Troubleshoot data files

ShowI cannot open my data file.

ShowI need to restore one item from a backup data file.

  1. On the File menu, point to Open, and then click Outlook Data File.
  2. Click the .pst file you want, and then click OK.

The name of the folder associated with the data file appears in the Folder List (Folder List: Displays the folders available in your mailbox. To view subfolders, click the plus sign (+) next to the folder. If the Folder List is not visible, on the Go menu, click Folder List.). To view the Folder List, from the Go menu, click Folder List. By default, the folder is called Personal Folders.

  1. Open the folder containing the backup items and drag the items you want to the folder you want.
  2. To close the backup folder, right-click it, and then click Close folder name on the shortcut menu.

ShowThe size of my data file doesn't match the reported mailbox size on the server.

Data files stored on your computer hard disk, such as Offline Folder files (.ost) and Personal Folder files (.pst) are designed differently than the server mailbox. The size of the data file on your computer will be larger than the reported mailbox size.

ShowMy .pst data file is still too big even after I deleted items from it.

You need to compact the file. This might take several minutes.

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. Click Mail Setup, and then click Data Files.
  3. Click the data file that you want to compact, and then click Settings.
  4. Click Compact Now.

ShowI can't find my data file.

Locate the file.

ShowHow?

  1. On the File menu, click Data File Management.
  2. Select the file you want, and then click Open Folder.

If the file you want is not in the list, at some time you saved it to a location other than the default location. Your data file has a .pst file extension.

You can search for the file.

ShowHow?

ShowWindows XP

  1. Click Start, click Search, and then click All Files and Folders.
  2. In the All or part of the file name box, type all or part of the file name you want to find.
  3. In the Look in list, click the drive, folder, or network you want to search.
  4. Click Search.

ShowWindows 2000

  1. Click Start, point to Search, and then click For Files or Folders.
  2. In the Search for files or folders named box, type all or part of the file name you want to find, or use asterisks (for example, *.pst).
  3. In the Look in list, click the drive, folder, or network you want to search.
  4. Click Search Now.

ShowI get an error message when I try to add a Personal Folders file (.pst) as the default delivery location for items. Outlook says the format of the specified .pst file does not match the Unicode offline folder file that I'm using.

In Office Outlook 2003, the format of the offline folder file and the data file used as the delivery location need to match. To resolve this issue, you can specify a Personal Folders file (.pst) (Personal Folders file (.pst): Data file that stores your messages and other items on your computer. You can assign a .pst file to be the default delivery location for e-mail messages. You can use a .pst to organize and back up items for safekeeping.) that supports Unicode as the default delivery location for items or disable the use of offline folders.

ShowChange the default delivery location for items to a Personal Folders file (.pst) that supports Unicode

ShowIdentify an existing Personal Folders file (.pst) that supports Unicode

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. Click Mail Setup, and then click Data Files.
  3. Click the data file whose format you want to check, and then click Settings.
  4. Check the Format field to see if it contains the string Personal Folders file or Personal Folders file (97-2002). The string Personal Folders file indicates the new format that supports Unicode data and offers greater storage capacity for items and folders.

or

ShowCreate a Personal Folders file (.pst) that supports Unicode

  1. On the File menu, point to New, and then click Outlook Data File.
  2. Click OK to create a Microsoft Outlook Personal Folders File (.pst) that offers greater storage capacity for items and folders and supports multilingual Unicode (Unicode: A character encoding standard developed by the Unicode Consortium. By using more than one byte to represent each character, Unicode enables almost all of the written languages in the world to be represented by using a single character set.) data.
  3. In the File name box, type a name for the file, or leave the default, and then click OK.
  4. In the Name box, type a display name for the .pst folder, or leave the default.
  5. Select any other options you want, and then click OK.

The name of the folder associated with the data file appears in the Folder List (Folder List: Displays the folders available in your mailbox. To view subfolders, click the plus sign (+) next to the folder. If the Folder List is not visible, on the Go menu, click Folder List.). By default, the folder is called Personal Folders.

and

ShowSpecify the Personal Folders file (.pst) that supports Unicode as the default delivery location for items

  1. On the Tools menu, click E-mail Accounts.
  2. Click View or change existing e-mail accounts, and then click Next.
  3. In the Deliver new e-mail to the following location list, select the Personal Folders file (.pst) that supports Unicode where you want the new messages delivered.
  4. Click Finish.
  5. Quit and restart Microsoft Outlook.

ShowDisable the use of Offline Folders

This feature requires you to use a Microsoft Exchange account. Most home and personal accounts do not use Exchange.

