Alsco recovers emails from PST and OST Files- 90 GB Outlook mailbox data within 24 hrs
Alsco is a commercial linen and uniform rental company based in Salt Lake City, Utah in the United States. The company has 1000+ employees, most of whom use Microsoft Outlook 2016 for email messaging and workplace collaboration. Situation 1:
A tenured employee, associated with the company’s legal department for over 15 years, had been using Outlook for external communication on legal matters. He had reported a nagging sluggishness in Outlook performance when sending and receiving emails, opening email attachments, and launching the application. Of late, he had also begun facing application crash while in the middle of drafting a message or previewing attachments.
Repeat instances of Outlook crash ultimately led to a situation wherein the user was simply unable to open his mailbox in Outlook. The IT administrator at Alsco tried fixing this issue; uninstalled & reinstalled Outlook client on user machine, tried accessing the PST file in Outlook installed on another machine, etc. But, the PST couldn’t be opened in Outlook, and hence, the mailbox data became inaccessible.
While attempting these steps, the admin found that the PST file was larger than 70 GB in size; this was a strong indicator of file corruption, as is common with oversized PST files. The user hadn’t enabled Auto Archive feature - which is turned off by default in Outlook 2010 and later versions - for archiving the mailbox. Also, there was no backup of the PST file.
This was a situation staring at loss of 70 GB mailbox data – comprising several critical emails – unless the corrupt PST could be repaired. Situation 2:
Another key member of the legal department had left the organization, so, his mailbox was deleted from Exchange Server. The request to back up his mailbox arrived much later – 30 days after deletion – so, the mailbox got permanently removed from EDB, and there was no possibility of restoring it.
The user’s mailbox data could be accessed through the OST — that is if it could be opened. However, the OST was inaccessible in absence of associated mailbox on Exchange. So, again, this was a situation leading up to permanent loss, unless mailbox data could be extracted from the OST.
As turned out later— Alsco needed to access a few specific emails from both these mailboxes to serve a legal request for lawsuit. This was a business-critical situation for the company, considering its legal nature with high stakes.
Mailbox Recovery Attempts
The IT administrator needed to recover the mailboxes as fast as possible, while ensuring that all emails were maintained intact. He had to find ways to repair the corrupt PST file and access the orphaned OST.
He began with using Outlook Inbox Repair Tool (scanpst.exe) to repair the corrupt PST. The utility scanned and analyzed the PST file for errors, but, it didn’t respond after he clicked Repair button to fix the errors; Inbox Repair Tool remained stuck after scanning the PST. Running the utility through command line also didn’t help, as the scanning process went on perpetually without any indication of repair action. The ineffectiveness of scanpst.exe was plausibly due to the large size of PST, as some users have reported. There was no immediate solution in sight to repair the PST.
Next, the admin attempted recovery of mailbox data from the inaccessible OST file, and tried a few utilities. However, he came across limitations such as loss of mailbox data integrity, missing emails, slow performance, etc.
Every failed recovery attempt was costing Alsco valuable time for retrieving those critical emails while the deadline to serve the legal request was inching closer. Business Need
Following were the business needs:
- Recover mailbox data from corrupt PST & inaccessible OST
- Maintain integrity of emails after recovery
- Extract emails in the least possible time
Researching online for solutions, the administrator came across a case study that narrated a similar situation of mailbox data loss due to PST file corruption. That subject organization in the case study had successfully repaired a large PST and recovered mailbox data by using Stellar Toolkit for Outlook. This seemed a relevant find.
Browsing further on the software, the admin found that Stellar Outlook Toolkit also had a software for extracting mailbox data from inaccessible OST files. This was a serendipitous discovery and a good starting point to explore the solution.
So, he downloaded a free trial version of the toolkit and first ran the PST file repair software to scan the corrupt PST. The tool scanned the file in a few hours and previewed all mailbox items including deleted emails. He could preview those specific emails and their contents as well, and it seemed they could be individually recovered from the mailbox.
Next, he turned to “Convert OST to PST” module in Toolkit that offered extraction of mailbox data by converting OST into PST format. Again, he launched the trial software to scan the OST which was instantly opened in it. The software scanned 20 GB of mailbox data in about 2.5 hours and previewed all mailbox items which could be individually recovered.
Having ascertained that the Toolkit will meet all the business needs, the admin purchased the license key and activated the software. He was able to save those specific emails from PST and OST files, and was able to finish this business-critical task within 24 hours. Key Benefits
Alsco was able to regain access to 90 GB+ mailbox data, comprising several important emails and documents. The company was able to restore specifically needed emails in their original form, while spending minimal time and manual efforts. Aside from facilitating mailbox data recovery in this situation, the Toolkit would help Alsco to address similar needs in the long term.