How to Repair PST File via scanpst.exe Utility, the Inbox Repair Tool?

An Outlook data file aka PST is prone to corruption due to various reasons. A corrupt PST file is always inaccessible. Also, you may lose all your crucial mailbox content at any time. So to fix this corruption and protect the mailbox content from being lost, you should repair PST file. Learn how...!

Have you been using the Microsoft Outlook client since long? What do you like most about this email client? Of course, the outstanding features and interactive GUI. But there might be something that can trouble you sometimes. And that's mailbox corruption.

Microsoft Outlook client has great features, and it's an easy-to-use application. On the other hand, it has one bad aspect that may cause severe issues for Outlook users. The Outlook data file, commonly known as PST (personal storage table), ain't immune to corruption.

There're various reasons which may cause corruption in an Outlook data file, such as virus infection, sudden system shutdown, abrupt cancellation of Outlook client, hard disk failure, software malfunction, and much more. But PST file size limit is considered the most common reason behind corruption. How?

Outlook Mailbox Corruption

Microsoft Outlook saves an Outlook data file in two formats: ANSI and Unicode. An ANSI PST file is used by Outlook 2002 and earlier versions, whereas Outlook 2003 and later versions use Unicode PST file. Let me help you understand the difference between these two file formats.

Although both are Outlook data files, they have a different size limitation. The size limitation for an ANSI PST file is 2 GB. On the other hand, a Unicode PST file can store 20 GB to 50 GB of mailbox data. Due to this size limitation, an ANSI PST can't store more mailbox content than its specific size limit. And the same rule applies to the Unicode PST file.

Whenever a PST file reaches its maximum size limit, it becomes oversized and starts creating troubles. Due to an oversized PST file, you're likely to face Outlook performance issues. And the worst thing happens when the PST file crosses its maximum size limit. In such a situation, a PST file becomes prone to corruption.

Note: A Unicode PST file is less likely to be corrupt compared to an ANSI PST file. But it doesn't mean that a Unicode PST file is immune to corruption.

Outlook mailbox corruption may put your important email messages and other items at high risk of data loss. If your PST file is corrupt, you may lose your data at any time. In such a critical situation, a valid backup plays an important role. If you take a backup of your Outlook data file regularly, you can successfully restore all the content from the backup.

There are many ways to backup your Outlook Data File, and one of those is to simply make a copy of the PST file and copy it to another location. But if there's no backup available for your Outlook PST file or your backup file is also corrupt, you should try to repair the PST file. In such a scenario, the only way to save your Outlook mailbox data from being lost is to try a repair.

How to Repair PST File?

To repair PST file which is corrupt due to any reason, Microsoft provides you the Inbox Repair tool. It's commonly known as the scanpst.exe utility, a built-in repair tool in Microsoft Outlook client. Below are the key features of the scanpst.exe utility:

  • Being a built-in tool, it's available on your local system. There's no need to download or install it.
  • It can scan corrupt PST file for errors and resolve them.
  • It fixes the header corruption issues and rebuilds the file structure.
  • Also, it can delete the invalid indexes and emails to reindex the PST file.

Microsoft strongly recommends using the scanpst.exe utility whenever corruption takes place in the Outlook data file. Also, it can fix other issues found in the PST file. Sometimes an error message may tell you to use the scanpst.exe utility. One of the most common error messages is shown below:


How to Use the Inbox Repair Tool?

It's very easy to use the Inbox Repair tool. But before you can run the scanpst.exe utility, you must locate its executable file. Generally, the location of scapst.exe depends on the Microsoft Outlook version you're using. Below are the locations of the scanpst.exe utility as per the Microsoft Outlook version:

Microsoft Outlook 2002/XP
C:\Program Files\Common Files\System\MAPI\<locale ID>\

Microsoft Outlook 2003
On 32-bit Windows - C:\Program Files\Common Files\System\MSMAPI\<locale ID>\
On 64-bit Windows - C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\System\MSMAPI\<locale ID>\

Microsoft Outlook 2007
On 32-bit Windows - C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\
On 64-bit Windows - C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office12\

Microsoft Outlook 2010 
On 32-bit Windows - C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\
On 64-bit Windows - C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14\
For 64-bit Outlook - C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\

Microsoft Outlook 2013
On 32-bit Windows - C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15\
On 64-bit Windows - C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15\
For 32-bit Outlook - C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15\

Microsoft Outlook 2016
On 32-bit Windows - C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\
On 64-bit Windows - C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office16\
For 32-bit Windows - C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\

Once you locate the executable file of scanpst.exe utility, double-click it. Now follow the steps shown below:

Step 1: The Microsoft Outlook Inbox Repair Tool window will appear on your screen. Click the Browse... button.

Step 2: On the Select File To Scan window, browse the location where Outlook data files are stored. And then select the corrupt PST file.

Step 3: The selected PST file will be listed in the edit box. Click the Start button to start the scanning process.


Step 4: The scanning process is being conducted. It may take a couple of minutes.

Step 5: Once the scanning process is completed successfully, you can check the report of the errors which were found in the PST file. Now click the Repair button to start the repairing process.

Step 6: Within a few minutes, the repairing process will be completed. Click OK.

In this way, you can successfully repair PST file. But sometimes the scanpst.exe utility may fail or not work due to severe corruption. In such a situation, you should look for professional help, such as for help in forums like asking a question at Experts Exchange, or try tools that are designed for repairing Outlook data files.

There are many vendors in the market which provide PST Repair or PST Recovery tools. Such paid solutions are available with the demo version for free evaluation. So before purchasing any such software, you should download the free demo versions available. By using the demo version, you can check the preview of your mailbox content which you can actually recover from the corrupt PST file. Once you're sure you're satisfied with the results, only then should you purchase the software.

You can refer to this article "What are the best Outlook PST Recovery software solutions?" at the "Slant" website for a list of 7 excellent solutions (even more in the comments section below the article) that was updated on the 12th March 2018.

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