Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
.pst files are Microsoft Outlook's email and data storage containers. They can occasionally be damaged, but Microsoft Office includes a repair tool.
I am running Windows 7 and my Outlook has stopped working. It states that the folder that the .pst is in is damaged. I was hoping that you could provide me with a fix please and thanks. Error Message: Cannot start MS Outlook. Cannot open the Outlook window. The set of Folders cannot be opened. Errors have been detected in the file C:\Users\Avery\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\Outlook.pst
".pst" files are the container files used by Microsoft Office's Outlook email program to store all of your data. (Note that this is not Outlook Express, which is a different, unrelated program that I recommend that people stop using.)
When that file becomes corrupt for whatever reason, the potential for data loss is high. Fortunately, it doesn't happen often and being a single file makes it almost trivial to backup regularly.
But because it can happen, Microsoft includes a tool with Office to help repair your Outlook .pst file: scanpst.
Before you run scanpst, you'll need to close Outlook if you have it running. Scanpst can't do its job if Outlook has the .pst file open at the same time.
After closing Outlook, I recommend making a backup of the .pst file. Because it's a single file, just copy it somewhere for safe keeping in case scanpst makes things worse or causes unexpected data loss (it's been known to happen.)
Scanpst, as its name implies, scans your .pst files for errors and repairs them if it can.
Even though you probably won't find it on any Start menu, scanpst should be included with your installation of Microsoft Office:
Here you can see ScanPst.exe in Windows Explorer where it's located in "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14".
"Program Files (x86)" may be simply be "Program Files", depending on your version of Windows, and "Office14" may be some other number depending on your version of Microsoft Office (this example uses Office 2010 in Windows 7 64-bit).
Double-click scanpst to run it.
Scanpst's interface is very simple:
It only asks you for the location of the .pst file that you want to scan.
In your case, the error message told you exactly where to look: "C:\Users\Avery\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\Outlook.pst" and that's exactly what you would enter, or you could use the Browse button to locate the file.
In my example, my pst file is at "C:\Users\LeoN\Documents\Outlook Files\Outlook.pst".
After you've entered the .pst file location, click Start.
If your .pst file is large, scanpst will take a while to perform its checks. If it finds any anomalies, it will prompt you before repairing them:
Even though you made a backup of the .pst file before we began, it's a good idea to let scanpst make another. You can never really have too many backups.
Click Repair and let scanpst do its thing.
Assuming that all succeeds, you can now re-open Outlook and hopefully the errors will have been resolved.
If not or if you're at all curious, you'll also find a ".log" file in the same folder as your ".pst" file that may give you some clues as to what might be happening. Chances are that there will be a lot of technical gibberish, as .pst files are very complex, but as I said, perhaps there will be a useful clue.
One of the most common causes of .pst corruption, and unfortunately data loss, is having an "old format" .pst (pre-Outlook 2003) that exceeds two gigabytes in size. Even though you may have upgraded Outlook itself, the file format may not have been automatically converted to a newer format capable of handing larger file sizes. If that happens to you, you'll need to upgrade the file format yourself.
In general, large .pst files are something to be avoided for a number of reasons. I do have a few hints for dealing with large pst files.
Unfortunately PST repair topics tend to be magnets for comment spam relating to third party tools that supposedly repair PSTs. As a result I'll have to reject any comment that looks like that kind of comment spam. If you're legitimately sharing a good experience - I apologize, please blame all the spammers - if you have a product you wish to promote, you can read up on advertising on Ask Leo!.