Step by Step Guide to Repair PST Files in Outlook?

Summary: A corrupt PST file may create various issues with your Outlook application or even make your Outlook inaccessible. Therefore, it is important to repair the PST file as soon as possible. We’ll walk you through the process of repairing PST files in Outlook 2010, 2013, 2016, 2021. In this post, we’ve discussed the step-by-step procedure to repair PST files by using the Microsoft Outlook Inbox Repair tool. 

We have also mentioned a third-party PST repair tool that can help you repair severely corrupt PST files of any size, in a few simple steps.

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Outlook 2010, 2013, 2016, and 2021 are widely used email clients that rely on Personal Storage Table (PST) files to store critical mailbox data. Microsoft Outlook creates Personal Storage Table (PST) files when configured with a POP account. The PST file stores all the mailbox data, such as emails, attachments, calendars, contacts, etc.

However, sometimes, the PST file gets corrupted due to reasons, such as abrupt system shutdown, improper Outlook shutdown, Windows crash, virus attack, etc.

When the PST file gets corrupted, you may face issues with your Outlook application or encounter errors. Therefore, it is crucial to repair the PST file as soon as possible. In this post, we will be discussing the step-by-step process to repair the corrupt PST file.


Table of Contents:

How to Repair PST Files in Outlook 2013/2016/2021?

You can repair corrupt PST files by using the built-in Microsoft Outlook Inbox Repair tool (SCANPST.EXE) or a third-party PST repair tool, such as Stellar Repair for Outlook.

Step-by-Step-Guide-to-Repair-PST-Files-in-Outlook (1)

Repair Outlook PST Files Using SCANPST.EXE

SCANPST.EXE or Inbox Repair Tool is used to diagnose and repair corrupt Outlook data files. You can use this tool to repair minor corruption in your PST file. Follow the below-mentioned steps to repair the PST file.

Note: Before proceeding, make sure that you exit Outlook.

Step1: Start the Inbox Repair Tool- Repair Outlook Data File

  • Start the Inbox Repair Tool Automatically
  • Start the SCANPST.EXE tool
  • From the “File Download” dialog box, select “Open” or “Run”. Then, follow the wizard.
  • Once the tool is started, switch to STEP 2

Start the Inbox Repair Tool Manually

If the tool is not started automatically, try to start it manually. To do so,

  • Browse to the C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14.
  • Open the SCANPST.EXE tool.

Additional reading, How to Repair PST when ScanPST is not responding?

Step 2: Repair the Corrupt PST File

Once the SCANPST.EXE tool is opened, follow the below steps:

  • Click on “Browse” to locate and select the PST file you want to repair. Note: If you don’t know the exact location of your corrupt PST file, visit this link to locate the PST file.
  • Next, click on “Start” to start the scanning process.
  • Then, click on “Repair” to start the repair process.

Note: When you click on “Repair”, the process creates a backup of the scanned file automatically. If you want the backup, enter the desired location where you want to save the backup. Otherwise, don’t select the “Take backup of scanned file before repairing” option in the wizard.

  • Once the repair process is complete, open MS Outlook with the same profile associated with the Outlook Data File you have just repaired.

Also Read: How to Fix Outlook Not Accepting Password?

Step 3: Recover Repaired Data to a New Data File

  • Open Outlook and navigate to the Folder pane.
  • Locate the folder with the name “Recovered Personal Folders” that consists of your default Outlook folders or the “Lost and Found” folder.
  • The repair process may recreate some empty folders. The “Lost and Found” folder contains folders and items that are recovered by the SCANPST.EXE tool. Outlook can’t place them in their original structure.
  • You can create a new Outlook data file.
  • Drag and drop the repaired items from the “Lost and Found” folder into the new data file.
  • Once you have moved all the repaired data, you can remove the “Recovered Personal Folders” and the “Lost and Found” folder. 
Limitations of SCANPST.EXE
    • You need to run the SCANPST.EXE several times to fully repair a single PST file.
    • The tool is unable to repair severely corrupt PST files.
    • There is a substantial risk of losing the data.

Also Read: How to Recover Deleted Folders from Outlook?

Situations where scanpst.exe fails to repair .PST files

When using scanpst.exe to repair .PST files, you might face a few hurdles. Here’s how to handle them:

1.  Repair Process Fails:

If the repair PST file process doesn’t work initially, try running the Outlook repair tool again. For persistent issues, transferring data to a new . PST file might help. In extreme cases, a backup or third-party software might be necessary, especially for large ANSI files nearing 1.8GB. However, it’s possible that even after repeat attempts, the repair won’t be successful. 

2. Repeated Repair Prompt:

Should repair prompts continue post-repair, it might be due to residual Registry keys. Manually removing the “PromptRepair” key can resolve this. However, this method isn’t reliable enough to depend upon. 

3. Large .PST Files:

ANSI .PST files have a size limit of about 1.8GB. If your file is this size and won’t open, it’s likely due to this limit.  For PST file repair concerning large ANSI files, creating a new Unicode file is advisable. This circumvents the size limitations associated with older formats. You can try copying its contents to a new Unicode .PST file, which doesn’t have this size limit. If the file won’t open, use the pst2gb tool to reduce its size. Again, the method isn’t fully reliable. 

