want To Download Anything! Or Pay $49! What Am I Supposed To Do?

In such a case, use Recovery Toolbox’s online service. It can recover *.pst/*.ost files and convert *.ost to *.pst just as well as it’s a desktop brother.

You won’t have to download any extra software, you can recover 1GB of data for only $10 and the best of all is that you’ll be able to see the folder structure of your recovered file before you pay. Just upload your damaged *.pst/*.ost file, enter your email and wait for the results.

Data loss- Corrupted File Upload

Data loss is something that can happen much more often than we’d like. But if it happens to you, don’t despair! Read through the articles, look for solutions, experiment, and don’t be reluctant to turn to professionals if you need to. Above all: Take backups!!!

How To Restore Outlook?

Enlisted below are steps to quickly and easily recover Microsoft Outlook data from a broken ‘.PST’ or ‘.OST’ file.

  1. Download, install and run Recovery Toolbox for Outlook
  2. Select your damaged PST/OST file.
  3. Select the Recovery mode.
  4. Select a folder to save data to.
  5. Choose to save as PST file.


To conclude we can say that Outlook is user-friendly and easy to use as well.

Anyone can become an expert in Microsoft Outlook with a little understanding of its basics. We hope this informative article would have enriched your knowledge of handling Microsoft Outlook effectively.

Give a try to Repair your Outlook Messages right away.