Outlook email PST file is corrupt, need advice

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Topic Author
carolinaman
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Outlook email PST file is corrupt, need advice

Post by carolinaman » Mon Nov 04, 2019 7:40 am

I am a long time user of Outlook email and use it on my home computer. Over the past year, Outlook has failed to run at least 6 times due to corruption of the PST file. I have managed to get around this by various means in the past: Scanpst.exe (MS repair utility), backups, and use of a third party product. However, this time nothing is working so far. I have 2 questions for forum members:

Question 1: Do you know of a good third party repair tool or do you have other suggestions to recover my data?
There are a lot of third party products. Finding a really good one (if there are any) is difficult with the many products out there and lack of credible reviews. I have tried 2 and was sorely disappointed with them. I rely heavily upon my archives and past messages for personal business, contacts, calendar, etc., so I really need to recover my data.

Question 2: Do you have recommendations for replacing Outlook? I really like the functionality of Outlook, but I am open to considering other products. I have Gmail but have never been impressed with it. It seems to lack key features or perhaps I do not know how to do those things in Gmail. I am considering Office 365 which would be an easy transition for me but does it have the same vulnerability? Outlook has a complex file structure and when it hangs and does not close properly, the desktop client is prone to get corrupted. It would seem this desktop flaw is inherent in all Outlook versions. In my IT life, I used to repair corrupt databases, so I conceptually understand how this happens. However, in the modern world this seems to be a major flaw with Outlook. Having said that, I never was victim to this Outlook problem in 20+ years of use until the past year. I use Win 8.1 and Office 2010 on my desktop. I am wondering if the rather old version of software I run may be part of the problem.

Thanks for your help.

SimonJester
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Re: Outlook email PST file is corrupt, need advice

Post by SimonJester » Mon Nov 04, 2019 7:50 am

How large is your PST file? I know at mega corp, we see a lot of issue when the size of the PST file get into the multi Gig range. IN fast at 2 Gig its almost a guarantee for corruption.
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

Topic Author
carolinaman
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Re: Outlook email PST file is corrupt, need advice

Post by carolinaman » Mon Nov 04, 2019 7:59 am

It is not very large, only 24M.

moshe
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Re: Outlook email PST file is corrupt, need advice

Post by moshe » Mon Nov 04, 2019 8:29 am

carolinaman wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 7:40 am
I am wondering if the rather old version of software I run may be part of the problem.

Thanks for your help.
What version of Outlook are you running?
What is your OS version?

24MB is not very large and no reason for the PST file to corrupt.

Additional questions:
1) Does Outlook open at all?
2) Have you tried opening outlook in "safe" mode. Perhaps it is an add-in that is causing the issues and not the PST file.
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/hel ... -safe-mode
3) Have you run scanpst. What is the result? Was the file repaired? Can you try the original file in "safe" mode?
4) How old is your hardware? It is possible you are having harddrive issues. 1) perform a backup 2) run a full disk and sector scan. 3)try the repair again.

Copy the file to a thumb drive and try opening it on someone else's Outlook in safe mode.

Once you get this straightened out I suggest that you consider going to office365 (including office license) and importing the data. In that way you can always have the latest version of office and not worry about file corruption. Also, having your own domain name is trivial with O365 but not required.

~Moshe
My money has no emotions. ~Moshe | | I'm the world's greatest expert on my own opinion. ~Bruce Williams

Topic Author
carolinaman
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Location: North Carolina

Re: Outlook email PST file is corrupt, need advice

Post by carolinaman » Mon Nov 04, 2019 9:26 am

moshe wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 8:29 am
carolinaman wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 7:40 am
I am wondering if the rather old version of software I run may be part of the problem.

Thanks for your help.
What version of Outlook are you running?
What is your OS version?

24MB is not very large and no reason for the PST file to corrupt.

Additional questions:
1) Does Outlook open at all? No
2) Have you tried opening outlook in "safe" mode. Perhaps it is an add-in that is causing the issues and not the PST file.
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/hel ... -safe-mode
Outlook would not run in safe mode.
3) Have you run scanpst. What is the result? Was the file repaired? Can you try the original file in "safe" mode?
Yes, I have tried this multiple times without success
4) How old is your hardware? It is possible you are having harddrive issues. 1) perform a backup 2) run a full disk and sector scan. 3)try the repair again. Dell desktop PC was purchased in 2014.