  1. Manually synchronize your Offline Folder file (.ost) (Offline Folder file: The file on your hard disk that contains offline folders. The offline folder file has an .ost extension. You can create it automatically when you set up Outlook or when you first make a folder available offline.) to copy new items (item: An item is the basic element that holds information in Outlook (similar to a file in other programs). Items include e-mail messages, appointments, contacts, tasks, journal entries, notes, posted items, and documents.) from the offline folders to the server folders.

ShowHow?

Do one of the following:

  • To synchronize the selected folder, click the Tools menu, point to Send/Receive, and then click This Folder.
  • To synchronize all of your folders that are set up for offline use, click the Tools menu, point to Send/Receive, and then click Send/Receive All.
  • To synchronize a Send/Receive group of folders, click the Tools menu, point to Send/Receive, and then click the name of the Send/Receive group.
  1. On the Tools menu, click E-Mail Accounts, click View or change existing e-mail accounts, and then click Next.
  2. In the list, click Microsoft Exchange Server, and then click Change.
  3. Click More Settings.
  4. Click the Advanced tab, and then click Offline Folder File Settings.
  5. Click Disable Offline Use.
  6. When you setup working offline, if you specified Outlook to prompt you whether to work online or offline, you should change setting so you are no longer prompted.

ShowHow?

  1. On the Tools menu, click E-mail accounts, select View or change existing e-mail accounts, click Next, select Microsoft Exchange Server, and then click Change.
  2. Click More Settings, then click the General tab.
  3. Under When starting, select Automatically detect connection state.

 Notes 

  • Cached Exchange Mode uses an .ost file. If you want to turn off the feature, use the steps for turning on or off Cached Exchange Mode instead of disabling the .ost file.
  • To restore the .ost, right-click Inbox, and then click Properties on the shortcut menu. Click the Synchronization tab, and then under This folder is available, click When offline or online.
  • To permanently remove the .ost file from your computer, you must delete it.

ShowI get an error message stating that my data file is corrupted.

When you receive this error message, you can use the Inbox Repair tool (scanpst.exe) to diagnose and repair errors in the file. Scanpst.exe scans only the .pst or.ost file, making sure that the file structure is intact. It doesn't scan your mailbox on the Microsoft Exchange server.

ShowI want to know how using a non-Unicode Personal Folders file (.pst) or running Outlook in non-Unicode mode on the Exchange server will affect me.

If you do not share messages and items with people who use Microsoft Outlook on computers that run in other languages, you can run Outlook in Unicode (Unicode: A character encoding standard developed by the Unicode Consortium. By using more than one byte to represent each character, Unicode enables almost all of the written languages in the world to be represented by using a single character set.) or non-Unicode mode against Microsoft Exchange Server. A disadvantage of running in non-Unicode mode is that the offline folder file used for the profile will be created in the format that does not offer greater storage capacity for items and folders. Therefore, if size limit of the offline folder file is a concern for you, then you should run Outlook in Unicode mode on the Exchange server. To switch to Unicode mode, contact your administrator.

However, if you work in a multinational organization or share messages and items with people who use Outlook on systems that run in other languages, Outlook should run in Unicode mode on the Exchange server. This will also ensure that Unicode-capable .pst files are used for the profile that have the capability to store multilingual Unicode data. To switch to Unicode mode, contact your administrator.

When Outlook runs in non-Unicode mode on the Exchange server, the code page-based (code page: A table that relates the binary character codes used by a program to keys on the keyboard or to the appearance of characters on the display. Code pages are a means of providing support for the languages used in different countries/regions.) system is used for character mapping. In code page-based system, a character entered in one language may not map to the same character in another language and therefore, if Outlook runs in non-Unicode mode on the Exchange server, you are likely to see incorrect characters, including question marks. Additional information on scripts and code pages is available in Outlook Help.

For example, consider two people — one is running the English version of the Microsoft Windows XP operating system with the Latin code page and the second person is running the Japanese version of the Microsoft Windows XP operating system with the Japanese code page. The second person creates a meeting request in the Japanese version of Outlook 2002 and sends it to first person. When the person using the English version of Outlook 2002 opens the meeting request, the code points of the Japanese code page are mapped to unexpected or nonexistent characters in the Latin script, and the resulting text is unintelligible. Therefore, in multilingual environments, it is recommended that Outlook runs in Unicode mode on the Exchange server.

 Note   The body of Outlook items (item: An item is the basic element that holds information in Outlook (similar to a file in other programs). Items include e-mail messages, appointments, contacts, tasks, journal entries, notes, posted items, and documents.) has been Unicode since Outlook 2000, and the body can be read irrespective of the language in which the item was created. However, Outlook data — such as To and Subject lines of messages, ContactName and BusinessTelephoneNumber properties of contact items— will be limited to characters defined by your code page if Outlook runs in non-Unicode against an Exchange server.

 
 
Applies to:
Outlook 2003