Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An Outlook repair solution successfully fixed the .pst file corruption issue

Recently, I faced a major problem of PST corruption in my current organization. I basically work on different hardware and software, maintain them, and also carryout various troubleshooting tasks for the same. Last week, I ran across several failures while performing our usual backup and reload process. This involved backing up all data to a backup server and then copying it to a new system with freshly installed operating system. This operating system was either Windows XP or Windows 7. The data backed up contained a multitude of Outlook Data File (.pst). When the PST files were accessed on the new system, they showed up errors and some even failed to open which finally lead me to opt for a Outlook repair solution.

We never had such issues before, but this time we landed in a sort of trouble. In order to find out the actual reason for this behavior, I performed a series of tests with different MS Outlook versions (XP, 2003, 2007). But the problem could not be identified. There was a possibility that the backup server had bad or damaged sectors. PST files are more vulnerable to corruption than normal data files. A small media corruption can damage the file header and other data objects, leaving the PST practically unusable.

Installing different operating systems and Outlook versions did not lead to any result. To restore all the lost mail data, I created a new Outlook profile and then decided to import the PST file into this profile. Created the profile by following these steps:
  • Closed the MS Outlook application.
  • Opened up the Control Panel. Clicked ‘Mail’ and then ‘Show Profiles’.
  • Under ‘When starting Microsoft Office Outlook, use this profile:’ area, chose ‘Prompt for a profile to be used’.
  • Clicked ‘Add’ and provided a name to the new Outlook profile.
  • Clicked ‘Add a new email account’ and then ‘Next’.
  • After completing everything and providing the necessary information, reopened Outlook and chose the newly created profile.

After creating the profile, copied my troubled PST to a USB drive and imported the same into the new profile. This worked for only some PST files. For the others that were severely corrupt, I had no other option but to resort to commercial Outlook repair tools. They did repair most of my damaged PST files and helped me prevent a major data loss catastrophe. They effectively restored all PST objects, including emails, attachments, notes, tasks, journals, calendar items, etc.   

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