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There is nothing more frustrating than… Your email not working right.

Seriously, there’s a lot of things more irritating than your e-mail not working right: your home computer not booting period, an unexpected computer shut-down that blows out your last hour or three of coding, the girlfriend deciding you must go walk your dog while you are in the midst of an intricate programming shindig (or sleeping)… Yeah, there is a thing or two slightly more irritating than an ill-behaved email…

However, that is what welcomed me when I woke up this am all geared up to go down to brass tacks and my week kick off at 4 am today. Actually what REALLY greeted me was a black screen saying that I needed to point the computer to a boot drive since it apparently had decided to arbitrarily reboot overnight – never a great sign. That is sort of a scary message under any circumstances, however, this specific machine has an annoying habit of doing that every so often and occasionally deciding that a thumb drive is NOT the system drive and then NOT finding the hard drive. Go figure.

As an aside, while the average individual could think that each and every computer geek’s computer runs like a top – think again. Most of the computers who I have used in the past and even now, have some type of problem that I work around. The boot drive issue happens to be one I could live with. Annoying, but tolerable. Okay, so back to point.

So right after I got over the little boot problem, I went to fire up my Outlook 2007. And things did not quite go as planned. The rules that filter all my email couldn’t run because they couldn’t find the right folders to filter to. Joy. When you have any kind of email traffic, it’s easier if you make Outlook rules to sort it when it comes in. If they do not work right though, as in this situation, it could be a problem. Let’s do a reboot to see if that might help. Not.

How about a Restore?

So, I clicked on one of the things to determine if there is some kind of issue with the e-mail itself and err… Outlook couldn’t display the email. Time to perform a quick restore. No biggie.

Well, it shouldn’t have been. Because, God forbid, the pc could not restore because it couldn’t rebuild some of the Internet Explorer temp files. There’s a feel good thing – all types of system files, dll’s, drivers causing problems and all that that need to be replaced – and apparently that’s NOT a problem, but why don’t we nix the whole process because Restore cannot handle some idiotic jpg file ?  Microsoft, you might only want a sanity check in there somewhere.

Okay, how about ScanPST.exe?

Okay, so back to ye olde drawing board. Probably should have tried this one first, scanpst.exe. A great little utility for solving problems in the PST file – that is the large fat file that actually stores that email from Aunt Meg with her cat photos – as well as dozens of Power-point presentations that you used for your largest customer, the annoying e-mails from SEO companies in broken English that proclaim that we TOO may be at the top of each search term in Google for just $99 PER MONTH – WHAT a deal – Thank you for immedeate considerate dear sir. Yeah, what a deal.

Regardless, I need my email, so let us do the scanpst thingy. It is generally located in your C:Program FilesMicrosoft OfficeOfficeXX folder. Doubleclick it.

Running ScanPST.exe

It will ask you where the file is the fact that you need to check for errors. You’ll find this in a normally hidden folder. In Windows 7, you’ll want to go to within the navigation bar (or you can do this within the control panel too under “Folders”) “Tools” => “Folder Options” => Visit the “View” tab and click “Show hidden files, folders and drives”. And then, you ought to have the ability to get into the all important AppData folder.

Find your PST data file

Drilldown into that AppData folder a bit like this – C:UsersYOURUSERNAMEAppDataLocalMicrosoftOutlook and then point scanpst.exe to the Outlook.pst file. And let it fly. You might obtain a message or two, but it’s pretty much a self-contained app with not much interaction. It is going to probably tell you that it found problems and would you want to fix them? Tell it yes and let it fly. And let it make a back-up. Always do a backup – just in case.

Whole procedure should not take more than 15-minutes or so when using the scanpst.exe. My outlook.pst is correct at 2 GB so, that would probably be a worst case scenario…

Oh yeah – so did it work?  You betcha.