4. Tool Doesn’t Recognize File:

If the Outlook repair tool fails to recognize a file, it might not be a .PST file or it’s severely corrupted. Ensure the file type is correct or seek advanced recovery options.

Also Read: How to Fix Outlook Error Code ‍0x80070021?

Repair PST Files Using Third-Party PST Repair Tool

To overcome the above limitations and repair PST files quickly and easily, use a third-party PST repair tool, such as Stellar Repair for Outlook. The software is integrated with advanced algorithms that help repair severely corrupt PST files of any size effortlessly. It has a user-friendly interface and any user can repair the PST file using this tool with ease.

Follow the below-mentioned steps to repair corrupt PST files using Stellar Repair for Outlook:

  • Download, install, and launch the Stellar Repair for Outlook software.
    Stellar Download
  • Click on “Browse” and select the corrupt PST file you wish to repair.
  • Click on the “Repair” button, and the repairing process initiates.
  • When the repair process is complete, the software lists all the items of the repaired PST file. Preview the items.
    Repair PST Files
  • Navigate to “Save Repaired File” in the “Home” tab. Click on it to save the repaired PST file.
    Repair PST Files
  • In the Save As window, you will see multiple file-saving formats. You can save the repaired file in PST, MSG, EML, RTF, HTML, or PDF format.
    Repair PST Files
  • Once you have selected the desired file format, click on “Browse” and choose a new location to save the repaired PST file.

Additional Reading,  How to fix the “Microsoft Outlook Inbox Repair Tool does not recognize the file” error

Watch Video to Repair Corrupt Outlook PST File – Stellar Repair for Outlook

How to Prevent PST file corruptions?

To enhance the health of your Outlook data files and prevent PST file corruption, be proactive. 

  • Firstly, ensure that your system is stable to prevent Outlook from crashing during operations, as this can lead to corrupted PST files. Regularly backing up your PST files is also a wise strategy to safeguard your data.
  • Ensuring that Outlook shuts down properly is another key step; lingering processes can cause issues similar to crashes. It’s also wise to audit your Outlook add-ins; some might not function as intended and could harm your data files. Disabling these add-ins temporarily can help identify the troublesome ones. 
  • Storing your PST file on a local drive rather than network shares or cloud storage is advisable, as these locations can lead to data corruption and performance issues. Microsoft does not support storing PST files on network shares due to the risk of data loss and corruption. 
  • Finally, while cloud storage offers convenience, it’s not suited for PST files due to potential syncing conflicts. For cloud-based needs, consider using services specifically designed for email storage, such as 

By following these guidelines, you can maintain the integrity of your Outlook data files and reduce the need for PST file repair. 

Also Read: Error Solved: Microsoft Outlook Won’t Open or Start

To Sum Things Up

Outlook PST files may get corrupted due to various reasons, such as virus attacks, storage media damage, improper Outlook shutdown, etc. Whether you’re using Outlook 2010, 2013, or 2016, knowing how to repair these files is essential. However, you can repair the PST file easily by using the above-mentioned methods. You can use SCANPST.EXE to fix minor corruption issues in the PST file. In case the file is severely corrupt, use Stellar Repair for Outlook to repair the file. The software can easily repair severely corrupt PST files without any file size limitations. It recovers all mailbox items, such as emails, contacts, calendars, notes, etc. from the corrupt PST file.

Also Read: How to Fix Outlook Login Error: Comprehensive Guide


  • What causes Outlook PST file corruption?

Outlook PST file corruption can be caused by exceeding size limits, sudden shutdowns, software issues, virus attacks, network problems, hard drive issues, conflicting add-ins, improper termination, and upgrading Outlook versions. Regular backups, staying within size limits, and maintaining a stable computing environment can help prevent corruption.

  • How often does one need to back up PST Files?

Back up your Outlook PST file regularly based on your usage patterns. For most users, a weekly or bi-weekly schedule is sufficient, while frequent or critical changes may warrant more frequent backups. Consider backing up before the system changes and use automated solutions if available. Store backups securely, and test the restore process periodically.

  • Why do PST files get corrupted?

PST files can get corrupted due to various reasons such as improper shutdowns, hardware failures, software issues, large file sizes, or issues with the Outlook application itself. These factors can lead to data corruption within the PST file, making it inaccessible or causing errors when trying to open or use it in Outlook. Regular maintenance, such as compacting PST files and keeping them within reasonable size limits, can help mitigate the risk of corruption.

  • How can I fix a PST file without ScanPST?

To repair a PST file without ScanPST, use a third-party Outlook repair tool like Stellar Repair for Outlook.

Also Read: How to Repair PST Files Without SCANPST?

  • Why does Outlook repeatedly ask to fix PST files?

Outlook might keep asking due to unresolved issues or registry errors even after a successful PST file repair.

  • How do I shrink or fix PST files?

Use Outlook’s built-in Compact feature or a PST file repair tool for repairing Outlook data files.

  • What signs indicate a PST file is corrupt?

Signs include error messages, missing emails, and Outlook crashes, signaling a need for PST file repair.

  • Can oversized PST files lead to corruption?

Yes, large PST files exceed size limits and require how to repair PST file methods to prevent corruption.

  • How to prevent PST file corruption in the future?

Regular backups, cautious use of add-ins, and avoiding PST file storage on network drives can prevent corruption.

Read what have experts said on Top Solution to Repair Corrupt PST Files 

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