Have you ever encountered an error message when you’re just trying to check your email, add something to your calendar, or share files from Microsoft Outlook? If so, you can rest easy knowing that this is a very common issue. Outlook can become dysfunctional or “damaged” for a myriad of reasons. Fortunately, there are plenty of different ways to repair Outlook when it’s not working as it should.
So, what causes Outlook to become damaged? Does Microsoft offer a built-in Outlook repair tool? Are there specific repair methods to use on Windows 10 and 11? What can you do if your Outlook profile is corrupted? Finally, where can you get professional help with Outlook if you cannot solve the problem on your own?
In today’s guide, we will answer all of these questions and more, but first, let’s look at some of the most common reasons why Outlook suddenly stops working:
Common Reasons Why Outlook Is Not Working Properly
When you’re hit with an “Outlook data file corruption” message, you cannot open an Outlook data file, or you simply cannot access your Outlook profile, it can be extremely frustrating. This is especially true when it is not immediately clear what is causing the problem. While the exact issue can vary from one case to another, many Outlook users run into one or more of the following problems:
- Internet Connection Issues – Many Outlook users open emails or calendars from their web browser. If you’re experiencing a poor internet connection, it can interfere with your ability to use Outlook, even if you’ve set it to “offline” mode.
- Large Cache Stored On Your Device – Browsers don’t just store your browsing data and passwords. They can also store information related to your Outlook emails, calendars, and files. Over time, these caches can fill up and cause Outlook to perform poorly or not at all. Moreover, Outlook stores email caches that can hinder performance even further.
- Outlook Application Error – If you use the Outlook Desktop Application, there’s always a chance that the application is encountering an internal error. This can happen with virtually any app, and it is not always within your control to fix it. Sometimes, it may require a patch or update from Microsoft to resolve the issue.
- Corrupted Outlook Profile – If you get an “Outlook profile corrupted” message, it makes it much easier to diagnose the problem. Outlook profiles become corrupted if the PST (Personal Storage Table) gets damaged. A damaged Outlook data file can happen if you accidentally delete files or software needed to use your profile. It can also occur if your hardware or operating system is outdated or not functioning properly.
Keep in mind that these are not the only reasons that Outlook may stop working. While there are many issues that you can solve on your own, you may need a professional to troubleshoot the problem. If you encounter an issue that you can’t figure out, don’t be afraid to reach out to an IT expert for assistance.
Quick Methods to Repair Outlook
Now that you know some of the most common reasons for Outlook errors, it’s time to learn how to repair Outlook in a matter of minutes. Here are a few of the easiest methods for fixing Outlook when it’s broken:
Internet & Browser Reboot
Nobody with a technical issue wants to be told to turn their machine off and on again, but sometimes this is one of the best solutions. Internet connection issues frequently prevent users from accessing all of Outlook’s features. This can make it seem like Outlook is not working when, in fact, it is the internet connection that is causing your problems. So, before you start trying to download third-party Outlook PST repair tools, consider double-checking your internet connection. The fix could be as simple as restarting your router.
Alternatively, you could be having issues with the web browser you use. As previously mentioned, it is not uncommon for your cache to fill up, causing performance issues in Outlook. Remember that, in addition to browser caches, Outlook also stores its own email caches that may need to be cleared. Either way, you can do one or more of the following steps to fix cache-related issues:
- Restart your web browser
- Clear your browser’s cache and browsing data
- In Outlook 2016, Outlook 2019, Outlook 2021, or Outlook 365, delete your email caches in the RoamCache folder; you can access this folder by opening the Run dialog box and entering %localappdata%\Microsoft\Outlook
Outlook Profile Repair
If you’re using Outlook 2010, 2013, 2016, or 2021, you can use the built-in profile repair tool to fix corrupted files. This tool works well when Outlook cannot open OST files because they are damaged. Follow these steps to repair OST files in Outlook:
- Select File
- Go to Account Settings > Account Settings
- Select your profile under the Email tab
- Click on “Repair”
- Follow the prompts to repair your profile
- Restart Outlook
Microsoft 365 Repair Function
If you’re using Outlook as part of the Microsoft 365 suite, you can take advantage of the Microsoft 365 repair function. This is often the best fix if the Outlook application is experiencing internal issues. Since internal application errors are not always easy to diagnose, the Microsoft 365 repair function lets you do a quick repair to solve the problems without needing to uninstall and reinstall everything.
Follow these steps to initiate the repair in Windows 10 or Windows 11:
- Open Settings from the Start menu
- Select Apps & Features
- Open the Microsoft 365 application and go to Repair > Change
- Choose “Quick Repair”
Outlook PST Repair Tool
If you can’t open a file or a set of folders within Outlook, you can try the Outlook PST repair tool (often known as the Inbox Repair Tool). This tool essentially scans Outlook for any damaged or corrupted files and then lets you repair them. Keep in mind that using this method could end up erasing some files. Fortunately, the scan also creates a backup file that you can import back into Outlook once you’re finished (look for a file with the .bak extension after you’ve repaired any corrupted files).
You can follow these steps to start the repair:
- Close Outlook
- Navigate to the following directory location: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\root\Office16 (this location may look slightly different if you’re using an older version of Outlook)
- Open SCANPST.EXE
- Select Browse and choose an Outlook Data File (.pst) to scan
- Click on “Start”
- Choose “Repair” to fix any errors
- Restart Outlook
Outlook 365 Reinstallation
Sometimes, Outlook or Microsoft 365 have configuration issues that cannot be fixed without starting from scratch. In this case, you simply need to uninstall and reinstall Outlook 365. This is particularly helpful if you don’t want to spend time scanning for any corrupt files individually. Reinstalling Outlook will typically get rid of corrupted files, though you might lose your current settings in the process.
To initiate reinstallation in Windows 10 or 11, follow these steps:
- Close the Outlook 365 application
- Open “Run” and enter appwiz.cpl
- Select “Microsoft Office 365” in Programs and Features
- Click “Uninstall”
- Follow the prompts to uninstall Outlook 365
- Once the installation process is finished, restart your computer
- Navigate to the Microsoft website and download the latest version of Outlook 365
- Open Outlook 365 and log in
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