Outlook freezes / locks up / crashes after opening

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Last week we talked about what to do when Outlook won’t open, but what if it opens, then almost immediately locks up? If your Outlook says “not responding” when you try to open a piece of mail, it likely means you have a corrupt PST file. Luckily, Microsoft anticipated this happening, and has armed you with the tools to fix it!

Some quick background – a PST is your archive of mail – whether it’s something you archived off by choice, or it’s where your computer stores mail after it’s been downloaded from a mail server, such as Gmail, Hotmail, or a local ISP like Time Warner or Verizon. Any time you use “POP” mail with Outlook, you have a PST.

To fix a corrupt PST, you just need to locate an application that is installed along-side Microsoft Office called “ScanPST.” On a 64-bit Windows 8 computer running Microsoft Office 2010, I found the ScanPST application to be here:
C:Program FilesMicrosoft OfficeOffice14

Depending on your version of office, it might be under another Office “version number” but most versions of Office, even the older ones, will include ScanPST.

When you double click the file, it generally auto-detects the file you need to scan, but you may need to browse to your data file before you click on Start. By default, Windows 7 & 8 should store the PST’s in this location:
C:UsersUSERNAMEAppDataLocalMicrosoftOutlookOutlook.pst

In Windows XP: C:Documents and SettingsUSERNAMELocal SettingsApplication DataMicrosoftOutlookOutlook.pst

If you are in a corporate environment, the location may be different.

Once you have the proper file in place, click on “Start” in ScanPST. By default, you should allow it to make a backup, then let it run through it’s 8 phase repair process. As always, depending on the size of your PST (how much mail you have), and the speed of your computer, it can take a while. Even when it looks like it isn’t doing anything, it probably is, so just let it go for a little while. When it’s finished, you should be able to open up Outlook without any issues!

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