Outlook is a Microsoft desktop email client that is extremely popular in corporate and organizational environments world over. One of the most distinctive features of Outlook is the Personal Storage Table (PST) file system that acts like a container for storing all email messages, contacts, notes, calendars, etc. While PST files benefit users by keeping all the data locally on the users’ computers and bypass the email inbox size restrictions imposed by the IT department, the files are also notoriously unstable and prone to corruption. While the PST file corruption can happen due to several reasons like improper shutdown, power failure, etc., the chances increase considerably with the file size. While there is no way of making Outlook foolproof, users can do several things to reduce the chances of PST file corruption. Some handy tips by the experts:
Limit the PST file Size
One of the biggest problems of using Outlook is that the size of the PST file that stores all the information can balloon considerably with regular use as the emails accumulate in the Inbox and Sent Box. Not paying attention to the PST file can mean that it becomes oversized and more prone to corruption. Typically, users don’t bother about deleting necessary emails in the belief that all they do is take up more storage space, which is not in short supply on modern desktops. However, the problem with PST files becoming large is that the computer becomes sluggish, and it can impact user productivity, especially, if the file becomes corrupted and prevents them from accessing their emails. Even though PST files currently have a limit of 50 GB, you should endeavor to keep deleting unnecessary emails, create new PST folders, and move some of the files there.
De-clutter PST Files
Too many items in an individual PST folder can pave the way for severe corruption and limit opportunities for PST recovery. To prevent this, you can move some items to other folders to rearrange the folder and reduce the clutter. It gives more breathing space to the file and prevents file corruption. You can also reduce the Outlook data folder clutter by archiving the mail items. If you have too many email messages and other Outlook files stored in a single PST folder on the local device, the file can swell in size rapidly and lead to file corruption. By archiving the PST files, you prevent the chances of corruption and also boost the system performance.
Create a New Outlook Profile
The PST files can get affected if the Outlook profile is not configured correctly. The quickest solution is to delete the profile, and create a fresh one. The removal process of the Outlook profile depends on which of the two mail protocols is in use – IMAP or POP3. To remove a profile configured with IMAP, you do not need to take a backup and delete the profile from the Control Panel, whereas, on a POP3 mail protocol, the process requires you to export the mailbox, delete the old profile, create a new one, and import the mailbox.
Close Outlook Program Properly
One of the main reasons for PST file corruption is the computer shutting down suddenly when the Outlook program is still open on the user’s computer. It can happen due to a power failure or even when the user forgets to close Outlook before powering down the computer. It may also happen if the user is in a rush and switches off the computer before Outlook has the chance to close properly.
Ensure PST files Reside on the Local Disk, Not the Server
PST files are designed to store information on the device the user accesses Outlook. However, even though the files are portable and can be moved to the central server, it can cause significant degradation of the device performance due to the lag that result from the data having to move from the server to the local machine. Further, when multiple users try to access the same file simultaneously on the server, it can lead to file corruption. Configuring your Outlook account using POP3, not IMAP, is a good way of ensuring that the PAST files are saved on the local disk, not the server. According to Tech News KB, PST files are not compatible for sharing on a network.
It is good to be aware of the unstable nature of large PST files and take every possible step to prevent them from becoming too large, even if the system allows them to balloon. Regularly cleaning up your email inbox can help to limit the size of the PST files, de-clutter the files, and boost system performance. You should also disable or remove any Outlook add-ins that do not add significantly to your productivity, as old and outdated add-ins invariably lead to performance issues. If you do encounter PST file corruption, you should first try out ScanPST.exe, the in-app repair tool provided by Outlook, but if you are unsuccessful, you can take recourse to specialist third-party software solutions with more advanced capabilities.