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Is there any way to “restore” a .pst (Outlook Personal Folder) or .ost (Offline Folder file)?

Here's the situation...

We outsource our Exchange hosting to a 3rd party company. We had a user leave last week and the email provider was supposed to export her mailbox to a .pst for our Help Desk (where I work). I pulled .pst file from them today and it was only 265 KB! You have to be kidding me...

I have a full system backup of this users computer from less than a week ago and their .ost file is 445 MB so I know the user had email. The email provider has already removed her mailbox. I've contacted them about the problem and am waiting to hear back.

My question for everyone is, how do I go about extracting email from an .ost file or is it possible to "convert" it to a .pst file? Can anyone see any other options?

EDIT: This is for Outlook 2003 and Exchange 2007.

  • Sorry to say that it's a dupe, even though I didn't really get a solution on my version, so I feel your pain! – Ivo Flipse Dec 21 '09 at 20:48

If you have a backup of the machine, you can fire up outlook with the 445MB OST in place and remove the network cable. Outlook will start in "disconnected mode" if you are lucky, and you should have access to the entire OST. You can then create a new PST, and copy everything in using the traditional drag and drop Outlook GUI.

Best of luck, this is not an easy situation.

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  • I can restore the image and do as what's described in the post. Thanks for the idea. – rodey Dec 21 '09 at 21:07
  • Can't you just do a File > Export instead of drag and drop? I've never tried with disconnected mode, but I've performed exports of my inbox which is an OST. The export is PST. Seems a lot faster, easier, and complete to do a File > Export > PST because the GUI often misses a lot of Outlook items especially non-email Outlook items. – Sun May 15 '16 at 16:38

I don't know for a fact if this will work, but this is what I would try ...

  • Create a new .pst folder on a machine where you can access the pst email account, once your provider makes it accessible to you.
  • Drag a drop all the mail from the ost mail to the pst folder

and you could be done.

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  • Yes, but how do you access the email that is in the .ost file? – rodey Dec 21 '09 at 20:50
  • Is it more difficult that logging in to the ex-user mail account? - and if it is de-activated, then having it re-activated by your service provider? Or at least starting from the backup that you have? – Kije Dec 21 '09 at 20:57

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