Email Repair

How to Fix ‘PST File is not an Outlook Data File’ Error?

Author: Charanjeet Kaur | Updated on October 16, 2020 | Email Repair | Outlook PST File Error | 9 min read

Summary: While opening or importing a PSTfile into Outlook on another system, you may encounter the 'PSTfile is not an Outlook data file'error.This article outlines the possible reasons behind the error. It also describessolutions on 'how to fix PST file is not an Outlook data file'error.

Personal Storage Table (PST) Fileis an Outlook Data File that is used to store emails, calendar, and othermailbox items for POP3 accounts, on your computer.

Note: In Outlook 2013 and previous versions, PST file is alsoused to store emails and other information for IMAP accounts.

Also referred to as OutlookPersonal Folder (.pst) file, it can be used to archive older messages andmailbox items – not just by POP3 accounts – but also IMAP and Exchange accounts.More importantly, a PST file can be moved from one machine to another, allowingusers to transfer Outlook data to another system. However, users often reportabout receiving 'PST file is not anOutlook data file' error message when opening or importing PST file into anOutlook application installed on another machine.

The exact error message lookssimilar to:

Error Message

Figure 1- PST is not an Outlook data file error message

Why the 'PST File is not an Outlook DataFile' Error Occurs?

If you get "The file isnot an Outlook data file (.pst)" error when trying to import or open aPST file in another computer, it indicates a problem with the Import/Exportprocess or the file.

Following are some reasons thatmay result in the error:

Reason 1 – Corrupt PST File
It usually occurs when the datafile you are trying to transfer (or import) is corrupt. The PST file may getcorrupt due to any of these reasons:

  1. Abrupt Termination of Outlook Application: A PST file may turn corrupt if Outlook application terminates abnormally, when you're migrating mailbox data to another computer.
  2. Presence of Bad Sectors in Hard Drive: Bad sectors on a hard drive used to move Outlook data from one computer to the other computer can also result in PST file corruption.
  3. Oversized PST: PST file can grow fairly large in size when you start adding messages with large attachments. And an Outlook data file exceeding its defined size limit (50 GB) can easily become corrupt.

Note: The size limit of .pst file in Outlook 2007 is 20 GB.

Reason 2 – Exporting Outlook Data to a New PST from an Existing PST File
If your Outlook client is notconnected to an Exchange mailbox, then all the mailbox data will be stored in a.pst file. So, you don't need to export data to Outlook Personal Folder File.That's because, exporting data to a PST file from an already existing (opened)PST file will result in data loss and the error in question.

Howto Solve 'PST File is not an Outlook Data File' Error?

Before moving on tosolutions, follow these troubleshooting steps to resolve the issue:

Step 1 – Uncheck theFile 'Read-Only' Attribute

If you are trying to accessa PST file saved on a removable media, portable drive or any other storagemedia, verify if the PST file status is set to read-only. To do so, right-clickon the PST file, and then select Properties.From the Properties window, in the Generaltab, make sure that the 'Read-only' attribute is unchecked. If not, uncheck itand see if you can open the PST file.

Pst File Properties Windows

Figure 2- PST File Properties Window

Step 2 - Copy the PSTFile to Another Location

Try copying the PST file toanother location. For instance, copy the file from default location and paste itinto the Documents folder on your PC, and then go to File > Open for openingthe Outlook Data File within Outlook.

Step 3 - Check PSTFile Size

If you get the errormessage "The file isnot an Outlook Data File (.pst)", when trying to restore backup of anoriginal PST file, check if your PST file is oversized. Simply put, make surethat the file you are trying to access hasn't exceeded its permissible sizelimit. If it has, the PST file may become unstable (or corrupt).

You will need to repair a corrupt PST file to access the file contents

Read this: How to Deal With Too Large PST File > 50GB?

Solutions to Fix 'PST File is not an OutlookData File' Error

Following are somesolutions that can help resolve the issue:

Solution 1 – Try Repairing the File Usingthe Inbox Repair Utility

As discussed above,corruption in PST file could be the major reason behind 'PST not an Outlookdata file' error. You can try repairing the PST file to access its data. Usethe Microsoft built-in repair utility, called the Inbox Repair Tool (ScanPST.exe)to diagnose and repair Outlook Data File errors.

To use Scanpst.exe, follow these steps:

Step 1: Find Scanpst.exe

SCANPST.exe comes along with Microsoft Outlookinstallation. It is located in the Outlook installation directory. But, thelocation of SCANPST.exe will vary depending on the Outlook version installed onyour PC and the Outlook edition (64-bit or 32-bit) you are using. Browse it inthe following locations:

In Outlook 2019 (Office 365)

  1. 32-bit Version: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\root\Office19
  2. 64-bit Version: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\root\Office19

In Outlook 2016:

  1. 32-bit Outlook: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office16\
  2. 64-bit Outlook: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\

In Outlook 2013:

  1. 32-bit Outlook: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15\
  2. 64-bit Outlook: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15\

In Outlook 2010:

  1. 32-bit Outlook: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14\
  2. 64-bit Outlook: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\

In Outlook 2007:

  1. 32-bit Windows: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office12\
  2. 64-bit Windows: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\

Note:If you still cannot locate Scanpst.exe, try repairing the Office installation.

