Home WindowsMS-OfficeOutlook What is Crashed Outlook Data File? Why do PST File corrupt?

What is Crashed Outlook Data File? Why do PST File corrupt?

by John Bhatt

If you work for a business and work on Windows, Microsoft Outlook needs no introduction to you and Outlook Data File is one of the most important database for you. Today we are going to learn about a product that helps us to recover email data.

Previously, we have shared how to backup Outlook?


Microsoft Outlook saves emails in local hard disk and syncs with web server based on configuration settings (either POP3 or IMAP). Almost any mail ID using POP3 or IMAP & SMTP protocol can be configured in Outlook. Once you have successfully configured your email ID to use Outlook, without logging in to web server repeatedly, you can read and send emails. Also, you can organize mails like forwarding to some other user or move to particular folder based on rules which can be created using Outlook.

What is Outlook Data File? (What is PST?)

The email with its header, attachment and body is saved in local system allowing you to read mail even without internet. Once you connect to Internet, it just sync all your mails and keep reading on the go.

In basic understanding, those emails are saved in a database. Typically the database is called Outlook Data File and have .pst (Personal Storage Table) file extension.

Rise of the Problem

Most of time, you have to go and you need to shut-down your computer. But the Outlook was running in background. The Outlook Data file can crash resulting corrupted mail box causing lots of problem. Lets have a look at the reasons why Outlook data file corrupts.

  1. Sudden power cut. If electricity goes off suddenly and your desktop running without UPS or notebook having no battery backup, device will power off. This kind of power off is unplanned and system can not close background activities which are using databases and other files. This results in loss of data on active file as well as bad sectors in hard-disk.
  2. Virus problem. While Outlook is the best method to access and organize large amount of emails and even multiple accounts with multiple data files, but this is the most prone application. As the attachment is downloaded automatically to local system and if system is not up-to-date with good antivirus software installed, there are much much chances of getting attacked by malicious attachments sent by hackers. In most cases those hackers attack its data file.
  3. OS Upgrades. While upgrade should not be the reason, but sometimes it is the only reason. Suppose you are running on Windows 7 with Microsoft Office 2007 and planned an upgrade to Windows 10 with Office 2016, your data file needs some conversions. During that procedure, if anything wrong happened or configuration mistake happen, there are high chances of data corruption.
  4. Re-installing Office. When you re-install office, the file need to be checked and if outlook is closed between the process or process is interrupted in-between, there are very high chances of data file corruption. This process might be in same PC or different PC.

There might be also many more reasons based on conditions like migrating to newer PC and restoring earlier file and/or any of the above conditions.

The Solution

As this is the generic problem and can be commonly seen in many cases, Microsoft has already built a tool and included that in Windows itself. The name of that tool is scanpst.exe and can be found in Office Installation directory of Program Files.

We will share the detailed method of repairing your corrupt data file in subsequent posts. Stay tuned.

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