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Repairing Outlook 2007 Data File Errors

Here's how to clean up Outlook 2007 data file errors.

Chris: After upgrading to Outlook 2007, I get a data file error every time I open Outlook. The exact error message I see is "A data file did not close properly the last time it was used and is being checked for problems. Performance might be affected while the check is in progress." After a few minutes, I see the error message "Data file check complete." I'm guessing that Outlook is checking for errors, and since it doesn't find any, does not repair them.

But if there isn't a problem, why does Outlook keep checking in the first place?
--Tara

Tara, several others have run into the same problem that you describe. I have also personally had to work through this issue as well. When Outlook continually looks for data file errors, that's because Outlook believes there is a problem. However, to repair any errors, the data file -- more specifically the Outlook .pst file -- needs to be offline. So to correct the problem, you will first need to determine the location of your Outlook pst files. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. In Outlook 2007, click the Tools menu and select Options.
  2. In the Options dialog box, click the Mail Setup tab and then click the Data Files button.
  3. In the Account settings window, you will see all of your personal Outlook data files listed. Here, you want to note the full path to each data file. On my system, my Outlook personal and archive folders are stored in the C:\Documents and Settings\Chris Wolf\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook folder.
  4. Once you have this information, close the Account Settings dialog box and then close the Outlook Options window.

Now that you have the location of your Outlook data files, you need to check and repair them using the Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 Inbox Repair Tool-SCANPST.exe. By default, you should see SCANPST.exe in the Microsoft Office installation folder's "Office 12" subfolder. On my system, SCANPST.exe is located in D:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office 12. For additional information on SCANPST.exe, take a look at the Microsoft Knowledge Base article, "How to use the Inbox Repair Tools to recover e-mail messages in Outlook 2002 and Outlook 2003."

To check and repair your Outlook data files, follow these steps:

  1. First, close Outlook 2007.
  2. Use Windows Explorer to browse to SCANPST.exe, then double-click it.
  3. When the Outlook 2007 Inbox Repair Tool opens, click Browse and navigate to the Outlook data file location that you found earlier. Note that you will need to check each file listed. On my system, I start with the file archive.pst. To check that file, you would select it in the "Select File to Scan" dialog box and then click Open.
  4. Now click Start to begin the repair process. If errors are encountered, you will see the window shown in Fig. 1.

    SCANPST.exe
    Figure 1. SCANPST spots and gets ready to repair those error-laden .pst files.

  5. Ensure that the "Make backup of scanned file before repairing" box is checked and then click Repair.
  6. Once you see the "Repair Complete" popup, click OK.
  7. Repeat steps 2-6 to scan the same file that was just checked and repaired by SCANPST.exe. Continue to run the check against the same file until no errors are found.
  8. Repeat steps 2-7 for all additional pst files that are located in your Outlook folder.
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Once all of your Outlook .pst files are successfully repaired, you should be able to open Outlook and no longer see the error message that had been plaguing you.

About the Author

Chris Wolf is a Microsoft MVP for Windows --Virtual Machine and is a MCSE, MCT, and CCNA. He's a Senior Analyst for Burton Group who specializes in the areas of virtualization solutions, high availability, storage and enterprise management. Chris is the author of Virtualization: From the Desktop to the Enterprise (Apress), Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies (Addison Wesley), and a contributor to the Windows Server 2003 Deployment Kit (Microsoft Press).learningstore-20/">Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies (Addison Wesley) and a contributor to the Windows Server 2003 Deployment Kit (Microsoft Press).

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