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Data Recovery: Undelete a Deleted Outlook PST E-Mail File

Deleted pst File Recovery – Why using undelete or any other type of standard data recovery software will not recover pst files.
Outlook PST files are almost always in use. Data is received from your e-mail server and saved to the PST file. At the same time, you may be performing various tasks: writing a document, editing a spread sheet, saving pictures or music, generally going about your digital life. While you are saving data to your hard drive, your PST is also writing to the disk as it receives mail. Generally, your PST file is one of the larger files on your system.

So, why is it usually impossible to recover deleted PST files in full after a deletion or a soft system crash? Its because your PST file is usually the most fragmented file on your system.

When a user deletes a file, that portion of the drive is then marked as free usable space. As we go about our digital lives, we save and delete many files. Programs are also installed and uninstalled. This is how file fragmentation occurs. Fragmentation means that the files are not contiguous. In a perfect situation all files would be written contiguously. An example of a non-fragmented file would be a doc file 24kb in size that NTFS writes at cluster 100 through 105 with a 4k cluster size.

Windows doesn’t always write to contiguous clusters and will usual write data arbitrarily to the first available space on the drive. A set up for fragmentation. Using the example above, the file would be fragmented if you had previously deleted a file 12kb in size from that space and Windows used that area and then wrote the remaining 12kb somewhere else on the drive. (It is unlikely a file this small would be fragmented and was used just as an example).

As the file size increases, the problem grows. PST files are usually hundreds of megabytes or even gigabytes in size. A PST file may actually be fragmented with remnants residing on hundreds or even thousands of fragmented clusters. Without a MFT (Master File Table) entry to reference, it is nearly impossible to recover with conventional software. If you are able to recover a portion of a deleted pst file, you can run Outlook’s Inbox repair tool, Scanpst.exe.

Scanpst’s default location within Office 2003 is “C:Program FilesCommon FilesSystemMSMAPI1033SCANPST.EXE”.

Scanpst will do a pretty fair job of making a usable PST file out of a portion of the complete file.

If you have lost a Personal Storage File we have developed techniques which are proprietary with respect to the PST on disk structure. These techniques help us in our recovery and rebuilding of PST files. We can also utilize our technical staff and their ability to use a HEX editor to recover as much data as possible.

 

6 Responses to “Data Recovery: Undelete a Deleted Outlook PST E-Mail File”

  1. Kevin June 10, 2008 3:38 am #

    I had this problem and after several attempts with various undelete applications I was unable to recover the whole of the PST file. I also had to repair the partially recovered PST with ScanPst to be able to open it.

    OutlookFIX is the application which best recovered the data. The demo will let you see what can be recovered, but you will have to purchase a license activation code to actually recover the data. Even so, this is not 100% effective…

  2. Khurram Nadeem February 19, 2009 3:46 am #

    I have deleted by mistake my MS Outlook 2003 .pst file,,,,,,,,,it was almost 4 Gb in size………………i searched for it but couldnot find it even in hidden files also………I also did System recovery but in vain…………….Can you please tell me if you software can undelete my deleted .pst file.

    Thanks

  3. vamsi June 9, 2009 7:20 am #

    I have deleted by mistake my MS Outlook 2003 .pst file,,,,,,,,,it was almost 4 Gb in size………………i searched for it but couldnot find it even in hidden files also………I also did System recovery but in vain…………….Can you please tell me if you software can undelete my deleted .pst file.

  4. Leslie July 26, 2009 4:44 pm #

    I have a hard drive which I re-formatted and reloaded Windows XP. I thought that I was backing up my .pst personal folders but only the archive folders were checked so I lost my data in my personal folders. I have tried Easeus Data Recovery software and it was able to find some of it but not all. Is your software any better or do you have any other suggestions? The hard drive was not used or re-written in any way since the re-format, it has been sitting on my desk. Once I realized the mistake, I purchased a brand new drive and started fresh.

  5. GUILLERMO April 6, 2011 5:49 pm #

    I lost an over 7 GB PST file due an outlook 2007 hanging under XP. I have being seraching the file for while with differente tools without results. Is your software able to find it? Please respond.

    • Jacqui Best April 27, 2011 3:54 pm #

      Guillermo,

      What do you mean by “lost” did the file get deleted?

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