Do You Know How to Fix ‘Outlook .PST cannot be Opened’ Problem?

The MS Outlook system stores the contents of the mailbox in either PST or OST file format. When you include a POP account in your MS Outlook application, the PST or Personal Storage Table will be created. 

MS Outlook automatically syncs the contents of the mailbox such as attachments, emails, calendars, contacts, notes, etc. from the server of the email and saves them in the PST file format. Users also use the PST file format to take a backup and archive the Outlook Office 365, Exchange, and IMAP emails. Users can open the backup and access the content stored in the backup PST file anytime they want through different Outlook options. However, sometimes the PST files cause problems and become unresponsive and showcase errors such as Outlook PST file is in use and cannot be opened. 

What are the Primary Reasons Behind the ‘Outlook PST cannot be Opened’ Error 

Even though it may seem that the PST files are being accessed by other applications, force-stopping all the applications and restarting the system might not help you solve this problem. Various reasons could trigger this problem, such as:

  • Incorrect termination of the MS Outlook application which causes the outlook.exe to run in the background. 
  • The backup of the PST files continues to run in the background. 
  • Faulty add-ins or installing Outlook conflicting software. 
  • Corrupted or damaged PSTT files due to disk errors, oversize, Outlook or system crash. 
  • Sometimes the anti-spyware or anti-virus programs remove files without any headers, which cause the PST files to become inaccessible. 
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Signs of PST File Corruption 

Frequent freezes, application crashes, or failure to launch the MS Outlook application are some of the common reasons behind corrupted pst. Since there are multiple reasons why the PST files face corruption, users need to have proper control over them. The most common cause of PST file corruption is oversize of the PST files, which are prone to damage due to integrity issues. Therefore, you should pay close attention to the causes of PST file corruption as well as effective solutions so that you can prevent any trouble. 

When the PST files are corrupted, the system will prevent you from accessing the email contents on the MS Outlook application. Therefore, make sure you fix this problem as quickly as possible so that you can gain access to your email content again. 

Some Methods to Fix ‘Outlook PST cannot be Opened’ Error 

Make sure you follow these methods properly so that you can fix this issue without damaging your email contents and other confidential data files. 

Close All Programs and Processes 

Just like the error suggests, make sure you turn off all the programs that have the access to the MS Outlook PST data files. Apart from that, you also need to ensure that you prevent the MS Outlook application from doing the same thing. To know whether an MS Outlook related process is operating in the background, make sure you follow these steps:

  • Open the Taskbar and right-click to choose the option Task Manager. 
  • Click on the option More Details and then go to the Processes tab. 
  • Now search the processes name that starts with ‘Outlook, ‘Lyne’, ‘Communicator’, ‘UCMAPI’ and end all these processes. To end them, just right-click on each of the processes and click on the ‘End Task’ option. After that, exit the Task Manager and restart your MS Outlook application. 
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Open MS Outlook Application in Safe Method 

When you launch your MS Outlook application in Safe Mode, you will be able to know if some specific add-ins is the primary cause behind this problem. As per Tech Target, add-in is a term used especially by Microsoft. If your MS Outlook application works smoothly in the safe mode without any problem, you need to install the third-party add-ins from the MS Outlook application while running it in the safe mode. Here are the following steps;

  • To open your MS Outlook application in safe mode, close the application and then run the command prompt by Windows+R. 
  • After that, type outlook.exe/safe and then hit Enter. 
  • If the same MS Outlook error showcases even after running the application in Safe Mode, you need to go to the File > Options > Add-ins and then disable all the third-party add-ins. 
  • After that, launch the MS Outlook application. Start enable to add-ins one by one to know which one was causing the troubles. 

Fix the PST Files Errors with Inbox Repair Tool 

In case the aforementioned techniques fail to solve the MS Outlook PST problem, there might be an issue with the PST file itself. As mentioned earlier, the PST files might suffer from damages or corruption due for various reasons.  

This is where the Inbox Repair Tool or the ScanPST.exe tool will come in handy, which is located in the installation directory of the MS Office. 


This is how you can solve the ‘Outlook .PST cannot be Opened’ issue. Do you have any other questions? Make sure you let us know. 

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Heena Naaz

Heena Naaz is a professional digital marketer and blogger at Techpuzz a tch blogging website. She also serves link-building services. To buy high-quality SaaS and tech backlinks outreach her.

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