Repairing Outlook PST Files
This is a sad story with a happy ending. Mostly anyway.
My laptop has a problem with its graphic drivers (Lenovo T400) and does a hard crash a couple of times a day. Yesterday it corrupted Outlook. While I had numerous other things backed up, I did not have the Outlook pst backed up, at least not recently enough to matter. Imagine losing your email history, calendar and contacts. The calendar was entirely disastrous.
UPDATE: I neglected to mention until someone mentioned it in comments that at this point I ran scanpst.exe from the Outlook directory (find a KB on it here). This tool failed with a message to the effect the file was corrupted and it could not complete. If you have a similar problem, you should definitely try this tool.
I have good friends so I spent the afternoon crying Julie’s shoulder via IM and brainstorming ideas. She found two commercial products: Stellar’s at http://www.repair-outlook-pst.com/ and Advanced Outlook Repair at http://www.datanumen.com/aor/index.htm. Both have demos, and both returned headers and calendar. The demos don’t get your actual messages. Stellar took hours so I decided to buy the most expensive Advanced Outlook Repair. The day was so bad that I got a call at 5:30 asking me why I wasn’t at the Northern Colorado Architects meeting only to say “wait, I was getting ready for the dojo” which I do on Thursday. That’s in spite of the fact I had had three Wednesday appointments and clearly knew it was Wednesday earlier in the day. I’d had it, bagged it, went to the meeting and dinner afterwards, returning to practice my violin (remember, I’m really, really terrible on the violin) trying to get ready for my first ever “Beginner’s Jam” on Friday night.
This morning Bill McCarthy said hello because of an entirely separate conversation we’ve been having over the last few days. I told him I was positively grumpy from having to spend $250 on a PST recovery tool. For any of you that don’t know Bill, he’s brilliant and amazing (but please don’t tell him I said that). I said “so if you don’t have a better idea, I’m about to go spend $250 on this tool, then $650 on an interim laptop so I can get my Lenovo fixed.”
“Aren’t you on Vista” was his reply.
“Right click on the .pst file and select Restore Previous Versions,” he said.
I don’t recall doing anything to this so anticipate running on defaults. I am not feeling optimistic and it takes considerable time to finish…
But I find a pst file from Tuesday. Apparently it’s been backing up my pst file every day at 8:45AM. I can lose one day of email – although it does mean I may have missed your email if you sent it to me late Tuesday or Wednesday.
Bill’s already a hero because he tucked this conversation in amongst fighting Australia’s bushfires. And he’s helped me dozens of times over the years. I feel very thick that my computer has been quietly covering my butt on this and I didn’t realize it, at least not sufficiently for it to rise to my consciousness when I needed it (I do recall now seeing it demo’d).
There are different problems you may have if you run a busy pst file for a long period of time. Julie’s blogged about that here and I had a similar experience a few months ago where the pst stopped allowing me to empty the deleted folder and other ugly things. My solution to that problem, like Julie’s, was to create a new pst file and eventually allow everything to be archived together or via partitioned archives.
Bill didn’t solve the problem that I simply can’t turn loose of my Lenovo to get it fixed (and yes it’s patched with drivers). That one I still have to figure out. At least adequate computers are relatively cheap at the local Office Depot.