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Fixing a Corrupted Outlook Personal Folders File Problem
Last updated: 1/12/02

Situation: Outlook 2000 running on an Windows Me PC accessing Personal Folders in a file on a Windows NT 4.0 server with an old hard disk that was having problems.  The personal folders were in a large file (186 MBytes) that could not be copied.  I received a cyclic redundancy disk error when trying to.  The only good backup was seven months old.  Outlook could still open the file and display the inbox, etc.  It had previously alerted me to the problem with an error stating that the Inbox Repair Tool should run.

Reference: Microsoft Knowledgebase Article Q197315 provides details on using the Inbox Repair Tool, which is really a Personal Folders repair tool.

Things I Tried and a Trick That Worked...

I searched the C: drive with the Windows Explorer for scanpst.exe, which is the Inbox Repair Tool, double-clicked it to execute the program and pointed it to mailbox.pst (the default name for the file is Personal Folders.pst), unchecked the save file option, and it quit after running for a period of time far short of the time I thought would take to process a file that large.  The date of the file and size did not change.

I tried compacting the file (Tools, Services, Personal Folders, Properties... ) hoping that would make the file smaller, get rid of the bad spot in the file and allow me to copy it.  It ran very briefly, did not change the date of the file, and the file still could not be copied.

I ran the archive function on the file (File, Archive), it worked, but found a couple of files (nothing important) and copied messages that were over three months old to another file, archive.pst.

I ran the compact function again, it ran longer, and changed the date of the file.  The file was a little smaller, but still could not be copied.

Back to archive...  I set the date so it would archive everything and that worked loosing several insignificant messages.  So, now I had managed to save most everything to the C: drive in archive.pst.

Quit Outlook...  Start, Settings, Control Panel, Mail. Removed Personal Folders, Added Personal Folders, and told it to make them on the C: drive.  This is handy if you want to move the personal folders and have Outlook find them in the new location instead of finding none in the old location, and trying to install defaults, etc. and downloading new mail to them before you have the opportunity to direct it to the desired location of the Personal Folders.

Fired-up Outlook and found I had new set of default Personal Folders with nothing in them.  File, Open, Personal Folder File (.pst) for both the archive.pst and the old mailbox.pst, copied what I wanted from both to the new Personal Folders, and closed both of them.  Problem fixed and old mail and folders were cleaned-up in the process.

If Outlook downloaded some mail to a .pst file that wasn't where you wanted it downloaded, simply search C: with the Windows Explorer to find the file, run Outlook, File, Open Personal Folder File (.pst), direct it to the location of the file, and copy the messages to the folders you desire.


Copyright, Disclaimer, and Trademark Information Copyright © 1996-2006 Larry F. Byard.  All rights reserved. This material or parts thereof may not be copied, published, put on the Internet, rewritten, or redistributed without explicit, written permission from the author.