Corrupted or otherwise damaged Outlook data files (in the .pst format) can put a business in a serious bind by cutting it off from copies of vital emails, calendar records and other information. You could rebuild some of your missing data by chasing colleagues and customers, but then you’d be wasting time, possibly embarrassing yourself and likely only be rewarded with a partial fix.
The best approach, of course, is to never actually run into this problem in the first place by backing up your email to the cloud. Most of the recommendations in our best online backup guide can help here. If, on the other hand, you find yourself caught with your pants down, all hope is not lost.
Coming up, we’ll show you how to repair corrupted .pst files using specialized software designed for that purpose. The tool we landed on was created by the developers behind our nod for best data recovery software, Stellar Data Recovery. The company sells a full suite of IT tools to help your business overcome a broad range of data quandaries, including an .ost to .pst converter.
Stick with us as we walk you through the basic of using Stellar Outlook PST Repair, which can also be used for recovering accidentally deleted emails. Don’t forget to give our Stellar Data Recovery review a read, too, which can easily recover any file types from a corrupt partition or crashed hard drive.
When Do You Need PST Repair Software?
Just to make sure we’re all on the same page here, a personal storage table (.pst) file is a proprietary Microsoft file type used to store copies of messages, calendar events, address books, journals and other data objects used by Microsoft Outlook, in addition to your Outlook settings.
It serves as a backup of Outlook accounts for those using POP3 or IMAP web-based email. In most cases, working with .pst files provides a fair amount of flexibility: you can even transfer them from one computer to another to retain your information without a hiccup.
However, like any file, .pst files can be damaged. This can be happen when .pst files get too big or can be caused by failing drives, malware and various other incidents. If you haven’t saved a backup copy of your .pst file using an online backup service like CloudBerry Backup (read our CloudBerry Backup review), then you’ll need special software to help out.
There are handful of .pst repair tools out there, but we landed on Stellar Outlook PST Repair due to its reliability and ease of use. Some of the features we like besides email recovery include:
- Recovery of attachments, contacts and calendars
- Save messages in .eml, .msg, .rtf, .html and .pdf formats
- Save scans for later use
- Recover deleted emails
- Recovery from encrypted .pst files
The software also supports every iteration of Outlook all the way back to Outlook 2000.
We’ll touch on its features more when we show you how to use Stellar to repair your damaged .pst files. First, though, let’s take a quick look at cost.
Stellar Outlook PST Repair License Options
The tool itself isn’t cheap, so if you’re looking for a one-off solution, this probably isn’t it. However, if you’re running a business or IT shop, the cost is much more digestible given that you get a lifetime license.
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The SOHO license lets you install the software on a single computer, while the Technician license lets you install it on as many as you require. In addition to the features we mentioned earlier, the Technician licenses adds the ability to:
- Export directly to Outlook 365
- Save files in DBOX and MBOX formats
- Split huge .pst files into smaller ones
- Compact .pst files
- Extract attachments
The Outlook Toolkit license adds a few other capabilities, making it by far the best deal. Those include the ability to convert .pst to .ost files, identify and delete duplicate emails, merge .psts into a single file and recover .pst passwords.
If you’d like to try the service out first, you can download a free version that will let you scan and preview recoverable .pst files.
All three plans come with free technical support, should you get into trouble. However, as we’re about to see, the tool is easy enough to use that it can make a novice look like an IT guru.
How to Repair Outlook PST Files with Stellar
Once you’ve decided on a license, Stellar will email you a download link and the license key. Using those, installation is pretty straightforward and should only take a minute or two at most.
The recovery process is pretty simple without taking shortcuts on features, which seems to be the case with most of the Stellar tools we’ve worked with. However, walking you through the steps will hopefully give you a better idea of what to expect before deciding to buy.
Step One: Run a Scan the Corrupt PST File
Launching the software once installed, you’ll be greeted with a window to select .pst file in need of repair.
You can browse for the file if you know where it is, or save yourself some time by letting the software search your hard drive for it. The “find” option works fast, in our case only taking about 30 seconds.
Once done, highlight the file you want to patch up and click the “repair” button. A scan of the file will run, which takes just a split second.
Step Two: Working with the Scan Results
After the scan is done, Stellar Outlook PST Repair will display the results, letting you sort through your file contents before saving them as a repaired file.
Navigation should feel familiar: it’s a bit like using Outlook. The left-side pane is for top-level navigation. You can access your inbox, deleted items, junk mail, calendar, contacts and more from there.
By clicking on any category, the second column will populate with objects organized under that category. For example, click on “inbox” and you’ll see all of the emails in your inbox from before the corruption. The pane on the right, of course, shows the actual content of the email you select.
Once you’re ready to recover the .pst file, just click the “save repaired file” button near the top of the client. You’ll be given the option of saving it as a .pst, .msg, .eml, .rtf, .html or .pdf file type.
If you don’t want to save everything, you can also right-click on any individual email and choose to save it to its own file, although in that case you can’t save it as a .pst.
There’s also a button to save your scan instead of converting it right away to a .dat file, letting you load and work with the results later on.
That’s really all there is to using Stellar Outlook PST Repair to fix damaged personal storage table files. While it won’t win any beauty contests, an austere approach is precisely what you want in a good IT tool. If you’ve used Outlook, you can use this tool, no problem.
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As a final reminder, the best way to avoid issues with damaged files is to backup your hard drive. We have a full library of online backup reviews to help you sort through the options, though if you’re looking for a shortcut, check out our picks for the best online backup for small business. Thanks for reading, and be sure and leave your comments and questions for us below.