Summary: This article will help you understand how to use the Inbox Repair Tool to fix corrupt Outlook data files. It will also outline a PST repair software for fixing severely corrupt PST files, in case the Inbox Repair Tool fails.

When it comes to dealing with errors (corruption) in Outlook data files, Microsoft recommends using the Inbox Repair tool (Scanpst.exe), to diagnose and repair errors in the files.

When to use the Inbox Repair tool?

Here are three common scenarios when you might try using the Inbox Repair Tool:

  • When your Outlook application does not load or open a ‘.pst’ file, and displays an error message as shown below:


  • When Outlook can’t open the set of folders, and displays an error message similar to:


  • You receive a message that “<path to pst-file> is not an Outlook data file (.pst)”:


How to use the Inbox Repair tool?

Let’s look at the steps you need to follow when using the Inbox Repair Tool to repair Outlook data file (.pst) file:

Step 1 – Close your Outlook application

Step 2Locate the PST file for your Outlook version (i.e. 2016) by browsing to the following path:

Office 2016 (64-bit): C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office 16

Office 2016 (32-bit): C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office 16

Step 3 – Inside the Office folder, search for Scanpst.exe

Note: If you cannot locate the Scanpst.exe file, select File > Account Settings > Account Settings. Click on the Data Files tab and all the Outlook data files (i.e. OST and PST files) will be listed together with the name of the account the files are associated with. But if you still cannot locate the Scanpst.exe file, try repairing Office

Step 4 – Double-click the Scanpst.exe file

Step 5 – Click Browse to locate the Outlook Data File (.pst) you want to scan


Step 6 – Click Start and the Inbox Repair Tool will begin scanning the file


Notes: Before you start using the Inbox Repair Tool, make sure you have a backup of the PST file.

Step 7 – If errors are found during the scan, click Repair to initiate the repair process


Step 8 – When the repair is complete, you’ll be prompted with a Repair Complete dialog box. Click Ok and then start Outlook again


What if the Repair Process Fails?

If the repair process fails, try running the Inbox Repair Tool again. If the tool repeatedly fails to repair the PST file, but you are able to access the file in Outlook, you may try creating a new PST file in Outlook and copy the contents of the old PST file into the newly created file.

However, if you cannot access the Outlook data file (.pst) and it is beyond repair, the Inbox Repair Tool might not be able to repair the file. In fact, sometimes the Microsoft SCANPST utility might show an error message like:


Other than the inability to fix severely corrupt or damaged Outlook data file (.pst) file, the Inbox Repair Tool has several other limitations.

Limitations of Inbox Repair Tool

  • Cannot repair very large PST files
  • Cannot retrieve deleted Outlook emails
  • May fail to detect some corruption issues, as the scanpst utility only fixes the header part of the PST file, but cannot fix the damaged body section of the file
  • The probability of data loss is more when using the Inbox Repair Tool, as the recovered file may get modified after the repair process
  • You may need to run the Inbox Repair Tool several times (5 – 8 times) to fully repair your personal folder (.pst) file

How to overcome the limitations of Inbox Repair Tool?

Stellar Repair for Outlook can help you overcome limitations of the Scanpst.exe utility, and here’s how:

  • Recovers severely corrupt and encrypted PST files
  • Repairs oversized PST files
  • Recovers deleted Outlook emails, attachments, contacts
  • Help you avoid overwriting source file, by allowing you to restore recovered data into a new usable PST
  • Allows saving recovered mails in multiple file formats like EML, MSG, RTF, HTML, and PDF
  • Provides a simple three-step procedure to repair PST file in Outlook.


Outlook data files (.pst) files are prone to corruption. Common reasons behind PST file corruption includes abrupt termination of Outlook, installing faulty add-ins, exceeding the PST file size limit and others. You can prevent your Personal Folder (.pst) File from corruption, by:

  • Closing your Outlook application after successful completion of all the operations
  • Making frequent backups of your PST files
  • Disabling faulty add-ins
  • Avoiding PST file from getting oversized, etc.

If you still encounter errors in Outlook data file, try using the Microsoft built-in utility (the Inbox Repair Tool) to repair the affected PST files. However, the tool cannot repair Outlook data file (.pst) file that are corrupted beyond repair. In such a scenario, using Stellar Repair for Outlook tool can come in handy.


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