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We already know that nowadays Outlook is most popular email client and used by a large number of users across the globe. Microsoft Outlook uses Offline folder (OST file) to allow its users to work offline without any issues. The Outlook IMAP accounts such as Outlook.com and Outlook 365 account stores their mailbox data in OST file format. But, What if the file gets damaged due to any reason and all stored data becomes incomprehensible?
Therefore, in this article we will discuss the common causes of OST file corruption and the best possible ways to recover an OST file as well as a trick to solve this corruption issue. So let’s we start the discussion.
Brief About OST File
OST files are a user mailbox content replica stored on the Exchange server. It is automatically created on the first use of Microsoft Outlook as soon as you connect to the server. Once created, the data is synchronized with the e-mail server so that it can be used offline as well as in the event of a shutdown of the e-mail server. The user can create email and other data elements in the OST file and, even when you are not connected to the server. But, once you get the connection, the local file is synchronized with the server again and these data items are automatically saved directly to the server.
Upon return of the connection, the OST file is automatically synchronized with the Exchange Server mailbox. It looks comfortable, but in reality, it is not. Like other programs and files, corruption occurs with OST files. Let’s examine the reasons.
What’s the Reason behind OST file corruption?
During the synchronized process, if you’re OST data is disrupted due to bad internet connectivity, then the OST file may be damaged. Once the OST files are disabled, the Outlook functionality will also be affected. In addition to these reasons, there are many other causes of OST file corruption, which is clearly divided into two categories such as hardware and software.
Hardware Related Issues
The corruption issues related to hardware are mainly caused due to inappropriate configuration, malfunctioning, failure in the external components of the computer system such as network connectors, hard drive, modem, internal or external power unit, etc
- Delay due to network connectors
- Affected storage device
- Bad sectors on hard drive
- Sudden power loss/Surges
If you have problems with logical inconsistencies, all of them are subject to software issues. These errors occur due to error transmission, viral infection, application failure, and downloading of programs from some unreliable source. Some errors are as follows:
- Outlook program failure
- Abnormal Extinction of Outlook
- Add inappropriate Outlook
- Specific storage limitation
Six Most Common Solutions to Fix OST file Problems
Method #1: Start Outlook in Safe Mode
The main reason behind starting the Outlook in Safe Mode is to disable the add-ins, which can cause errors in the boot process. This allows it to work safely without corrupting any add-ons or files. To open MS Outlook in safe mode uses this command – “outlook.exe / safe”.
Method #2: Update the Folder
This method allows you to change the properties of folders, and fix inaccessible OST file problems. This procedure applies to Outlook 2010.
- First, right-click the folder and click Properties.
- A dialog box will appear. Click the “Clear Offline Items” option and hit the OK button.
- Next, on the Outlook 2010 ribbon, click the Send / Receive option.
- Finally click the Update Folder to save the changes.
Method #3: Disable Firewall settings
You can render antivirus programs and other firewall settings inoperative as some programs are designed to scan and detect problems for all incoming and outgoing e-mails. If you turn on the antivirus option, it may disrupt the operation of MS Outlook in a timely manner. So you can try disabling the settings and rebooting Outlook to see the changes.
Method #4: By Compacting the OST file
Having an over-sized OST file may create troubles and errors such as – tediousness in Outlook performance, OST file corruption, etc. the data still exist in the deleted folder, even when you delete the data or any items. To delete items in your “Deleted Items folder”, you must individually remove all items that consume your lots of time. Therefore you can use compact OST file option as it reduces the additional space which is acquired by these file.
Method #5: Use scanost.exe Tool
Microsoft gives users two integrated tools, such as ScanPST.exe or Inbox Repair Tool and ScanOST.exe or OST Integrity Checker, to repair small issues that occurred in Exchange OST files. The Scanost.exe tool scans all the elements of the mailbox that is included in the OST files and is presented on the Exchange server. This tool assures users to fix minor corruption issues related to the OST file.
However, the OST integrity check is only available in Outlook 2007 and its previous versions, and it is discontinued in Outlook 2010 and later. You can use the Inbox Repair Tool to fix errors found in both OST & PST files created in that particular Outlook version.
Drawbacks of Scanost.exe tool
There are some limitations associated with the ScanOST.exe or OST integrity checker. Take a look at the points below:
- It is not possible to recover lost email or other items from the OST file.
- Only minor corruption can be detected in the OST file.
- Security is not provided when recovering data.
- Do not repair Outlook 2010 and later versions.
Method #6: Make Use of Professional Software
If in case these manual methods don’t works, you can take the help of some professional tool. You can opt Regain OST Recovery tool to fix the OST file corruption issues. This utility is useful because it corrects all types of corruption and restores data files.
It can also transfer data from corrupt OST files to other file formats. The utility has the fastest scanning speed and is supported in all versions of Outlook. You can download the demo version of this tool for free.
I have described above the main causes and solutions of OST file corruption. When corruption in Outlook OST files is unexpected, you can try the above solutions. However, it is best to use an OST Repair tool as this will help you in restoring your data without any trouble. I hope this article helps you with your doubts.