One of the biggest problems users encounter when using PSTs is that they can corrupt. Because there are countless messages within a PST that could easily be lost when the file becomes corrupt, knowing how to repair PST files is highly important. Of course, it would be even better if you knew how to avoid the need to repair PST files in the first place.
Let’s start with the initial point: what to do if you need to repair PST files. Here are three points:
Inbox Repair Tool
If you have a corrupt PST file, you will see this error message when you try to open it:
Errors have been detected in the file <file_path>. Quit all mail-enabled applications, and then use the Inbox Repair Tool.
Every current version of Outlook comes with a version of the Inbox Repair Tool called scanpst. Scanpst.exe can be found in either drive:\Program Files\Common Files\System\Mapi\LocaleID\scanpst.exe or drive:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14 (Outlook 2010.) The scanpst.exe tool can scan a PST file for damage, and can recover it in many cases.
OST Crop Tool
When a PST has grown past its maximum supported size, the Inbox Repair Tool may not be able to repair it. If you run the scanpst. exe and it cannot repair the file, you may want to use the OST Crop Tool. This will not recover all of your email, but it will truncate the corrupt file down to a size that may be accessible. You can download that tool from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=B33B1DFF-6F50-411D-BBDF-82019DDA602E&displaylang=en
Third party PST repair tools
The market is full of PST repair tools from several third party sources. Some offer free versions, while others cost money up front. There are too many to list in this short article but a search on Google for ‘repair PST’ will serve you well. Read them carefully, and I strongly suggest making a copy of the PST to be repaired just in case, but that advice is good even if you are using the Microsoft tools above.
But what if you didn’t have to worry about repairing PST files in the first place?
Why do your users have PST files anyway? Is it because they have a small inbox limit, or is it because the system automatically deletes email over a certain age? Whatever the reason, knowing the problems that might arise, requiring PST repair and placing data at risk, is only half of the equation. You do need to provide an alternative and that is where email archiving software comes into play. A good email archiving software eliminates the need for PST files by creating an archive that can be accessed even when Exchange is offline, and that can provide virtually unlimited mailboxes. There are also tools like the PST Exporter that can transfer messages from PST files into the archive, ensuring ongoing access to email and eliminating the risk and performance impact from PSTs on the network.
Good email management includes maintaining access to email. Email archiving software is a great way to accomplish this, and can eliminate the risks and the headaches associated with PST repair.