Microsoft Outlook is a popular email client that has many smart features, but it has one major drawback as well. It's not just an email client; it's more than that. Other than email, it offers you great features like a calendar, task manager, contact manager, note taking, journal, and web browsing. It creates an Outlook data file, called a PST (personal storage table), on the local system. This Outlook data file stores all the mailbox content, which includes email messages along with the attachments, contacts, calendars, and much more. The only drawback lies in the fact that an Outlook data file is prone to corruption and other severe issues. PST file size limit is considered the primary reason behind Outlook corruption.
Issue Regarding PST File Size Limit
To save a PST file, Microsoft Outlook uses two formats: ANSI and Unicode. Both of these file formats have a different size limit. An ANSI PST file, created by Outlook 2002 and earlier versions, can reach up to 2 GB. This means you can't store more than 2 GB of the mailbox content into an ANSI PST file. On the other hand, Unicode PSTs are created by Outlook 2003 and later versions. The maximum size limit of a Unicode PST file is either 20 GB or 50 GB. If you're using Microsoft Outlook 2003 or 2007, the PST file can reach up to 20 GB. In Microsoft Outlook 2010, 2013, or 2016, the maximum PST file size limit is 50 GB. Sometimes, this specific size limitation can cause serious issues for Outlook users. How?
If a PST file, be it ANSI or Unicode, reaches its maximum size limit, then you're likely to face some serious issues related to Outlook performance. While opening or accessing an oversized PST file, an Outlook client often crashes and/or freezes. This is very irritating. But the worst outcome is the Outlook corruption that may happen when a PST file crosses its maximum size limit. Although a Unicode PST file is less likely to be corrupted, it's not immune to corruption. Apart from this, there are various reasons for corruption in Outlook data files. The most common reasons are software malfunction, virus infection, sudden system shutdown, abrupt cancellation of Outlook, storage media failure, etc.
How to Prevent Corruption
Some people say that corruption is an inevitable occurrence. According to them, there's nothing that can be done to prevent corruption, but I don't think so. Corruption can be prevented. Now, you must be wondering how to prevent Outlook corruption. Below are the few corrective measures you should take in order to prevent Outlook corruption:
#1 - Don't let the PST file become oversized.
Since a PST file is prone to corruption due to its size limitation issue, you should never let it become oversized. If you're using an older version of Outlook like 2002 or older, make sure the size of your PST file remains below 1.5 GB. If you're using Outlook 2007 or 2010, make sure the size of your PST file remains below 10 GB. In Outlook 2013 or 2016, make sure you get enough storage space. In order to manage Outlook mailbox sizes, you can compact a PST file and/or remove duplicate items from the Outlook data file.
#2 - Don't save PST files on a server or network drive.
An Outlook data file should only be saved on a local computer system. Since the network environment doesn't support the dense access of PST files, you should never save it on a server or remote drive. Doing this may lead to frequent corruption in PST files. Also, accessing a PST file by multiple users at the same time through a network can cause severe damage to the file. You must avoid this.
#3 - Avoid processing a large number of emails simultaneously.
You can process 10,000 emails at a time, but more than that is beyond the limit. While processing a large number of emails simultaneously, the Microsoft Outlook client is likely to be on lockdown. In such a situation, you may need to close Outlook abnormally, which may result in PST file corruption.
#4 - Close Outlook properly.
Make sure you never close down your Outlook application abnormally; otherwise, you may encounter serious troubles. If you don't close your Outlook application properly while PST files are being used, corruption in the files may occur.
#5 - Turn off the computer properly.
How you turn off your computer system is very important. Turning off the computer improperly may lead to severe problems. Sudden power outage is the primary reason behind abrupt system shutdowns. For example, while working on Microsoft Outlook, if the computer system shuts down due to power failure, this may result in corruption. Make sure you're using a UPS device in order to get backup power in case of sudden power failure.
#6 - Use antivirus programs correctly.
Sometimes, an antivirus program may affect the processing of the email messages within the PST file. If the antivirus program is slow, it may slow down the process of scanning the email messages. Also, a faulty or outdated antivirus program may even cause corruption. Avoid using Microsoft OneCare, as it may delete the PST files. You should use your antivirus program correctly and make sure you update it regularly.
#7 - Avoid using unnecessary Outlook add-ins.
Make sure you're not using any unnecessary Microsoft Outlook add-ins. Sometimes, an issue with the Outlook add-ins may also cause corruption in the PST files. You should disable the Outlook add-ins to check if they're causing any trouble.
#8 - Make backups regularly.
The best way to prevent PST file corruption is by making regular backups of your PST files. Due to corruption, you may lose your data permanently. But if you have a backup, you can restore almost 100% of your data. So you should regularly back up your PST files.
How to Repair PST Files
The above measures are only helpful if you want to prevent PST file corruption. But if the PST file is already corrupted, you should repair it by using the Inbox Repair tool. It's commonly known as the scanpst.exe utility, a built-in repair tool provided by Microsoft. Whenever corruption or any other issue occurs in the PST file, you should run the scanpst.exe utility. It can scan corrupted PST files for errors and resolve them. But before you can run the scanpst.exe utility, you must locate its executable file. Refer to this article for complete information: SCANPST Location and How to Use it to Repair PST File.
In a case of severe corruption, the Inbox Repair tool may fail or not work. In such a situation, you should look for a professional solution. There are many vendors in the market which provide PST Repair tools with a free demo version. SysInfoTools PST Repair tool is one of them. Before purchasing the software, you must download its demo version for free evaluation. By using the demo version, you can check the preview of your data, which you can actually recover from the corrupted PST file. If you're satisfied with the results, then only then should you purchase the software.