Step 2: RunSCANPST

Once you have located the Scanpst.exe tool, followthese steps to repair a corrupt PST file:

Note: Before running the tool, make sure to close the Outlookapplication. Also, since Scanpst.exe is a hidden file, you will need the'Show hidden files and folders' option to be enabled in your Folderoptions.

  • Double-click SCANPST.

Figure 3- Scan the Selected PST File

  • The tool will begin to scan the selected file. If it displays any errors, make sure that the 'Make backup of scanned file before repairing' checkbox is checked.

Figure 4- Scanpst Repair PST File

  • Click Repair.
  • On successfully repairing the file, the 'Repair Complete' message will appear. Click OK and try accessing the repaired PST file.

Figure 5- PST Repair Complete Message Box

Note: If you receive an error message 'PST file is in use', closeyour Outlook application and try accessing the file again.

SomeShortcomings of Scanpst.exe

Scanpst.exeis a free to use repair utility, but it has certain downsides:

  • It may fail to fix an oversized or severely corrupt PST file.
  • Several users have reported that the Inbox Repair Tool may freeze or stop responding in the middle of repair process.
  • You may have to run the tool several times to fix corruption errors in PST file, which makes the repair process tedious and time-consuming.

To overcome such limitations, you need a morereliable PST file repair tool to dealwith corruption and other Outlook data file errors.

Solution 2 – Use Stellar Repair for OutlookSoftware

If none of the troubleshooting steps orsolutions helps resolve the 'PST file isnot an Outlook Data File' issue, use StellarRepair for Outlook software to quickly restore the file to its originalformat.

The software is the best alternative to Scanpst.exe tool. It can parse through severelydamaged or corrupt PST files and repair them in just a few clicks. Also, itrecovers all mailbox items including emails, attachments, contacts, calendars,etc. into a new usable PST.

The software has an easy-to-use GUI, repairs encrypted PSTfile, previews recoverable mail items before saving, and has option to 'Find'PST file. These are some of the features that make Stellar Repair for Outlook thebest alternative to Scanpst.exe.

Steps to Repair Corrupt PST by UsingStellar Repair for Outlook Software

To scan and repair PST file, download andinstall StellarRepair for Outlook software. Onceit is installed, run the software and then follow these steps:

Step 1: From the software home menu, click Browse or Find in the 'SelectPST file for Repair' dialog box.

Figure 6- Select PST file to Repair

Step 2: Afterselecting the PST file, click Repair to begin repairingthe file.

Figure 7- Repair Corrupt PST file

Step 3: Thesoftware begins to scan the corrupt PST file.

Note: The scanning process may take time based on theseverity of .pst file corruption.

Figure 8- Stellar Repair for Outlook PST Scanning Process

Step 4: Oncescanning is complete, the software displays a preview of the repaired items onthe left panel of the preview window. You can browseand check contents of a mailbox item by selecting the right folder.

Note: You can save the scanned Outlook data file information by clicking 'Save Scan'. You can use the saved scan results to perform PST repair or recovery at a later stage.

Figure 9- Preview of Repaired PST File

Step 5: For saving the repaired PST file, choose the Save Repaired File option on File menu.

Step 6: In the 'Save As' dialog box, choose PST file format from the multiple saving options. Next, click Browse to select the location where you wish to save the repaired(and recovered) PST file.

Figure 10- File Saving Options

Step 7: Click OK to proceed with the file savingprocess.

Figure 11- PST File Saving in Progress

Step 8: When the 'Saving Complete' message box pops-up, click OK.

Figure 12- PST File Saving Complete

Now you can find your repaired PST file at the selectedlocation.

TechnicalRequirements to Install the Software
Supported Operating System:
Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, XP
RAM Required: 2GB Minimum (4 GB recommended)
Hard Disk: 250 MB of free space
Supported Outlook Version: MS Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, 2003, and earlier versions


You may encounter 'PST is not an Outlook Data File' error whentrying to open or import a PST file into another machine. It may occur due toreasons such as corruption in PST file, exporting Outlook data to a PST filefrom an already opened (or existing) .pst file, etc.

You can troubleshoot the error by ensuring that the filestatus is not set to 'Read-only' or check if the Outlook data file size doesnot exceed its recommended limit. If the error persists, repair the PST file byusing Scanpst.exe tool. If the tool fails to fix corruption in the Outlook datafile, you can take the help of a professional PST repair tool such as StellarRepair for Outlook to repair and recover mailbox data.

Once you have restored your Outlook Personal Folder (.pst)file, note these important points toprevent the error from occurring again:

  1. Avoid using the Import/Export wizard to move Outlook data file (.pst) from one Outlook version to another. Instead, you can copy the PST file, with Outlook closed.
  2. Avoid pasting the copied PST file into the default location.
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