Copy the file to a thumb drive and try opening it on someone else's Outlook in safe mode.

Once you get this straightened out I suggest that you consider going to office365 (including office license) and importing the data. In that way you can always have the latest version of office and not worry about file corruption. Also, having your own domain name is trivial with O365 but not required.

~Moshe
Thanks Moshe. You made some good suggestions. See answers above. The root cause of problem seems to be the interoperability between ISP and Outlook for email. Outlooks sometimes hangs in the email transfer from ISP to Outlook and does not end normally. Hence the data corruption. This is not a new problem between ISP and Outlook but seems to occur more often now than a few years ago.

I use Win 8.1 and Outlook 2010 for my desktop. I have a Win 10 laptop (use mainly for travel) but do not have Office on it.

I am considering Office 365 for my laptop but wondering if I will just be transferring the problem to my laptop since the data corruption problem seems to be a design flaw in Outlook.

user9532
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Re: Outlook email PST file is corrupt, need advice

Post by user9532 » Mon Nov 04, 2019 9:41 am

Try this:

Close Outlook. Open Task Manager and look under Processes. Check if you see Microsoft Outlook. If so, click on it and press End Task. Then open Outlook and see if it syncs with the ISP. You may also want to try after disabling add-ins.

moshe
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Location: Boston, MA

Re: Outlook email PST file is corrupt, need advice

Post by moshe » Mon Nov 04, 2019 9:46 am

carolinaman wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 9:26 am
moshe wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 8:29 am
carolinaman wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 7:40 am
I am wondering if the rather old version of software I run may be part of the problem.

Thanks for your help.
What version of Outlook are you running?
What is your OS version?

24MB is not very large and no reason for the PST file to corrupt.

Additional questions:
1) Does Outlook open at all? No
2) Have you tried opening outlook in "safe" mode. Perhaps it is an add-in that is causing the issues and not the PST file.
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/hel ... -safe-mode
Outlook would not run in safe mode.
3) Have you run scanpst. What is the result? Was the file repaired? Can you try the original file in "safe" mode?
Yes, I have tried this multiple times without success
4) How old is your hardware? It is possible you are having harddrive issues. 1) perform a backup 2) run a full disk and sector scan. 3)try the repair again. Dell desktop PC was purchased in 2014.

Copy the file to a thumb drive and try opening it on someone else's Outlook in safe mode.

Once you get this straightened out I suggest that you consider going to office365 (including office license) and importing the data. In that way you can always have the latest version of office and not worry about file corruption. Also, having your own domain name is trivial with O365 but not required.

~Moshe
Thanks Moshe. You made some good suggestions. See answers above. The root cause of problem seems to be the interoperability between ISP and Outlook for email. Outlooks sometimes hangs in the email transfer from ISP to Outlook and does not end normally. Hence the data corruption. This is not a new problem between ISP and Outlook but seems to occur more often now than a few years ago.

I use Win 8.1 and Outlook 2010 for my desktop. I have a Win 10 laptop (use mainly for travel) but do not have Office on it.

I am considering Office 365 for my laptop but wondering if I will just be transferring the problem to my laptop since the data corruption problem seems to be a design flaw in Outlook.
Very welcome!

If Outlook does not open at all then i would try creating a new Outlook profile. You can do this from the control panel, mail icon. Perhaps your PST is fine and it is your Outlook profile which is corrupt.

Also, choose the IMAP option rather than the POP. Call your mail provider for the correct settings and timeouts.

I have been using and supporting Outlook for 20 years. It is a mature product that usually works well.

However, Thunderbird, from the Firefox developers is a very reasonable alternative. You might want to check it out but i suspect any timeout or connection problems you are having with Outlook will also cause issues with Thunderbird.

O365 uses an online "exchange" database to store your information so only a replica (an .ost file) is stored locally for speedy access. If the local .ost file should corrupt, delete it and recreate the profile with zero loss of data. In my opinion this is the way to go. It costs some modest fee but well worth it.. You can go for the full with office license or the email only license, which is less expensive.

