Outlook - Inbox Repair Tool - Always Finding Errors - Is This A Bigger Issue?

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#1
Hi,


I regularly run Microsoft's Inbox Repair Tool (scanpst.exe) against my PST file(s).


It always seems to find and fix errors. I ran it today (about two months since the last run), and I have attached the log file for reference.


I have been doing this for years, and I never seem to have any actual problems with Outlook or my PST file - its just a scheduled task and preventative maintenance.


I also note that, if I run the scan against the same PST file twice, it often finds errors the second run (and even subsequent runs). I therefore, keep running it until it says it found no errors.


My question is: Does everyone find and fix these (presumably minor) errors all the time when running scanpst.exe, or is it just me? Is it indicative of something significantly wrong somewhere, or just part of life, run it, fix the errors, and move on.


I have over the years periodically created a brand new PST file, copied everything over, and kept the old one as a backup. I probably did this last when I went from Outlook 2003 to Outlook 2007 around two or three years ago, so its not like this is a single PST file that got corrupted years ago and has never 'recovered' fully from that. Also, I get it on all my PST files.


Just to be clear, I always backup my PST file before running the tool (it also asks if you want to backup before repairing, but I do my own backup prior anyway), and I have never had any obvious issues being caused by errors in the file, so this is just a matter of curiosity really.


I have various machines with various versions of windows including:


WinXPPro SP3 - Outlook 2007

Win7Ultimate - Outlook 2010


The PST files vary in size up to about 1.5GB but even the smaller ones (100MB or less) seem to get errors that are fixed.


I seem to get the same issue on both of those, and if I recall correctly, I have had this going way back (probably to Win2K - Outlook 2000 and possibly Win98SE - Outlook 97 even). No particular reason why I decided to ask this now, but things are quiet and I decided to see what others find!


Thanks,
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#2
I haven't used the scan PST tool in years, but back when I used to (out of necessity), it did always seem to find errors. But keep in mind this was probably over a decade ago!
I wouldn't be surprised if there were consistency errors as a matter of fact in normal usage of PST by design. From a programmer's perspective, it's very easy to see how consistency and integrity errors can creep into the PST structure with just normal usage without any unsafe termination or shutdown: it's a complicated file layout, with support for decades of file versions baked-in, and a virtual filesystem layer to boot. It has differential support, plugs in to the VSS subsystem, and carries out long-running, asynchronous IO operations in the background while foreground operations access it left and right.

There's a mantra in the development world: be conservative in what you send and liberal in what you accept. That can be applied here, too. A format like PST and a program like Outlook probably have multiple failure modes built in with layers of recovery and fallback options available. The PST tool could be classifying as "errors" things that are really just "not recommended behaviors" but are fully recoverable - leading one to question the meaning of error, anyway. If something isn't quite right but "all's well that ends well" is it wrong?

Anyway, good on you to be proactive with the health of your PST. It's horrible when those go belly-up, I remember fighting desperately to recover files from a trashed multi-gigabyte (4GiB? 6?) PST back in the day. Make sure you have backups :smile:
 
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