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Not a personal folders file

I’ve backed up my pst-file and am now trying to import it in Outlook but it gives me the error;

“The file Outlook.pst is not a personal folders file”

How can I solve this? I don’t want to lose my email.

There are a couple of common reasons for this to happen. Let me list a few of them.

The pst-file is on a CD/DVD or other read only medium or is marked as “Read Only”

Outlook needs read/write access to a pst-file in order to connect to it. Therefore you must first copy the pst-file from the CD/DVD back to your local hard drive.

I suggest you put the pst-file in a subfolder of your Documents folder and call that folder “Outlook”. Make sure you don’t overwrite any existing pst-files.

After copying right click the pst-file and choose Properties. Here verify that the “Read-only” file attribute is not selected.

Don’t import! Don’t import! Don’t import!

Am I clear? Don’t import! ;-) Once you’ve restored the pst-file via the above method don’t use import to make the pst-file available in Outlook.

The proper method to open a pst-file is to connect to it via File-> Open-> Outlook Data File…

Use scanpst.exe to scan it for errors

Still no luck? Then use use scanpst.exe to check the pst-file for errors. The location of scanpst.exe depends on your version of Outlook and Windows.

See this post to find the location for your version.

Use a 3rd party recovery tool

When scanpst.exe is unable to fix the pst-file there might have been some serious corruption in the pst-file.

There are some 3rd party recovery tools available like OutlookFIX. These tools are specialized to try to recover every single recoverable item from your pst-file.

Be warned; these tools don’t come cheap. However, depending on how much the lost emails are worth to you, you might consider it a bargain after all.

Prevent it from happening

The most common causes of ending up with a non-recoverable pst-file;

  • The pst-file is stored on a network share. Microsoft doesn’t support or recommend this.
  • The pst-file was backed up while Outlook was still running.
  • The computer was shut down while Outlook was still running.
  • The pst-file is created in Outlook 97-2002 (ANSI-format) and is around 2GB. You’ll need to crop the pst-file. After this create a new pst-file to work with.

When creating a backup ALWAYS test your backup to verify that it was successful. You especially want to do this when you’re about to delete the original file or format your PC.

For complete backup and restore instructions see the guide; Backup and Restore.



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