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Repairing Outlook PST Files

A PST file (filename extension - *.pst) is a ‘personal storage table’ file used by Microsoft Outlook to store your personal data such as emails, contacts and schedules. There are separate personal folders in Outlook for your mail history, contacts, etc. Users of Microsoft Outlook who have Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 as their operating system might receive an error stating “0x80040600: An unknown error has occurred.” when they click Send/Receive or when they try to view emails in the Microsoft Outlook inbox. This problem is similar to the situation that causes the error “An unknown error has occurred. 0x80040600”. An error with the same cause as these two will show up when the user is trying to delete an email from the inbox, saying “Messaging interface caused an unknown error.” All these errors are caused by a corrupt PST file. In order to fix this error, you need to repair your Outlook PST file.

BEFORE YOU START!!!!!!!!!!!! ALWAYS make a backup of your pst file before you start any repair or recovery. I know it may already be damaged but you do not want to make matters worse. Check out the Backup Outlook guide. We need to stress also that the FREE method below will only work around 50% of the time. If it does not work for you then your only chance for recovery is to use software specifically designed to recover corrupt PST files. We have a download link at the bottom of this article for this software. Try the free method first.

To begin repairing Outlook PST files, the first thing you need to do is to set the option to show hidden files. This can be done in Windows XP by following the steps outlined below:

  1. Start Windows Explorer.
  2. On the Tools menu, click Folder Options.
  3. Click the View tab.
  4. Under Hidden files and folders, click Show hidden files and folders, and then click the OK button.

To show hidden files and folders in Windows Vista and 7, do the following:

  1. Go to the Control Panel.
  2. Click Appearance and Personalization.
  3. Click Folder Options.
  4. Click the View tab.
  5. Under Advanced Settings, click Show hidden files and folders, and then click OK.

The next step is to make use of the Inbox Repair tool provided by Microsoft Outlook to repair your inbox and restore your corrupt PST file. But first you need to find your Outlook PST file. For this, complete the following steps:
In Windows XP:

  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. Type control in the Open box, and then press ENTER.
  3. If you see the Pick a category view, click User Accounts
  4. Double-click Mail.
  5. Click Data Files.
  6. Click Personal Folders, and then click Settings.
  7. Note the text in the Filename box.
  8. Click OK, and then click Close two times.

In Windows Vista and Windows 7:

  1. Go to the Control Panel.
  2. If you see Control Panel Home view, click User Accounts and Family Safety
  3. Click Mail.
  4. Click Data Files.
  5. Click Personal Folders, and then click Settings.
  6. Note the text in the Filename box. 
  7. Click OK, and then click Close two times.

The text in the filename box will be the path to your PST file. This will be needed later, when using the Inbox Repair Tool.
Next we will be discussing how to use the Inbox Repair Tool. Follow the following guideline in order to accomplish this:
In Windows Vista/7 using Microsoft Outlook 2003:

  • Click Start, type %ProgramFiles%\Common Files\System\MSMAPI\1033\ in the Start Search box, and then press ENTER.
  • Find and then double-click SCANPST.EXE to start the Inbox Repair Tool.
  • In the Enter the name of the file you want to scan box, type the path and file name of the Outlook .pst file that you found in step 2.
  • Click Start.
  • After the Inbox Repair Tool operation is complete, click OK.

In Windows Vista/7 using Microsoft Outlook 2007:

  • Click Start, type %ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Office\Office12\ in the Start Search box, and then press ENTER.
  • Find and then double-click SCANPST.EXE to start the Inbox Repair Tool.
  • In the Enter the name of the file you want to scan box, type the path and file name of the Outlook .pst file that you found in step 2.
  • Click Start.
  • After the Inbox Repair Tool operation is complete, click OK.

In Windows XP:

  • Click Start, and then click Search.
  • Click All Files and Folders.
  • In the All or part of the file name box, type Scanpst.exe.
  • Change the selection in the Look in box to the local hard disk. For example, change the selection to Local Disk (C:).
  • Click Search.
  • When the search is complete, double-click SCANPST.EXE to start the Inbox Repair Tool.
  • In the Enter the name of the file you want to scan box, type the path and file name of the Outlook .pst file that you found in step 2.
  • Click Start.
  • After the Inbox Repair Tool operation is complete, click OK.

After these steps have been completed, hopefully your PST file has been repaired. If it has not then the next best option is to purchase a PST recovery program. These can costa good 100 bucks but for most people it is worth paying 100 dollars for all your e-mail. The only program we recommend for PST recovery is This Outlook PST Repair Software

For more great tips check out our Outlook PST Repair articles. As well you may be interested in learning how to backup Outlook PST file.