Importance of PST file in Outlook and need of PST Recovery

By | August 24, 2011

Basically, an experienced Outlook user have the knowledge about Outlook PST file and understands how much importance a PST file has for the smooth working of Outlook. However proper care and attention is required for PST file as any problem in this file can cause major complexities in Outlook. To know how to keep PST file intact and if corruption occurs what to do for PST recovery, let’s first understand more facts about .pst file.


Outlook PST File (.pst):

An Outlook PST file is a Personal Storage Table (.pst) file that keeps the copies of Outlook objects which include emails, contacts, tasks, notes, calendar, events, journals, folders etc. A .pst file is stored locally on the computer of the user and he/she can create any number of .pst file for one profile. These .pst files are used with POP3 and IMAP accounts. The location of .pst file could be different based on the version of Outlook and operating system being used.


By default the location of .pst file is :

C:\Documents and Settings\user_id\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook


Outlook PST File Size :

Outlook .pst file has the two different format; ANSI and Unicode format. ANSI format based PST file is used for Outlook 2002 and the versions prior to it. While Unicode format is used in Outlook 2010, 2007 and 2003 versions. In ANSI format the size of .pst file is limited to 2 GB only. However in Outlook 2003 and 2007 the size limit for .pst file has been increased upto 20 GB and in Outlook 2010 it is now upto 50 GB.

To save .pst file from corruption some basic operation in Outlook can be performed like taking backup of .pst file on regular basis, archiving .pst file, compacting .pst or split .pst file. But in various circumstances these prevention methods does not help and .pst file get damaged.


PST File Corruption Reasons:

A PST file could get corrupted due to following reasons:

  • Abnormal exit from Outlook
  • Inappropriate hardware or network devices
  • Virus problem
  • PST file shared over network
  • 2 GB pst file size issue

Based on the above reason you might get different error messages like “Outlook.pst can not be accessed”, “outlook.pst is not compatible”, “The file outlook.pst is not a personal folders file” etc. When it comes to resolve the issue of .pst file corruption then first scan and repair the .pst file with Scanpst.exe, which is an inbuilt utility in Outlook. The default location of scanpst.exe can be located here – C:\Program Files\Common Files\System\MSMAPI\1033.

Scanpst.exe utility may repair .pst file but due to its own limitations, in most of the cases it fails to repair the .pst file. Apart from this some other third party PST Recovery tool helps in repairing .pst file and recovers the Outlook objects. By assessing the features and capability to recover the Outlook objects of the tool user can get his Outlook in previous normal state.

About the author: I am Jane Parker and having 6 years experience in IT consultancy. I have passion for writing about technical and software related topics.