Check out their web site. You can find the exchange only option (no office) on the business tab. They will provide you an "ugly" email address but i suggest registering a domain at ~$20 per year. The cost for the "business essentials" plan is currently $5 per user per month.
https://products.office.com/en-us/compa ... :primaryr1

~Moshe
My money has no emotions. ~Moshe | | I'm the world's greatest expert on my own opinion. ~Bruce Williams

Dwayne
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Joined: Sun Mar 16, 2014 11:58 am

Re: Outlook email PST file is corrupt, need advice

Post by Dwayne » Mon Nov 04, 2019 1:48 pm

Editted to add: I just realized you've used the SCANPST utility already. I'm leaving this advise for others who might be having the same problem. Good luck.
----

I've had to deal with corrupt Microsoft Outlook PST files a number of times professionally.

You need the Microsoft "Inbox Repair Tool" utility. It provides a PST file repair tool called "SCANPST.EXE".
The instructions you need are at: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/hel ... r-file-pst

It's a slow process (so don't panic if it takes a couple of hours to run the repair process), but I've had great success in repairing PST files. After you've repaired the file you might want to make it a habit to back it up to other media (such as a flash drive) for safe keeping.

Dwayne

Topic Author
carolinaman
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Location: North Carolina

Re: Outlook email PST file is corrupt, need advice

Post by carolinaman » Fri Nov 08, 2019 9:36 am

moshe wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 9:46 am
carolinaman wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 9:26 am
moshe wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 8:29 am


I use Win 8.1 and Outlook 2010 for my desktop. I have a Win 10 laptop (use mainly for travel) but do not have Office on it.

I am considering Office 365 for my laptop but wondering if I will just be transferring the problem to my laptop since the data corruption problem seems to be a design flaw in Outlook.
Very welcome!

If Outlook does not open at all then i would try creating a new Outlook profile. You can do this from the control panel, mail icon. Perhaps your PST is fine and it is your Outlook profile which is corrupt.

Also, choose the IMAP option rather than the POP. Call your mail provider for the correct settings and timeouts.

I have been using and supporting Outlook for 20 years. It is a mature product that usually works well.

However, Thunderbird, from the Firefox developers is a very reasonable alternative. You might want to check it out but i suspect any timeout or connection problems you are having with Outlook will also cause issues with Thunderbird.

O365 uses an online "exchange" database to store your information so only a replica (an .ost file) is stored locally for speedy access. If the local .ost file should corrupt, delete it and recreate the profile with zero loss of data. In my opinion this is the way to go. It costs some modest fee but well worth it.. You can go for the full with office license or the email only license, which is less expensive.

Check out their web site. You can find the exchange only option (no office) on the business tab. They will provide you an "ugly" email address but i suggest registering a domain at ~$20 per year. The cost for the "business essentials" plan is currently $5 per user per month.
https://products.office.com/en-us/compa ... :primaryr1

~Moshe

Moshe,

I did create another Outlook profile and it worked. I have done this before and everything was intact without any issues. This time, I got my email, but not my calendar and contacts. I can figure out the calendar for the most part but I rely on Outlook for contact emails. I now have to go into my sent mail to find contact emails. It works but slowly until I repopulate my contacts.

This is the final straw for using 2010 Outlook. I need to change my email system. I am intrigued by Outlook 365 and the cost would be worth it not to have to learn a totally new email system. Having my own domain would eliminate my ISP from the equation but may introduce unknown challenges. What security software would I need if I have my own domain? I currently use Norton and Malwarebytes and the combination seems to do a good job of protecting me. Are there other considerations for having my own domain?

Forgive my skepticism, but the design flaw in desktop Outlook that allows corruption would seem to carry over, at least to some degree with the cloud version. OTOH, I never encountered the file corruption problem until about 6 months ago, and I have run the desktop version exclusively for the last 9 years. One side of me wonders if there is something about the older 2010 Outlook version that is contributing to the problem. I would like your thoughts on the potential for corruption in Outlook 365.

