PST File Recovery

I always told clients how important it is to have computer backups and have done 100’s of data backup setups for clients. My data backup measures also always included PST backups incase a PST file ever got corrupt. Well as the story goes, even the cobbler has holes in his shoes. On one occasion I was in-between testing out a new data backup program and deleted my old backups. Just then I suffered a hard drive failure. Long story short I got my PST file back but it was corrupt. I have recovered many corrupt PST files for clients and was confident I could recover my PST file. After all I could not tell clients “Sorry I did not get your e-mail or respond because my computer crashed and my PST file was corrupt”. How embarrassing would that be for a computer repair expert always preaching about the importance of data backups.

Recover PST File Part 1.

First thing’s first. Make a copy of your corrupt PST file. The goal is to not make matters worse. If our recover efforts fail we still have the original PST file and no more damage has been done to the file. The location of your pst file will most likely be as follows

XP: C:\documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

Vista / Windows 7: c:\users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook

USERNAME is your user name for your account.

Copy the pst file to a known location like My Documents or your desktop. Just remember where you place the copy. This is the file we are going to be working with.

HINT: You may need to first show hidden files and folder on your computer first in order to view the above folder and file paths.

XP:

  1. Start Windows Explorer.
  2. On the Toolsmenu, clickFolder Options.
  3. Click the View tab.
  4. Under Hidden files and folders, click Show hidden files and folders, and then click the OK button.

To show hidden files and folders in Windows Vista and 7, do the following:

  1. Go to the Control Panel.
  2. Click Appearance and Personalization.
  3. Click Folder Options.
  4. Click the View tab.

Under Advanced Settings, click Show hidden files and folders, and then click OK.

Recover PST File Part 2.

The Fun Begins. We will be using a free method first to recover your corrupt pst file. In about 50% of all cases this method should work. It only repairs header information. However this is the cause of most pst file corruption. At least from my personal experience.

We are going to be using the built in Inbox Repair Tool that comes with Office. You can scan the original pst file in the default location as long as you followed the above and made a backup of the file first and saved it in a known file location.

Vista/ Win 7 using Microsoft Outlook 2003:

  • Click Start, type %ProgramFiles%\Common Files\System\MSMAPI\1033\ in the Start Search box, and then press ENTER.
  • Find and then double-click SCANPST.EXE to start the Inbox Repair Tool.
  • In the Enter the name of the file you want to scan box, type the path and file name of the Outlook .pst file
  • Click Start.
  • After the Inbox Repair Tool operation is complete, click OK.

Vista/ Win 7 using Microsoft Outlook 2007:

  • Click Start, type %ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Office\Office12\ in the Start Search box, and then press ENTER.
  • Find and then double-click SCANPST.EXE to start the Inbox Repair Tool.
  • In the Enter the name of the file you want to scan box, type the path and file name of the Outlook .pst file
  • Click Start.
  • After the Inbox Repair Tool operation is complete, click OK.

In Windows XP:

  • Click Start, and then click Search.
  • Click All Files and Folders.
  • In the All or part of the file name box, type Scanpst.exe.
  • Change the selection in the Look in box to the local hard disk. For example, change the selection to Local Disk (C:).
  • Click Search.
  • When the search is complete, double-click SCANPST.EXE to start the Inbox Repair Tool.
  • In the Enter the name of the file you want to scan box, type the path and file name of the Outlook .pst file that you found in step 2.
  • Click Start.
  • After the Inbox Repair Tool operation is complete, click OK.

If you repaired the backup PST file you created then you will need to import that file into Outlook. If you scanned and repaired the original file you can open Outlook and see if the repair was successful. If it was not then proceed to Part 3.

Recover PST File Part 3. Advanced Recovery

At this time you are going to need to purchase a PST Recovery program in order to repair your corrupt pst file. Ensure you followed the Part 2. Instructions first as that often times will solve your issue for free. The program you need to purchase is HERE. It’s called PST file Recovery. Very simple name for a advanced pst recovery program. I would of named it Save MY Butt or something similar because this program rocks. It is expensive but get’s the job done.

Once purchased install the program and start it up. Click on the “Repair PST File” button.

PST Recovery Software

Select the PST File you want to repair (Either your Backup or the Original)

Select PST File

Choose where you want to save the repaired PST file once you have done the repair

Select location where repaired pst file will be located

Hit the Start Recovery button and get ready to start smiling!

start pst repair

View your recovered e-mails, calendar and contacts and start breathing easy again.

view repaired pst file

Now you can take the recovered .PST file in import it into Outlook. All should be right with the world and you should have all your contacts, e-mails, calendar and journal entries. You are now a pro at recovering Outlook PST Files. Be sure to tell others about your experience. If nothing else it will scare them into making a backup so they don’t ever have to run the repair themselves. If they do some day run into it be sure to recommend our guide out to them as I and you know it works.

Final Step

Now that Your PST File is recovered and repaired we need to make a backup of the .pst file so if it becomes corrupt again we will not have to worry about if we can recover it or not. I found a great guide here that gives you a few options for how to backup outlook pst files. You can also just use whatever data backup software you like to use and ensure to include the .pst file location or do a full backup of your computer and it will include the .pst file in it for you. Alternatively you can use the Free Windows Outlook Backup Add in.

Final Thoughts

There are times when a hard drive fails and your pst file becomes corrupt due to bad sectors. If your hard drive has failed and you need to recover your pst file from that drive you can install the hard drive into another computer as a secondary hard drive. See Install Second Hard drive or How to Remove Hard Drive.

Once mounted on the other computer you can browse down to the location of your PST file on the second hard drive. The paths shown above in this guide should help. However they will not be on the C:\ drive. It will be on what ever drive letter was assigned to your hard drive. You can now just copy that .pst file and import it into your Re-installed O/S or need hard drive that was setup from the crashed one.

If the file can not be found due to data corruption you can use Recover My Files. This program can scan your drive for the .pst file and from there you can copy it over to the new hard drive or make a backup of it. If the file is corrupt you can follow the above guide to repair the corrupt pst file.

A lot of if’s but lastly if the corrupt pst file can not be repaired with the two programs above and it’s from a crashed hard drive you can try running HDD Regenerator on the drive. This program repairs damaged sectors on hard drives. It may take a whole day to run the program but once done, you can attempt to copy the pst file again or run the above two pst recovery programs on the file. The idea is if the pst file was on bad sectors and those sectors get repaired you will be able to use the file again as the missing junks to the file were restored. This is rare but I ran into it a few times and had to go this route to recover corrupt pst files and other such files like photos, databases and documents.

 

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