Free Methods to Repair Corrupt Outlook PST Files

The readers to this blog will get knowledge about all the possible native solutions to repair the corrupt and inaccessible Outlook PST files.

The PST file is the data file for an Outlook account which is created automatically as soon Outlook application is configured with email account. The name of the PST file is same as the email address of account and PST file location remains default until the user changes it deliberately. The complete mailbox is saved in the PST file that categorizes the data into various folders.

How PST becomes corrupted?

For different types of corruption, Outlook gives a certain error. There could be various reasons responsible for PST file corruption like network failure issues, hardware failures, power failures, virus attacks, header file corruptions, software failures, firewall or other application interference, large-sized mailbox, incorrect file system recovery, bad sectors in hard drive, malicious software, etc. Any abrupt changes in the structure of these folders or data will cause corruption and thus an error.

Common Outlook errors due to PST file corruption

  • “Errors have been detected in the file “filename.pst”. Quit Outlook and all mail-enabled applications, and then use the Inbox repair tool (Scanpst.exe) to diagnose and repair errors in the file. For more information about the Inbox repair tool, see Help.”
  • “The file “filename”.pst could not be found.”
  • “Unable to display the folder. The file “filename”.pst could not be accessed. Access denied.”
  • “File “filename”.pst could not be accessed. Data error. Cyclic redundancy check.”
  • “Microsoft Outlook has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience.”
  • “Cannot expand the folder. The set of folders cannot be opened. The file xxxx.pst cannot be opened.”
  • “Can’t move the items. The item could not be moved. It was either already moved or deleted, or access was denied.”
  • “Can’t move the items. Could not Move the item. The original was either moved or deleted, or access was denied.”
  • “Can’t move the items. Could not complete the operation. One or more parameter values are not valid.”
  • “Some items cannot be moved. They were either already moved or deleted, or access was denied.”

Expert Solutions

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Prevent Outlook PST Corruption

Here, we are providing some measures adopting which users can avoid the corruption issue in Outlook PST file. Following are the preventive measures in short-points:

  • Regular backups for Outlook PST files.
  • Keep the system Anti-virus updated.
  • Do not shut computer when an Outlook instance is running in the background.
  • Adopt measures to manage PST size (as per the storage capability).
  • Perform periodic scans on your computer for fine performance.
  • Check network and port connections from time-to-time.
  • Check local hard disks constantly for bad sectors.
  • Delete temporary files and cached files regularly.
  • Avoid downloading malicious links from PST attachments.
  • Trust and download only genuine data material in emails.
  • Check and update installed hardware and drivers regularly.
  • Ensure correct Outlook application launch and exit.

What if PST if already corrupted and inaccessible?

The PST corruption occurs if the user was not aware of the prevention measures or did not pay attention to it. Now, the scenario tells that the Outlook PST file has corrupted and needs repair to get accessible by the users once again. Some users look up to free solution, take the chance to repair the PST files while other users directly go to the third-party automated solution without any risks or efforts involvement.

Here, we would describe some free tricks to repair the corrupt PST and make it active again.

Free Tricks to Repair Corrupt PST File

Primary checks and solutions

This category of free solutions involves some basic tasks to access Outlook data if the fault is minor in level.

  1. Run Outlook in safe mode: Users can try this to fix the issue by typing outlook.exe /safe within Run dialogue box (press Windows button with R alphabet) and click OK.Run Outlook in safe mode
    It would open the Outlook application in safe mode and users can access their PST data. Opening of Outlook in safe mode successfully also indicates that data inaccessibility is due to erratic Outlook Add-ins which can be disabled by navigating to File>Options>Add-ins and then go to Manage COM Add-ins and click Go against it. All the Add-ins would be listed; select all and click Disable option to disable it. Then restart the Outlook application and check if PST data can be accessed.
  2. Verify Internet Settings & Firewall Configuration: Improper Internet Settings and firewall configuration could also be the issue. User can check if the settings are as required and also shut down the unnecessary running applications by side.
  3. Change Server Time-out Period: Some Outlook timeout errors can be resolved through increasing the server timeout period. Perform these steps to increase the server timeout period:
    1. Open Account Settings in Outlook application (as per the version).
    2. Select the affected email account and click on Change option.
    3. Then click on More Settings option on the Account settings page.
    4. In the new window Internet Email Settings, click on the Advanced tab.
    5. Finally, increase server time-out period and then click on OK.

These primary free solutions are helpful only if the corruption issues are due to the related causes and of low level. Another method is utilizing an in-built repair solution by Microsoft.

In-built Utility – ScanPST.exe – Free Way to Repair Corrupt PST Files

Microsoft provides an in-built application namely ScanPST.exe which scans the Outlook PST file and the repair it. This application is also known as Inbox Repair tool. This tool holds capacity to repair PST file of size upto 2GB only and also take good time for the repair process. The major level of corruption repair and recovery of permanently deleted items is not guaranteed with this solution. Users may need to run the application repeatedly to recover complete data. In this method, Recovered folders may be empty and the recovered files may be obtained in the newly created Lost and Found folder by the users after the repair as the PST file is rebuilt then. Also, executing this repair process with Inbox Repair tool may result in further error such as “An unexpected error prevented access to this file. Use ScanDisk to check the disk for errors, and then try using the Inbox Repair tool again.” or “The Microsoft Outlook Inbox Repair Tool does not recognize the file “filename”.pst. No information can be recovered.” or more.

To start repair with ScanPST.exe tool, first ensure that the Outlook application is not open and Show hidden files, folders and drives option is enable that is available in the View tab in the Folder options dialogue box from the Windows File Explorer. This option should be ensured as most of the times the ScanPST.exe file is not reachable as it is a type of hidden file.

  1. At C drive on your system, type ScanPST.exe in search box to locate the tool.
    Or directly reach the default ScanPST.exe application location for 32-bit and 64-bit systems respectively.  

    <disk drive=””>\Program Files\Microsoft Office\root\Office16
    <disk drive=””>\Program Files(x86)\Microsoft Office\root\Office16
  2. In the opened Microsoft Inbox Repair tool interface, click on Browse option to add the PST file from system location.
  3. Now, that the file is added, click on Start option to start the PST scanning process.
  4. After completion of scanning, errors are delivered. Select the checkbox to have a backup and then click on Repair option.
  5. The repair process will take some time for completion for which users have to wait.
Software Comparision
Free Solution Software Solution
The safe method limits multiple tasks running in Outlook. The software does not require Outlook to repair PST file.
Outlook cannot connect with a corrupt PST file easily. The software can access PST files independently.
You require ScanPST tool to run multiple times. The software can repair PST file in a single attempt.
ScanPST tool can change the integrity of data file. The software protects the integrity of the data.
ScanPST deletes the deeply corrupt file. The software recovers the deleted items.

Read More…

So, we have discussed the native solutions to fix Outlook PST corruption issues. Free solutions are definitely user’s choice which is explained in detail above. However, one cannot get any sort of guarantee of repair with these native solutions. If one is looking for automated solution to repair Outlook PST file, then feel free to try professional PST Repair tool to repair multiple PST files without any hitch.

About Barrett Clay

Barrett is passionate about technology and an admirer who believes in offering instant computing solutions to everyone. He solves personal and business technical issues related to IT products, applications, IT environments, platforms, technologies, etc., through well-documented blogs and articles, informative, authentic and descriptive content. He participates in technical content development, content publishing and marketing.


  1. I was having a problem with my Outlook PST file and then I used free Microsoft inbuilt utility Inbox Repair tool which fixed the corrupt PST file and easily restore data which I could used in Outlook later. Only the issue is that it can fix only small size PST files.

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