Thanks again. You have been very helpful.
Carolinaman

moshe
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Re: Outlook email PST file is corrupt, need advice

Post by moshe » Mon Nov 11, 2019 6:46 pm

A pleasure.

Unfortunately as i stated earlier i do not necessarily agree with your thesis that Outlook itself is the source of your problems as it may not be unless your local .pst store is huge and i do not believe this is true in your case.

If you are still using the same hardware as when you originality purchased Office 2010 i would question the hard drive itself especially if it is more than 4 years old.

Have you considered hiring a local IT professional? I think you might be well served to do so before making the transition to Office 365.

All the best,
~Moshe
My money has no emotions. ~Moshe | | I'm the world's greatest expert on my own opinion. ~Bruce Williams

lazydavid
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Re: Outlook email PST file is corrupt, need advice

Post by lazydavid » Mon Nov 11, 2019 7:16 pm

carolinaman wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 9:26 am
I am considering Office 365 for my laptop but wondering if I will just be transferring the problem to my laptop since the data corruption problem seems to be a design flaw in Outlook.
You will not have this issue. Or rather, if you ever do, you would just delete your outlook profile and then log in again. Outlook would connect to O365 and re-download your mailbox into a brand new OST. Back in business in a couple of minutes.

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JAZZISCOOL
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Re: Outlook email PST file is corrupt, need advice

Post by JAZZISCOOL » Mon Nov 11, 2019 8:18 pm

Hello,

I have a related Outlook question. A wise BH may know the answer....

I use Outlook through MS Office Home and Business 2016 (pc based version; laptop is fairly new from 2018). It becomes unresponsive once in a while and I think it is because I have a number of folders/emails.

I believe there is an "archive" function but I read a long time ago that that was not a good idea to use archive (although that could have been the opinion within a prior megacorp IT dept.)

I would like to archive some of my saved emails but want to make sure this is a good idea in order to get Outlook to run more smoothly. Or, maybe there is a better solution.

I have used scanpst with success a couple of times.

Thanks all. :happy

RetiredAL
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Location: SF Bay Area

Re: Outlook email PST file is corrupt, need advice

Post by RetiredAL » Tue Nov 12, 2019 12:45 am

JAZZISCOOL wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 8:18 pm
Hello,

I have a related Outlook question. A wise BH may know the answer....

I use Outlook through MS Office Home and Business 2016 (pc based version; laptop is fairly new from 2018). It becomes unresponsive once in a while and I think it is because I have a number of folders/emails.

I believe there is an "archive" function but I read a long time ago that that was not a good idea to use archive (although that could have been the opinion within a prior megacorp IT dept.)

I would like to archive some of my saved emails but want to make sure this is a good idea in order to get Outlook to run more smoothly. Or, maybe there is a better solution.

I have used scanpst with success a couple of times.

Thanks all. :happy
Jazzy,

I see no one has answered this yet. I'm not at home where I use Outlook, so this is off the top of my head.

Outlook generally has an INBOX and ARCHIVE file. But you can have more.

You first have to create the filename using data tab or something like that. Same general area where "compact" is. After you do that, that filename will show when you draw down the left pane. Then I create a folder in this new file such as YR2018. If you create the folder in the wrong file, no problem, just drag to the file you want it in. You can highlight the messages in the inbox and drag them to the new file name. I routinely do this with old msgs, so my inbox is just the 15 months or so and older msgs are moved. I watch the file to keep it around 1 GB. I have 3 or 4 store files.

I never had Outlook choke over too big a PST file, but I backup all my data to USB drives and that copy chokes at 2+ GB because they are ExtFat. When that happened to me, I just made another PST file and split the offending file by moving some folders to the new file.

Lastly, space contraction within a PST file is not dynamic. Enlargement is dynamic. After you removed folders/msgs, you must "compact" to resize the actual file.

If you need more pointing as to how to do this, I'll be home Wed where I can look at the actual items to do this.

