How to restore a corupted Personal Address Book?

Posted on 2003-02-21
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2008-02-01
I have problen creating a new contact in my Contact list, and also when trying to plan a meeting and adding an attendee. The message i receive says that my .pab file is corrupted and then i the outlook shuts down.
any ideas?
thank you.
Question by:OOM
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Accepted Solution

Hendro earned 100 total points
ID: 7994142

mailbox.pab is all your e-mails, contacts database stored under your profile.

If Outlook says it's corrupt them you gonna have to create a new one.

Try to do a backup of everything by doing a Export from Outlook to backup.pst

If this doesn't work then you will have to re-create your Outlook client and YOU WILL LOOSE YOUR E-MAIL INFO.

Expert Comment

ID: 7994197
There's nothing in life just as important as the people you know, and there's nothing in Outlook Express as important as your contacts. That's why creating a backup copy of them is a good idea.

To back up or copy your Outlook Express address book, select Tools | Address Book... from Outlook Express' menu to open the address book. Now choose File | Export | Other Address Book... from the menu and select Text File (Comma Separated Values) as the export format. Click Export, select the location you want to export your address book to using the Browse... button and give your backup copy a meaningful name. Click Next and select the fields you want to include in your back up. Finally select Finish and click OK and Close to end the process (successfully, I hope).

Hopefully you will not need it, but here's how to restore your Outlook Express address book from the backup copy.

Note: exporting the Outlook Express address book using the method described above only works if you do not share your Outlook Express contacts with Outlook. You can back up a shared address book together with other Outlook data

Expert Comment

ID: 7994228
How to backup Outlook Express (OE) Email and transfer settings to another PC:

Introduction , Backup, Restore & Problem Solution
Microsoft Outlook Express (OE) is a powerful FREE email client that (in most cases) comes already with your Windows installation In the following text we share our experiences to help you to make most out of this tool.

Disclaimer: The Tips & Tricks in the following are based on our knowledge and experience. However, since we - just like you - are only users of this software you should consult with Microsoft if you need reliable advice or support. Nevertheless, if you should spot any error and omissions in this text, we would like to hear from you at our feedback form so that we can improve this page.

 Forgot or lost your Dial-up, Outlook or Outlook Express password? Use a password finder like iOpus Password Recovery XP to display the stored SMTP and POP login passwords instantly.  


Backup your Outlook Express Data: Step by Step...
Outlook express data consists of the several parts.
Email messages
Account settings
Address Book (if used)
Mail rules (if any)
1. Email Messages:
From the Outlook Express menu select Tools | Options | Maintenance and click the StoreFolder button. You see a dialog with the name of the directory that has your mail files. If you look in that directory you find files named after your mail folders and news groups. They all have a .DBX suffix. Outlook Express keeps all messages in these database files. If you make copies of these files regularly, you'll have a safe backup of your OE mail.  

Restore (if necessary): To restore the backup data, just copy it back to the directory. You can selectively restore folders by just copying specific files back. Alternatively, you can use OE's File | Import | Messages feature to import one or more of the backup folders. Email Account Settings

As far as we know, the procedure works for all kind of email: The regular SMTP / POP3 based email, MAPI, IMAP or even the free Hotmail Account, that is built into Outlook. For Hotmail, however, some messages and settings might be stored only at the Hotmail server ( = somewhere at Microsoft !) and not on your local PC.

2. Account settings:
Data about your mail and news accounts are stored in the registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Account Manager. To save this data, start RegEdit and select that key in the left-hand pane. Then from the menu select Registry | Export Registry File. Save the file to a name like "outlook.reg".  

 Restore (if necessary) To restore the account settings, right-click the .REG file and select Merge.

Note: As an alternative, you can save the data one account at a time through Outlook Express: click Tools | Accounts | Export and specify the name of the file to save the settings. Be sure to save this information for every account.  

3. Address Book
Getting the data out of your address book for safekeeping is relatively easy. From the menu select File | Export | Address Book and select the comma separated text file as your output format. Then select the fields you want to export. To make sure you know where the backup is going, give a full path name. To restore the address book or to get your addresses onto a new system, the process is not quite symmetrical. Select File | Import | Other address book and select the text file option again. You'll be given a list of fields to import. Since you're importing a file that was created by Outlook Express, you usually don't need to make any changes here. After that, click your way on through the wizard and you'll get your address book back.  

How to Save/Export your address book:  
Not a bad idea, but especially important if changing your Outlook Express software.
1.  Open Outlook Express
2.  Click Tools -> Address Book to open the address book
3.  Click File->Export->Address book
4.  Select Text File (Comma Separated Values)
5.  Click the Export Button
6.  Click Browse to select a location for saving your address book
7.  Select a destination folder and enter a filename (your username would make a good filename, but can be anything)
8.  Click Save
9.  Click Next
10. Select the fields to export (be sure to at least select name and email address)
11. Click the Finish button


How to Restore/Import your address book:  
The address book must have previously been saved.
1.  Open Outlook Express
2.  Click Tools -> Address Book to open the address book
3.  Click File->Import->Address book
4.  Select Text File (Comma Separated Values)
5.  Browse to find the address book file you had previously saved
6.  Click Next
7.  Map the fields you want to import (these will probably be selected for you if you're restoring your address book)
8.  Finish

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Expert Comment

ID: 7995703

You are right about Outlook Express but I think OOM is using Microsoft Outlook on Exchange cause he says he also has an error "trying to plan a meeting and adding an attendee". Outlook Express does not have a Calendar to schedule meetings.

He also mentions that it is his *.pab file that is corrupted. *.pab is your client database when you use exchange. When you use Outlook Express it will be *.dbx
LVL 21

Expert Comment

ID: 8004395
PAB is the Personal Address Book and doesn't require an Exchange Server, although it can be used with one in a profile.  

It just requires that you not be running Outlook in Internet Mail Only mode (only a feature in Outlook 98 and 2000 anyway).

When you use Exchange your address list is normally your contacts folder and your Global Address List (GAL).

OOM, your PAB may be corrupt, but the question is are you actually using it for anything?  This is not the same thing as the "Address Book" option, PAB is just one of the options you will see in the Address Book.

If your contacts are in the "Contact" folder they are stored in your PST with the rest of your Outlook Data, and so we can just get rid of the data.

If they are on an Exchange Server mailbox, they are typically on the server and not in your PAB.

What version of Outlook are you using?

To see if the PAB file has any data you might want to bother with, try this:

1.  Search harddrive for *.pab
2.  Hold down the CTRL and the SHIFT keys and RIGHT-CLICK on the .PAB file.
3.  Choose Open With and choose WINWORD or EXCEL
4.  Now the data opens in WORD or EXCEL and although mixed in with gibberish the email address and names are viewable and could be cut and pasted to a document that would be useable.

If there isn't any important data in the PAB file you can just not use it.  It's really a carry over from the pre-Outlook days and not required any longer.

Author Comment

ID: 8008845
Hendro and trava,
you are right. I am using Microsoft OutlookXP, contact list not Personal Address Book, and i am connecting to Exchange server.
when i first installed Outlook XP and setup the profile, i was asked whether i wanred ot move my personal address book items to Contacts and i said yes. But since then although i am NOT using .PAB file, i still have problem with my Contacts folder items.I guess when the items were  oved from PAB file to contacts the corrupted data was carried over.
LVL 21

Assisted Solution

traval earned 100 total points
ID: 8105460
Go to TOOLS->EMAIL ACCOUNTS->VIEW OR CHANGE EXISTING ADDRESS BOOKS OR DIRECTORIES and remove the "Personal Address Book", then restart Outlook and see if you are still getting the error message.

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