Steps to deal with the ‘.pst file is not compatible’ error in Outlook

This error occurs when users try to open a PST file created in Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007 in earlier versions of Outlook. This causes a compatibility issue which causes a lot of inconvenience by making the file inaccessible.

When users try to open a .pst file, which contains content created using Microsoft Outlook 2003 or Microsoft 2007, in an earlier version of Outlook, the following error message appears : “The file file_name.pst is not compatible with this version of the Personal Folders information service.

Contact your Administrator.” This means that the .pst file cannot be opened with that version of Outlook, making the information stored inside, inaccessible to users, prompting them for PST recovery. The situation poses a threat of potential data loss, which can have adverse affects on a company’s operations. This is because Microsoft Outlook is used by millions of enterprise users for managing their email accounts. A .pst file is used to store all the information pertaining to the emails, notes, calender, tasks and several specific user configuration. The PST file format is widely used for its smooth portability functions. The files allow users to transfer or back-up their Outlook data from one PC to another. The main reason behind the ‘file not compatible’ error is that PST files, which are exported from Outlook 2003 or Outlook 2007 using the Import and Export Wizard, are formatted using the Unicode format. This format is not supported by early versions of Outlook, which only use the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) format. For PST recovery, users will have to copy the information stored in the Unicode formatted PST file to a new PST file that has not been converted to the Unicode format. In order to do this, users will have to use a PST file from an earlier version of Outlook. First, users would have to open Outlook, then access the ‘File’ menu option. From there, open the ‘Data File Management’ tab and click on ‘Add’. When a new dialogue box opens, select the ‘Outlook 97-2002 Personal Folders File (PST)’ type and click on ‘OK’. When the default name for the file appears, click on ‘OK’ and again click on ‘OK’ to create a new PST file which is based on the ANSI format found on PST files which are created with early versions of Outlook. When the file is created, click on ‘Close’. Next, users can view the newly created PST file by clicking on ‘Folder List’ tab found at the bottom of the navigation page. Once the new file is opened, users can drag the information stored on the Outlook 2003 or Outlook 2007 PST file and drop it on the newly created file. Please note that users can also transfer the information to the new PST by using the Import and Export Wizard, which can be accessed from the ‘File’ menu. Users would have to remember that email messages and other information, which is formatted in the Unicode format, which not be copied to the new PST file. Users can also perform PST recovery actions using the DataNumen Outlook Repair third party recovery tool offered by DataNumen. The tool is designed to recover data from damaged or corrupt PST files and fixes them if necessary.

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