Also, if you create the files under regular filemanager, Outlook will not use them. However, once created by Outlook, you can replace the file using filemanager. I did that when I built a new Win10 machine and moved my PST files from the XP Box. Outlook version were different too. Outlook whines silently when this is done, because it will replace one or more of the control files, but to you that will be transparent. I've also done that when restoring an older system image then restoring the latest PST backups over the older files. My image backups are separate from my data backups. The big data stores, pictures and videos, are on a separate disk drive. Although I could tell Outlook to use my data disk,I kept the default Win10 location, but I do periodically copy those PST files to my data disk.

Topic Author
carolinaman
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Location: North Carolina

Re: Outlook email PST file is corrupt, need advice

Post by carolinaman » Tue Nov 12, 2019 8:18 am

lazydavid wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 7:16 pm
carolinaman wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 9:26 am
I am considering Office 365 for my laptop but wondering if I will just be transferring the problem to my laptop since the data corruption problem seems to be a design flaw in Outlook.
You will not have this issue. Or rather, if you ever do, you would just delete your outlook profile and then log in again. Outlook would connect to O365 and re-download your mailbox into a brand new OST. Back in business in a couple of minutes.
Thanks lazydavid. That was my biggest hesitation in moving to Office 365

Topic Author
carolinaman
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Re: Outlook email PST file is corrupt, need advice

Post by carolinaman » Tue Nov 12, 2019 8:36 am

moshe wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 6:46 pm
A pleasure.

Unfortunately as i stated earlier i do not necessarily agree with your thesis that Outlook itself is the source of your problems as it may not be unless your local .pst store is huge and i do not believe this is true in your case.

If you are still using the same hardware as when you originality purchased Office 2010 i would question the hard drive itself especially if it is more than 4 years old.

Have you considered hiring a local IT professional? I think you might be well served to do so before making the transition to Office 365.

All the best,
~Moshe
Moshe,
You make a good point about the hardware. My PC is more than 5 years old. There seems to be multiple issues that may be contributing to this. The hard drive has become very sluggish over time and its slow responsiveness is very annoying. My new Lenovo laptop has a SSD and is lightning fast. My evolving plan is to get Office 365 for it and use it for my home computing. I can buy a larger monitor to connect to it for less than $200 which will replicate what I have with a newer processor, latest software and SSD.

Like so many things in PCs, it is often better to start fresh than to spend time and dollars trouble shooting an old system where I am likely only to yield incremental gain at best. I do have a Geeksquad subscription, so I may give them a shot at this first. I got the subscription mainly for TV and have been underwhelmed so far with their expertise over the phone (their on site TV techs are excellent), but it is worth a try.

Thanks again.

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JAZZISCOOL
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Re: Outlook email PST file is corrupt, need advice

Post by JAZZISCOOL » Tue Nov 12, 2019 8:47 am

Hi RetiredAL:

Thanks for your detailed response above about my Outlook archiving question above. I will give your suggestions a try!

:happy

moshe
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Re: Outlook email PST file is corrupt, need advice

Post by moshe » Tue Nov 12, 2019 9:17 am

carolinaman wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 8:36 am

Like so many things in PCs, it is often better to start fresh than to spend time and dollars trouble shooting an old system where I am likely only to yield incremental gain at best.
This!

New PCs are very reasonable right now. Stick with a Solid State Hard Drive (SSD) on any new systems. I would go at least 512GB in order to ensure longer drive life as the larger the SSD the less any individual cell is rewritten. In any event the Mean Time Between Failure on the SSDs is usually quite impressive but failures can and do occur even with SSD's so backup early and often. Office 365 will eliminate your need to backup your mail store unless you want to preserve for accidental info erasure error, historical or legal purposes. I suggest doing a local export to your PC of your O365 store at least once a month or more/less depending on your comfort level. It is very easy to do this.

All the best,
~Moshe
My money has no emotions. ~Moshe | | I'm the world's greatest expert on my own opinion. ~Bruce Williams

RetiredAL
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Re: Outlook email PST file is corrupt, need advice

Post by RetiredAL » Wed Nov 13, 2019 4:30 pm

JAZZISCOOL wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 8:47 am
Hi RetiredAL:

Thanks for your detailed response above about my Outlook archiving question above. I will give your suggestions a try!

:happy
I left you a PM.

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