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Fixing corrupted Outlook PST files

Occasionally we still run into users who are using PST files as their message store for email.  PST stands for Personal Storage Table; this is the format that Outlook uses to store emails, calendar events and other information. Outlook 2002 and prior had a maximum file size of 2GB.  From 2003 and upward the maximum PST file size is 20GB. Outlook 2010 default maximum is over 50GB.

One issue that can arise is that if a user had a 2002 PST and upgrades their Outlook to a newer version, their PST does not necessarily upgrade.   So a user could be running Outlook 2007 and still be using a PST with the 2002 format and restrained by the 2GB maximum size limit.

When a PST goes over its maximum size limit, it typically corrupts itself, preventing a user from accessing any new or old email.  Recovery from this is a two-step process, first you must truncate the PST to get it below the 2GB size, and second you must run a repair on the truncated file to repair the damage.


Here are the steps to recover from this issue.

  2. Download the PST2BG executable from Microsoft:
  3. Extract the contects of the package to a folder and run PST2GB.exe. You can ignore that scary warning just click “Continue”.
  4. Click the first Browse button and select the PST file you’re trying to repair. Click the second and choose a new file name where PST2BG can write the resulting file. You’ll also need to choose how much data (in MB) to strip off. Generally, you want to start small and run it multiple times until you get a file that SCANPST can recover. Click the Start button to begin truncating the file.
  5. After PST2GB is done, run SCANPST on the new file that PST2GB created. If SCANPST still can’t repair the file, repeat step 4 above until it can.

At this point it is advisable to upgrade to a newer version of outlook and upgrade your PST.  This can easily be done by creating a new PST in the new version of outlook and importing your old PST in the newly created PST.



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