How to Fix Error – “Outlook.pst is Not a Personal Folders File”

In this article, you will learn the reasons that lead to Outlook.pst is not a personal folders file error and the solution to resolve it without losing any mail

Microsoft Outlook is a robust email client and calendaring application that can be used as a personal information manager. Users can add their email accounts to Outlook and use the application to manage mail items, such as emails, contacts, attachments, calendar items, etc.

To store the mail items, Outlook creates a personal folder or .PST file, which is essentially a database file containing the mail items in form of BTree indexes and reference counts.

When you launch Outlook, it reads the .PST database file and displays all the content stored in the file. However, sometimes due to some issues with the PST file, Outlook may fail to access or read the PST file leading to errors, such as “Outlook.pst is not a personal folders file.”

PST file leading to errors

In this article, you will learn the reasons that lead to Outlook.pst is not a personal folders file error and the solution to resolve it without losing any mail item by using built-in Outlook options and Microsoft tools.

Reasons for “Outlook.pst is Not a Personal Folder File” Error

There could be many reasons that can cause damage to the PST file or prevent Outlook from accessing the mail items stored in the PST file leading to the error. Some of the common reasons include,

  • Large or oversized PST file
  • Lack of read/write permissions
  • Inconsistencies in PST file
  • Incompatible add-ins
  • Malware or virus intrusion
  • Abrupt system shutdown or crash

Solutions to Fix Error “Outlook.pst is Not a Personal Folders File”

Since the error is a result of an unreadable or corrupt PST file, you should try repairing the PST file using the Inbox Repair tool or a third-party Outlook repair software, such as Stellar Repair for Outlook.

Below, we have discussed both solutions in detail to help you resolve the “Outlook.pst is Not a Personal Folders File” error.

Solution 1: Use Inbox Repair Tool (SCANPST.EXE)

SCANPST.EXE or Inbox Repair Tool is a built-in utility provided by Microsoft. The tool is designed to repair corrupt or damaged Outlook PST files and fix errors associated with the .pst file that may prevent Outlook from reading the content (mail items) stored in it.

By default, the tool is located in the Microsoft Office installation directory. However, the location may slightly vary based on the Outlook and Windows version installed on your system. You may look for the tool at the following location.

C:\Program Files(x86)\Microsoft Office\Office16

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16

Once located, launch the Inbox Repair tool and follow these steps to repair the damaged PST file and fix the ‘Outlook.pst is not a personal folders file’ error.

  • Click ‘Browse’ and select the inaccessible PST file. If you don’t know where the PST file is located, refer to this Microsoft guide.

If you don’t know where the PST file is located, refer to this Microsoft guide

  • Click the ‘Start’ This will scan the PST file for errors and corruption.
  • If errors are found, the tool displays an option to repair the PST file. Click ‘Repair
  • Wait for a while. During the repair process, the Inbox Repair Tool may stop responding and run several times to completely repair your personal folder file (.pst).

After the repair, open Outlook and check if you can now open and access the PST file and your mail items without encountering the Outlook.pst is not a personal folders file’ error.

However, if the tool fails to repair the PST file, crashes, or you find missing mail items after the repair, use a third-party PST repair tool to repair the damaged file.

Solution 2: Use Outlook Repair Software

The Inbox Repair Tool cannot repair a severely corrupt PST file. It also has a limit of 2GB file PST size limit. Moreover, it removes mail items that can’t be recovered during PST file repair leading to loss of mail items.

Thus, it’s recommended to use a reliable third-party Outlook repair tool to repair severely corrupt or large-sized PST files without risk of losing any mail item. It does not alter the original PST file and maintains the folder hierarchy/structure even after the repair, meaning all your mail items and folders remain intact.

The steps to repair the PST file are as follow,

  • Download and install Stellar Repair for Outlook
  • Launch the software. It automatically lists all the PST files stored at the default location. You may choose the PST to file from the list ‘Default Location’ list or click ‘Choose Location’ to select the PST file manually. Then click ‘Repair

Launch the software

  • After the repair, the software displays a preview window where you can click on any mail item to see its preview. You can preview emails, calendars, contacts, etc.

After the repair

  • Select all the mail items you want to save to a new healthy Outlook PST file and click ‘Save Repaired File.

Save Repaired File

  • Choose ‘PST’ from the options and click ‘Browse’ to choose a save location.
  • Then click ‘OK.’ This will save all the mail items from repaired PST file to a new Outlook PST file, which you can import to your new or existing Outlook account and restore the mail items.

You can also recover encrypted PSTs using the software and export the mail items from repaired PST files directly to Office 365 or other portable file formats, such as HTML, RTF, PDF, MSG, or EML.


“Outlook.pst is Not a Personal Folders File” is a common Outlook error that occurs when the PST file storing all the mail items becomes inaccessible. Reasons such as system crash, oversizing, faulty add-ins, malware or virus intrusion, etc. can damage and corrupt the PST file. However, you can repair a corrupt PST file using the built-in Microsoft Inbox Repair Tool or SCANPST.EXE. The tool repairs minor PST file corruption with a file size up to 2GB. If the PST file is larger than 2GB or severely damaged, the Inbox Repair tool crashes or repairs the PST file by removing irrecoverable mail items. To avoid the risk of data loss and ensure recovery from severely damaged or corrupt PST files with complete integrity, use a third-party Outlook repair tool as mentioned and discussed in this article.

More Great Contents