Problem Statement

While user tries to access their Outlook profile, a very common error occurs, i.e. Outlook PST in Use and Cannot be Accessed. It stops the functioning of Outlook and hang up the application. The following error message is displayed:

“C:\Users\user name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\user name\username.pst is in use and cannot be accessed. Close any application using this file, and try again”.

Causes Related to Error

  1. Corrupted Outlook PST File: The main reason for inexplicable behavior of Outlook is that PST files have been corrupted/damaged that may lead to this error.
  2. Abnormal Shutting Down of PC: Accidentally, if the system is shut down due to no power backup within PCs or any other reason, then it may lead the Outlook application to its freeze state.

Troubleshoot the Error:

Sometimes, end-user restarts their systems to troubleshoot this problem. It may help resolve the error or it may not. Not all users can restart their system since they may be performing some other important tasks on the system.

To get rid of this problem, end user should go for below-mentioned two measures:

Measure 1: Using Manual Measure

One way is to go for one of the three following technique that can be performed on your PCs itself:

Technique 1: Terminating Cached Exchange Mode
  1. If Outlook application is running, then close it.
  2. Go to Control Panel, click on Mail
  3. Select Email Accounts >> Email.
  4. Highlight mail address, which is in .pst extension and not working on Outlook, then click on Change button.
  5. From the box appearing in front of you, uncheck the Use Cached Exchange Mode and then click on Next >> Finish.
  6. Now restart the Outlook application.
Technique 2: Terminating Processes Related to Outlook’s
  1. Right-click on task bar and click on Task Management
  2. From the task management window, click on Processes tab
  3. Find the processes related to Outlook like Lync, unmapi, Outlook, etc. Select them and quit it.
  4. At the end, Open Outlook on your PC.
Technique 3: Repairing PST File using scanpst.exe Tool
  1. Go to Program files>>Microsoft Office>> Office14
  2. Search for SCANPST, right click on it, and Run as administrator.
  3. A message box will display on your screen, Click YES.
  4. Click on Browse, select the corrupted PST file and then click on START.
  5. After that, internal processes take place that includes scanning of the file in 8 phases.
  6. After scanning of the selected PST file, a dialog box will appear which notifies whether any corrupted files exist or not. If not, then click on CANCEL.
  7. Fix broken PST files by first backing up the scanned file before repair and deciding the path where the backup is to be stored which will be with the extension of .bak.
  8. Click on Repair option to fix broken PST file and once it is finished with the repair option it displays a message box reporting that the file has been repaired, click OK.

Watch step by step instructions to Run Inbox Repair Tool

Limitations of Manual Procedure

The procedure cannot be applied if the files are majorly corrupted. If something went wrong during the procedure, then it may affect functioning of other applications of the machine.

Measure 2: Using Additional Software

Another method is by using third party tools, which are being initiated for repairing and recovering data from corrupted or damaged PST files. One such tool is an Outlook recovery that is being developed to repair major as well as minor damaged Outlook PST file. It extracts the data from corrupted file and archive them into the desired file format like PST, MSG, and EML. Moreover, it has many attractive features embedded into it and can easily be accessed by users.


Although, we have a manual procedure for handling this problem, but as discussed above it has some limitations. Therefore, it is reliable to go for Outlook recovery tool, which can easily be accessed by any users and helps in resolving any issue related to Outlook without any limitations.


About Author

Diptesh Kumar Bhakat is proud to be the author of fastest growing tech blogs. He is a tech savvy. Mr. Diptesh is currently pursuing his B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering. He has a very close attachment with the tech world and loves to blog on his fav topics. He has also contributed to many regional dailies and authored guest posts on some of the leading tech blogs. You can reach him through Facebook, twitter, Google+ and linked-in.

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