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Don’t repair ost-files with scanpst.exe

I encountered some issues with my ost-file and so I scanned it for errors with scanpst.exe. It found some issues but scanpst.exe was unable to fix it as the issues still existed when I rescanned it after the repair.

  • Didn’t there used to be a scanost.exe as well?
  • How can I fix my ost-file without needing to spend lots of money on a 3rd party recovery application?

Repair OST-file buttonAlthough it works for some errors, scanpst.exe is not intended to be used with ost-files.

Aside from some IMAP configurations in Outlook 2013, the ost-file only contains cached data and its better to start with a fresh cache again instead of attempting to fix it.

Let Outlook rebuild the ost-file

The recommended approach to deal with corruptions in ost-files it to rename the ost-file to .old when Outlook is closed and have Outlook rebuild the ost-file from the server again. This is the most reliable way and also part of the reason why there is no longer a scanost.exe (since Outlook 2010).

By default, your ost-file is located in the following location:

  • Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10
    C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\
  • Windows XP
    C:\Documents and Settings\%username%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\

You can paste the paths mentioned above in the Address Bar of Explorer to quickly open the location.
You can paste the path mentioned above in the Address Bar of Explorer to quickly open the (hidden) folder location.

Repair when rebuild currently isn’t an option

SCANPST.EXE buttonIf that’s not possible at the moment, because you have for instance a large mailbox and currently have a slow or expensive connection, then you can of course still give scanpst.exe a try.

For instructions using scanpst.exe see the guide: Using the Inbox Repair Tool (scanpst.exe).

Third party solutions

Convert OST to PST buttonWhen all you have is an ost-file and scanpst.exe can’t fix it and you can’t access your email account via Outlook at the moment anymore either (or use Outlook Web Mail as an alternative), then you could consider using a 3rd party repair and recover utility which can convert your ost-fle into a pst-file.

There are various tools out there which claim to be able to do this but not all of them are legit. Trustworthy tools which I’ve used before are:

All of them offer a trial mode to see if they can actually recover the data from your ost-file and can convert the data to a pst-file.