Since I’m using Outlook all day, everyday, it seems inevitable that things will go wrong from time to time. Here are two tools I use to help keep things running smoothly and to back up my mail files:
Microsoft Back-up Tool
Microsoft In-Box Repair Tool
First, we’ll talk about the Back-up tool. I don’t know why Microsoft doesn’t include this tool when Outlook is installed (works with 2002, 2003 & 2007), but it doesn’t. So go here read through the brief instruction set and download and install the program.
Before getting the backup file download, you may have to install the anti-piracy plug-in (office genuine advantage tool), so Microsoft can assure themselves you aren’t a pirate.
After the download is complete, close Outlook and install the software. Then, after opening Outlook, go to the File menu and you’ll see a new menu item called “backup”.
Click on it and you’ll see the below box.
Here you can choose to backup your main pst file, your archive files and whatever other mail files you may have. You can choose how often to backup and where the backup will be stored. I would strongly suggest you backup these important files in a couple of places (using Carbonite, Mozy, or an external hard drive). If your hard drive goes down and that’s where your backup is, it won’t do you much good! Another thing to remember – the backup tool won’t
run unless you exit Outlook. So, if like me, you hardly ever close your Outlook, set a reminder to do so regularly so a backup can be made.
Microsoft In-Box Repair Tool
This second tool will scan and repair your mail file. Ever go to open Outlook and it just won’t open! It’s happened to me and it created quite a bit of anxiety! Whenever I get these lovely cryptic messages from Microsoft, I google them to see if anyone else out there has had the same problem and I can usually find the answer from a fellow blogger.
This tool does come installed with Outlook (2002, 2003, 2007), but is buried deep within your folder structure (see below for location). To use this tool, you will again have Outlook closed and then navigate to the correct folder and double click on either the application .ost or .pst to scan the file type you wish. Then, you’ll need to navigate to where your mail files resides and select that and then click ‘start’. The tool will begin running and go through the check. When it’s through it will let you know how many errors (if any), were found and then you have the option to back up your file before it does its repair. After the repair process is complete, start Outlook and see if your file will open.
I hope you’ll give these tools a workout. I’ve found them to come in pretty handy. It’s worth noting that if you don’t have a pst file that represents your outlook file, you won’t be able to restore your mail files. So it’s important to have regular mail backups in place. In addition to using the back-up tool, I use the free and popular Gmail IMAP feature so I can access my Outlook from either the web interface or my desktop client. I blogged about it here. Redundancy is good.
Below are detailed instructions on how to use the In-Box Repair tool (from Microsoft).
Quit Microsoft Outlook if it’s running.
Run the Inbox Repair Tool
1. Click Start and point to Find, or Search, depending upon your operating system.
2. In the Search for files or folders named box, type scanpst.exe.
3. Double click the Scanpst.exe file to open the program.
4. Type the path and file name of the pst file, or click Browse to locate the file using the windows file system.
5. Click Start.
Sometimes many errors will be found and you’ll have the option to back-up your file before repairing. After the repair process (usually very fast), start Outlook again and hopefully, your file will open for you.
At the Microsoft link given above, continue reading for instructions and information on more detailed information if you need to do additional repair work on your mail file.