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Outlook.pst is in Use and Cannot be Accessed – Handy Techniques

Published By Ashwani Tiwari
Tej Pratap Shukla
Approved By Tej Pratap Shukla
Published On June 2nd, 2023
Reading Time 7 Minutes Reading

If you are encountering the Outlook.pst is in Use and Cannot be Accessed error then, there is a chance that your PST file may be corrupted. Now, if you are facing this error message in your Outlook account then, you are on the right page.

Here in this blog post, we are going to discuss all the details about the error and how to resolve this mind-scratching Outlook issue.

Brief of Outlook PST

Outlook stores the data of your mailbox in two types of file formats: PST and OST. When you configure a POP account in Microsoft Outlook, it creates a PST file by default. This file is stored at a hidden location which can be customized by you.

Outlook synchronizes all its database including emails, contacts, calendars, tasks, notes, etc. and stores it in PST file format.

You know Outlook can also be used to access the data that has been stored in backup PST Files. However, sometimes, this PST file becomes inaccessible and shows the cannot be accessed error.

Find out the reasons for this error in the next section.

Causes for Outlook.pst is in Use and Cannot be Accessed Error

In some cases, it may appear to you that the PST file is running on another application. If you close all the applications or restart your computer, it may not solve the issue. You may not know but there are a few more reasons for seeing this error such as:

  1. The most common reason is the PST file being oversize, disk errors, or sudden crashing of the system or Outlook.
  2. Sometimes, when Outlook is terminated improperly, outlook.exe may still be running in the background.
  3. Another reason being conflict with faulty add-ins or the software.
  4. Files without header being deleted by anti-virus or anti-spyware programs.
  5. If your backup PST file is running in the background, it will corrupt the file causing the Outlook.pst is in Use and Cannot be Accessed Error.

What are the Signs of Corruption in .pst File?

The signs of corruption in a PST file include:

  1. Application closing without warning or sudden crash
  2. Outlook being hanged frequently
  3. Simple actions like creating a new email take longer than usual and is slow
  4. Not able to launch Outlook, shows failure

These are some of the indications that tell PST file is corrupted. Since there are a lot of grounds on which your file can be corrupted, you still have control over it.

But, this issue still needs to be solved as quickly as possible. Read further to know how you can do so without wasting much time.

Quickly Recover Corrupted Outlook Supported File Format (PST)

The corruption in PST file shows Outlook.pst is in Use and Cannot be Accessed error. The most common reason for this issue is the oversized PST file and due to the integrity issue, corruption is cause. This can be resolved using the solution that we have here.

Here, you will find that the Outlook PST Repair Software will help you to recover crashed or corrupted Outlook PST files.

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Repair multiple PST files in one shot from all the items in Outlook such as emails, calendars, contacts, etc.

If your files have an encryption code and you want to repair them, this tool will decrypt and remove OpenPGP and SMIME encryption and repair them. Software supports repairing the files in Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, and 2003.

The wizard has a lot more to it that can provide a good amount of benefits to you. Checkout what it offers and how it works only in a few clicks in the video given in the next section.

Workarounds to Fix Outlook.pst is in Use and Cannot be Accessed Error

There are three solutions that are known to resolve the error. Following are the steps for each:

Technique 1 – Exit All Programs

Find all the programs having access to PST and close them as these are preventing Outlook from accessing these files. To solve the error, follow the steps as mentioned:

Step 1 – To close the programs, you have to first right-click on the Task bar or press Ctrl + Shift + ESC simultaneously.

Step 2 – A menu will open up from which you have to select the “Task Manager” option.


Step 3 – Choose the option “More Details” and move to the “Processes” tab.

Step 4 – Look for any processes named Outlook, Communicator, Lync, UCMAPI, and end them.

Step 5 – Click on the process and hit “End Task” to end the processes.

Step 6 – Close Task Manager and restart Outlook.

If this doesn’t help you solve the Outlook.pst is in Use and Cannot be Accessed error, move to the next solution.

Technique 2 – Opening Microsoft Outlook in Safe Mode

To check if the error is caused due to any faulty add-ins, you need to open Outlook in safe mode. If it opens up without any troubles, you need to uninstall the third-party add-in which is causing the error. Below discussed are the steps that you will have to perform:

Step 1. Exit Outlook and press the Windows – R keys together.
Step 2. In the blank field, enter outlook.exe/safe and hit “Enter”.


Step 3. Choose the option “File” and from there, click on the “Options” button.
Step 4. Then, go to the “Add-ins” and disable them all.
Step 5. Launch Outlook again and enable each add-in one after one to spot which is the faulty one.

If your error is still not solved, you can use the following method.

Technique 3 – Using the Inbox Repair Tool

Another reason Outlook.pst is in Use and Cannot be Accessed error is corruption in PST file. If neither of the solutions mentioned above is working, it is an issue with the PST file.

Microsoft Outlook has a utility that is located in the installation directory of MS Office. This utility is the Inbox Repair Tool which will help you to repair the error by extracting corruption from PST. Check out the working of this tool:

Step I – Close Microsoft Outlook and go to the installation directory of MS Office.

Step II – Find the ScanPST.exe tool and run it.


Step III – Select the “Browse” button and choose the PST file you want to repair.

Step IV – Hit “Start” to scan the PST file.

Step V – If the utility finds errors, it will show a “Display” button.

Step VI – Click the “Display” button and wait till the file is being repaired.

Note: The tool may show “Inbox Repair Tool Not Responding” message, do not exit as it works like this. However, if this message is not exiting this message, or crashes, it means that the file cannot be repaired. This tool may fail as it doesn’t support encrypted files or file size more than 2GB. In such a case, you may want to use the third-party software with no such issues as mentioned above.

This Would be All

There are various reasons for Outlook.pst is in use and cannot be accessed error. The signs of corruption in the PST file are pretty straightforward. Pay attention to such signs. Get over the corruption issue in the PST file with no size restrictions using the software making it an easy task.


By Ashwani Tiwari

I am an Expert Technical Analyst, specialized in assisting users with complex technological challenges. Through my blogs and articles, I offer expert guidance to help tackle these technical issues effectively. My true passion lies in providing valuable insights and simplifying complicated technicalities, enhancing user understanding and confidence.