How to manage oversized PST files?

Troubles in Outlook PST files are expected to appear while working with MS Outlook. This limitation has been seen rising in Outlook version 2002 and older because those versions follow ANSI format. The ANSI format allows saving of PST or OST files not more than 2 GB. When user crosses the benchmark, the PST files become inaccessible and user looks for retrieval solution like inbox repair tool or external utility.

Understanding Mailbox limits

So, if you as a user don’t have any idea of the version of Outlook being used, then it is the first step to determine. MS Outlook 2002 and prior versions have ANSI format and the maximum limit of mailbox items one can save is upto 2 GB. On contrary, the higher versions of Outlook mailbox have extended saving capacity i.e. 1 TB. Out of it only 50 GB is recommended to save as maximum.

The version of any Outlook file can be checked through file properties. Once done, the file saving capacity can be regulated without affecting the maximum limit.

Identifying Oversized PST Error

Microsoft Outlook user faces multiple issues in the distinct situations. For the new user it becomes almost impossible to identify the error and consequent situation. The following errors will appear when PST file storage will cross the set limit:

  • Reported error 0x00040820 – This error manifests while synchronizing emails via a specific email account in Outlook 2010. When the number of PST files crosses the upper limit of the saving capacity, the error occurs.
  • Background Synchronization errors – It happens when there is a kind of mismatch between syncing mailboxes from one Outlook version to another. So, prior making such synchronization, it is advised to check the Outlook version.
  • "The file abcd.pst has reached its maximum size. To reduce the amount of data in this file, select some items that you no longer need, then permanently delete them": This error manifests when user crosses maximum file capacity provided by Outlook version.
  • File Access Error – The error “abcd.pst cannot be accessed – 0x80040116” occurs when the Outlook data file becomes corrupted or damaged due to file over sizing issues. So, it is better to take care of file size.

Fixing PST files affected due to Oversizing

To fix PST files that were affected due to oversizing issues, user has two options. The first option is to fix the issue with inbuilt repair utility, while the second option comes to play when the inbuilt utility fails to work. It employs assistance from external utility or third-party tool.

Assistance from Inbuilt Utility: The following steps must be followed to fix the PST files using inbuilt repair utility:

  • MS Outlook saves inbox repair tool in different locations of the Windows drive.
    Save inbox repair tool
    For Outlook 2002 and prior versions, the location is: C:\Program Files\Common Files\System\MAPI\\NT\scanpst.exe, while for Outlook 2010 and higher versions, the location is C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14
  • Click inbox repair tool icon of Scanpst.exe application.
    Click the icon of Scanpst.exe application
  • From ‘Browse’ option, select the oversized PST files from specific locations.
  • Press ‘Start’ button to check the selected files for errors.
  • An option will appear, “Make backup of scanned file before repairing.”
    Make backup before repairing
  • Select specific drive to save the backup.
  • Press ‘Repair’ button to continue the process.

Once the process gets complete, user can access the repaired PST files from the defined location in the drive.

External Agency Assistance:

If the inbox repair utility does not work, then it is highly recommended to take assistance from third-party tool. The external agency guarantees the repair of the corrupted PST files.


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