Many problems with Microsoft Outlook and the offline folder files or OST files occur due to hardware problems such as hard disk failure or power outages causing corruption in the file. There are times though when improper usage of the application causes corruption and one needs to verify the integrity of the data. We look at the steps we need to take when Microsoft Outlook shuts down incorrectly.
In Outlook versions before 2003 such as Outlook 2002 or 2000, the offline folder feature or OST file allowed the user to keep a copy of the contents stored in the Exchange Server mailbox, in the local hard drive. This enabled access to folders even when the network was down, was slow or if the user was unable to connect to the server. This feature was made even more valuable by the fact that one could regularly synchronize the contents in the two folders. The utility of this feature is obvious when one has to work at home where a connection to the office network is not available or when one is on the move. Of course, one has to be particularly careful while deleting folders either on the Exchange server or from the OST files since that will end up deleting the folder from both the local computer and the server. In fact, OST files can also be used very effectively in carrying out an Exchange recovery by simply converting OST to PST and then copying the data into the Server mailbox.
With OST files storing all the important data such as mail messages, appointments and meeting requests, contacts, tasks and updates, notes, etc., it is essential that one protect the integrity of this file. Many factors can lead to corruption or damage to the file. These would include hardware problems such as hard disk failures or sudden power surges as well as software problems such as virus attacks. Many times though improper use of Outlook also causes corruption in the OST file. For example, if Microsoft Outlook is not shut down correctly, there may be concern over the integrity of the data.
If you suspect that there is some corruption in the file, you should first convert OST to PST by copying all the data from the OST file into a personal folders file. Next, you can allow Outlook to perform a reconciliation of the data file. Typically, this is just a clean up process that allows Outlook to resolve the errors that may have generated in the file due to improper shutdown. The advantage is you can continue to use Outlook even while the verification process is on. Once the process is done, you can continue using the OST file. In fact, if you shut down Outlook during the verification process, the process is left incomplete and verification will restart the next time you start Outlook.
If you have allowed the verification process to be completed and find that there are still too many error messages that keep popping up, it is quite likely that there is more serious corruption in the OST file. The only way to repair a seriously damaged OST file might be to use tools developed for this purpose such as DataNumen Exchange Recovery from DataNumen. This software can handle seriously damaged OST files quite easily and is in fact, reputed to have a high recovery rate. It can convert OST to PST by saving all the data restored, in a personal folders file or PST so that Outlook can then access all the data easily.