Warning signs that your Outlook PST is corrupted

Bharat BhushanSolution Manager
Experts in data recovery from corrupt Exchange mailboxes, SQL database, and Outlook emails.
While it's a fact that PST file corruption is the root cause of a majority of Outlook errors, in this post we’ve listed all the signs that can help you make sure if the real reason behind your troubled Outlook is a corrupted PST.

Spotting problem-causing factors within troublesome MS Outlook application can be tough. There would hardly be a user who wouldn’t recommend Outlook as the best email client. It’s laced with some great features and is known for its user-friendliness. But that doesn’t mean it is always error-free.

Warning pop-ups, application crashes, and freezes are not uncommon in Outlook and more often than not, the reason behind inexplicable Outlook behavior can be corruption within its PST file. That said, with an application as versatile as Outlook, you can never be certain if the problem causing factor is a faulty add-in, a messed up profile, damaged system files, or a corrupted PST.

Thus, through this article, we’ve tried to list down a few definite signs that can help you become certain that your Outlook PST is corrupted. If you spot any of these indications, you don’t have to waste time finding out what’s wrong; instead, you can get straight to the business of repairing the corrupt PST and bringing Outlook back to life.

Sure-shot Indications of Corruption in Outlook PST file

If you encounter any of the following abnormalities while working with Outlook, you should suspect PST file damage:

  • If Outlook “hangs” suddenly while you’re working with it to perform a task such as moving messages to a folder
  • If simple actions (such as creating a new Email message) take an unusually long time to complete
  • If Outlook just “closes without warning"
  • If Outlook fails to start-up
  • If you are confronted with an error pop-up with one of the following messages:

o“The set of folders cannot be opened. Errors have been detected in the file <path to PST-file>”

o“Quit Outlook and all mail-enabled applications, then use inbox repair tool (Scanpst.exe) to diagnose and repair errors in the file”

o“Errors have been detected in the file <path to PST-file>”

o“The file <path to PST-file> is not an Outlook data file (PST)”

These symptoms will definitely let you know your Outlook PST is corrupted, but they won’t solve anything. The solution lies in finding out why your Outlook PST file got corrupted in the first place and then figuring out a reliable way to repair the corrupt PST.

Most common reasons behind PST file corruption

A quick look at Outlook technical forums across the Internet reveals that PST files get corrupted because:

  • They have either become very large in size or have reached their maximum size limit
  • They have been infected with virus or malware
  • Your system “crashed” while your Outlook session was running
  • Your Outlook session didn't terminate properly
  • The hard drive on which the PST file was saved developed bad sectors
  • You moved a large number of messages between various folders

Any of these seem like something that happened to your system recently? Well, it’s time for you to repair that Outlook PST and salvage all the data saved within it.

Repair corrupt PST with ScanPST.exe

Microsoft provides a default Inbox Repair Utility called ScanPST.exe with every MS Office installation to find and fix minor corruptions within Outlook PST files. Thus, if you come across any indication that your Outlook PST is corrupted, here’s how you can use this utility to repair the file:

  1. First, find where your Outlook PST is located. For this, in Outlook go to File -> Info -> Account Settings-> Data Files. Here you will find a list of all PST files on your system. Note the path of the PST file which indicates your default Outlook profile
  2. Thereafter, quit all running instances of Outlook
  3. Now navigate to the MS Office installation directory on your computer (You can perform a Windows Search for the file “SCANPST.EXE” to find it easily)
  4. Double-click on ScanPST.exe and ‘Browse’ to point it to the PST file whose path you noted
  5. Click on Start to initiate scanning of the PST file

Once it completes running, you will receive either the notification “No errors were found” or that “Errors were found”. If any errors were indeed detected, you will be prompted to click on the “Repair” button to allow ScanPST.exe to fix the errors it detected. However, you should know a few things about the repair process it carries out before you think of completely relying on this utility:

  • The repair process takes a long time to complete (this, of course, depends on the size of your PST file)
  • Your PST file might not be repaired completely since ScanPST.exe cannot handle severe corruption
  • Some data might be deleted from your PST file if ScanPST.exe is not able to fix it

In order to overcome these side-effects of the utility and still be able to repair the damaged PST, you need a more advanced and sophisticated software application to carry out a non-destructive repair process on the file. This is a task best handled by Stellar Phoenix Outlook PST Repair.

The best alternative to ScanPST.exe

Stellar Phoenix Outlook PST Repair is a professional tool that quickly scans corrupt PST and repairs and restores all mailbox contents stored in it. The repaired email items are saved as a new usable PST file which can be directly imported into MS Outlook. Packed with advanced features this product is a safe, reliable, and most competent alternative to ScanPST.exe. It helps you repair PST file in a non-destructive manner while overcoming all drawbacks of the inbox repair utility.  


MS Outlook is one of the most powerful emailing platforms, but it can sometimes be bogged down by errors that need correcting. When the cause of Outlook errors is a badly damaged PST file, Microsoft’s ScanPST.exe can come to the rescue to repair PST files; however, its features are limited. Repairing damaged PST files is, therefore, something only a reliable product like Stellar Phoenix Outlook PST Repair should take charge of. Use this product to keep your Outlook PST problem-free. Also, cultivate the habit of backing up and archiving PST files regularly and keep purging them of old unnecessary data whenever possible.

Bharat BhushanSolution Manager
Experts in data recovery from corrupt Exchange mailboxes, SQL database, and Outlook emails.

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