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Repairing Damaged or Oversized Outlook PST Files

Microsoft Outlook uses what is called a PST file or Personal Folders File to store your email, contacts and calendar data etc. in one central location. Each Outlook user will have their own PST file for storing their email data. If this file gets damaged or becomes corrupt then you will have issues accessing your information in Outlook or may not be able to open your PST file at all.

Microsoft provides the Inbox Repair Tool for correcting most problems with damaged Personal Folders (pst) files. If you do not see the Inbox Repair Tool on the Start menu under Programs, Accessories, then System Tools then you can do a search for scanpst.exe on your hard drive and run it from there.

When you run Scanpst.exe, it performs a number of tests. If it finds errors, it asks whether you want to make a backup copy of the original file (always say Yes), then tries to correct the errors.

Location of pst file
The default location of your Outlook pst file is on your Windows drive at

C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

Where username is the name that you use to log into the computer.

Make sure your computer has the show hidden files and folders option enabled. If not, go to My Computer, then Tools and then Folder Options. Click the View tab and check the Show hidden files and folders radio button and click Ok.

Oversized pst file
Microsoft has a tool to create a truncated copy of a .pst file allowing some recovery when the file size has reached over 2 gigs. The copy does not keep all the original data because the tool cuts a user defined amount of data from the file.

You must have 2 GB of free hard disk space to make a copy of the .pst file. The utility truncates the .pst file to under 2 GB. To have enough working space, truncate the file between 20 to 25 megabytes less than the 2 GB limit. The truncated data is removed from the new copy, which means some messages will be missing from the recovered copy.

You can download the download the 2gb152.exe file here.

Supported Operating Systems: Windows 2000; Windows XP


Double click the 2gb152.exe file to extract it to an empty folder. You should have five files.

Double click the Pst2gb.exe program.

Click Browse to select the oversized .pst file, and then click Open.

Click Create, select the name and location of the truncated data file that you want to create, and then click Save.

Type in the amount of the data that you want to truncate in the .pst file. There is not a correct amount that you use. You can receive the best results if you use 20 to 25 MB, but you may have to truncate more or less. For example, if you truncate 25 MB of data and the process works, repeat the process and truncate the original oversize .pst file by only 15 MB. If that works, then try the process with 5 MB. If 25 MB does not work, repeat the process and truncate the original .pst by 35 MB. If the process does not work, increase the amount until the process is successful.

Run the Inbox Repair Tool (the Scanpst.exe file) on the smaller .pst file.

Open the repaired .pst file in Outlook.

If the file opens, right-click the root folder of the .pst, click Properties, and then click Compact Now to start the compression. For a file of this size, the compression may take approximately 4-8 hours. (This step is recommended but the step is optional).

If the file does not open, discard the truncated .pst file, and repeat the process with the original .pst file. Truncate more data than in the first attempt, and try the process again.


Related Tips:
Exporting Your Outlook PST File
The Difference Between Outlook and Outlook Express
Allow Outlook 2003 to Display HTML Images in E-mail
Outlook Attachment Security Unlock Applet
The Differences Between POP3 and IMAP E-mail


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