Outlook Troubleshooting

Outlook Error ‘Outlook PST in use and cannot be accessed’ – Solved!

As Outlook users would be aware, all their mailbox data on local machines in stored within a file known as Personal Storage Table (PST) file. This file is damaged/corrupted has the ability to make Outlook inaccessible for you. That’s the primary reason why each Outlook user should not only know about the PST, but also know how to deal with associated issues.

In this article we will be focusing on a specific problem scenario caused due to PST file corruption resulting in the error message, “Outlook data file cannot be accessed”. We will also talk about how to handle this issue and perform Outlook PST repair.

Problem Scenario

A number of Outlook users post queries on technical forums stating that Outlook crashes suddenly while working and when they try to relaunch it, the following error message appears:

The file C:\Users\user name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\user name\username.pst is in use and cannot be accessed. Close any application that is using this file, and then try again. You might need to restart your computer.

While for some users, restarting may solve the problem, for some it may not. Moreover, all users might not afford to restart their machine at the time owing to other important applications running. In such a case, what should a user do?

Understanding the Problem

Before moving on to the solution to this problem, it would be a good idea to know why it occurs in the first place. This knowledge will help you prevent the problem from happening again.

The error mentioned above occurs due to corruption in the Outlook PST file. And the major reasons behind PST file corruption include:

All the above-mentioned causes for PST corruption are quite avoidable. If you have proper anti-virus installed and you take care not to download attachments from suspicious senders, you can avoid virus infections to the PST. With a UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) you can make sure your computer doesn’t shut down abruptly due to power loss. And when both these aspects are taken care of, application malfunction can be highly minimized.

As far as PST exceeding its size limit is concerned, that is totally up to you. If you keep your Outlook mailbox healthy by frequently deleted old and unused emails, attachments, notes, journal entries etc. and engage in regular mail archiving, you should be able to defer this problem.

However, in large organizations where thousands of emails are exchanged frequently and people don’t have the time to invest in cleaning up the mailbox, sometimes, a PST file corruption becomes unavoidable. So read the next sections to know how you can fix the issue.

Primary fixes you can try

Here are 3 great ways in which you can solve the “Outlook data file cannot be accessed” error:

  1. Disable Cached Exchange Mode

Here are the steps:

  1. Kill All Outlook Related Processes

If the above method doesn’t work, try to end all processes related to MS Outlook. Here’s how:

Inbox Repair Utility (ScanPST.exe)

If none of the above methods work, you might need to repair errors within the PST. For this, you can use Microsoft’s inbuilt inbox repair utility called ScanPST.exe. Here are the steps:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE12

However, if none of the above-mentioned techniques seems to work, you should try using third-party software Stellar Repair for Outlook to repair the corrupted PST and recover all data within it. This reliable software repairs corrupted PST and restore all contents into a new importable PST file.

Exit mobile version