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  1. #1
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    PST Files: Unable to Extract Mail (Office 2000)

    I have about 30 Outlook PST files archived. They've all been created in Office 2000 over the past few years on various machines under various operating systems Win 95, NT4 and Windows 2000.

    As I moved from one machines to another over time I'd save the PST files into a collection. I now want to consolidate the old mail but I've hit some obstacles, the first being the huge number of duplicates from earlier attempts to consolidate them--and I like some advice about this--but I'll leave it for a separate post, the second is a much more significant problem.

    That being when I open some--not all--of these PST files from the File/Open/Personal Folders File (.pst) menu they load ok and their folders show but there is--or appears to be--no contents in any of them. The message pane says "There are no items to show in this view" but the file can be quite large, even after the 'Compact Now' facility has been run. This made me suspect that they were not empty as Outlook said.

    If I view these files with a hex editor etc. it's blatantly clear that there are emails inside as I can recognize some of my email headers.

    I assume this has something to do with the login user (which would have been different at various times on different machines). As my OS, Windows 2000, is now indicating to Outlook that I'm a different user to the one that created the PST file, that Outlook is not permitting me to view them (notwithstanding the fact that no password was set on these files and in most cases the default file encryption was also turned off).

    Most of the files were generated in conjunction with an exchange server, others would have been backups made from with the operating system and NOT from with Outlook. Also, I recall that when I had Exchange running I had the mail delivered from the server to the local machine).


    Questions:

    How do I extract the data from these files?

    Is there a published specification/structure for PST files?

    What is the logic behind the mail not being available in this situation (the file is neither password protected nor encrypted)?


    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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    Re: PST Files: Unable to Extract Mail (Office 2000)

    <hr>The message pane says "There are no items to show in this view" <hr>
    The first thing I would check is if you have any filters in place.
    View > Current View >

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    Re: PST Files: Unable to Extract Mail (Office 2000)

    No, and I've just checked, filter is off. I wouldn't expect any filtering either as Outlook is a 'new' install (Office with sp1) specifically installed for this clean up.

    Office 2K usually lives on the machine but I reinstalled it from scratch to put Outlook on as the previous installation didn't include Outlook.

    (I normally don't use Outlook unless I have to--when working in corporate environments etc.--on my personal machine my default mailer is Eudora. The purpose of this exercise is to consolidate the old PST emails and convert the relevant stuff to MBX files.)

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    Re: PST Files: Unable to Extract Mail (Office 2000)

    You might try running scanpst on one of the files that don't work. (After making a backup.) The utility should be on your system, but you might have to run Find to locate it.

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    Re: PST Files: Unable to Extract Mail (Office 2000)

    Duplicates: add the modified date to the view and sort by it. Hopefully all the dups will have the same modified date and you can mass delete them.

    If you r-click on the folder name and choose properties > folder size, what does it say for folder sizes?

    Logons shouldn't affect the data in the pst - only the actual access to the pst.

    There is no published specs on the psts -
    You can try some of the extraction utilities at slipstick.com, look for house keeping utilities.

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    Re: PST Files: Unable to Extract Mail (Office 2000)

    Hopefully all the dups will have the same modified date and you can mass delete them.

    Unfortunately this is not the case as mail would automatically be forwarded through about three or four workstations and the relay would depend on which station I was at and when. For example mail would be forwarded to my home if I'd not have finished with it and vice versa, so dates, whilst a good guide, are not the total answer. In each location mail would collect and later be consolidated into one archive file of mammoth proportions. This problem is not uncommon. The main problem is deleting the duplicates from a typical file (PST is say over 1.5GB) with the relevant data (i.e. one only of each) amounts to less than 300 MB. Manually deleting them by editing out when the duplicates can be between 0 and about 10 copies is a pain and takes many hours. The fact that the program has no heuristic email duplicate finder to find clones including forwards, cc, bcc and copies to oneself, copies with minor and major time differences and backups is an utter disgrace and it no wonder why Microsoft comes in for such criticism when its shoddy proprietary code can't be maintained.

    If you r-click on the folder name and choose properties > folder size, what does it say for folder sizes?

    The biggest one says 286763K it's a compete disk worth of data but there are smaller files down to several MB in size.

    Logons shouldn't affect the data in the pst - only the actual access to the pst.

    That's what I don't understand, reasonably large files (say up to 5MB) can show nothing in the folders and yet they are not passworded nor encrypted, but just compacted (but not reused since the compacting)show data when viewed a hex editor--I can read my own emails this way but Outlook is useless at seeing them. Perhaps others should check to see if their 'empty' PSTs are actually so.


    There is no published specs on the psts

    I come from an environment where every second word was ANSI, ISO or IEC. I've already said it. It's unacceptable to have one's data held to such ransom. As bad as Eudora is at least one's mbx files are in plain text. That's where I want all my PST files when I'm finished.

    You can try some of the extraction utilities at slipstick.com, look for house keeping utilities. Duplicates: add the modified date to the view and sort by it. Hopefully all the dups will have the same modified date and you can mass delete them.

    I've been there and time might force me to run with them. It appears they've reverse engineered the PSTs or paid Microsoft dearly for the privilege for something that should have come with the package in the first place.

    Thanks for taking the time to reply.

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    Re: PST Files: Unable to Extract Mail (Office 2000)

    I've done that already and I found two smallish files that were repaired but these weren't the ones to which I'm referring.

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    Re: PST Files: Unable to Extract Mail (Office 2000)

    <hr>Unfortunately this is not the case as mail would automatically be forwarded through about three or four workstations and the relay would depend on which station I was at and when. <hr>
    please don't say your company uses exchange server and you were doing this.

    if not, and if this is typical behavior, then exchange server (or imap ) would save tons of hassles. either would have allowed you to access mail on one central server and eliminated duplicates before they ever were created.

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    Re: PST Files: Unable to Extract Mail (Office 2000)

    My word it does and there's about 4000 of us at it too.

    It happens whenever people are on the road and also work from home. You must realize that any organization where some of the mail is 'owned' by the staff and is not considered corporate property then this has to happen. (There is an Exchange server too but most people don't want their personal and laptop mail stored on it. Oh, and very few of them use IMAP accounts on their home PCs.)

    For example, I receive say 20-40 emails at home at my personal email address every day, some personal, some work-related, and I process only a few (or perhaps none one evening) then I'll forward all of them to my work email address. During the day a similar number of work-related emails also arrive. That afternoon I have to take a flight that'll keep me out of the office for a few days, but seeing I'm running late the mail I redirected from home doesn't get processed nor does most of the mail that arrived in the office that morning. I redirect all of them (both work and home mail) to my work's CompuServe account, grab the portable and collect the mail from the hotel several thousand miles away.

    In the meantime, both my home and work accounts are redirecting mail to the mobile CompuServe account through "Out of the Office Auto reply". Whilst away, I only attend to urgent emails (home and work), these are replied to and together with cc-ed or bcc-ed copies are forwarded to both work and home TOGETHER with forward-copies of original incoming email, which in turn are cc-ed or bcc-ed to both work and home addresses respectively at a later time (in case some mail has been lost).

    When back in the office and at home most important mail (but not all) is processed as some mail is hard to distinguish from the junk and spam. Then a compilation including junk mail put on CDR a for later sorting. These CDRs will move with me from one location to the other, six month I may accumulate perhaps 20 or so. In the meantime, the work server is collecting more mail, which I then back up, again onto CDR for easy access whilst I'm out of the office. I also forward the mail to my workshop in a nearby building that has another email address altogether. As I spend about 50% of work time in the workshop location for days at a time then all the mail has to accessible there too (everything is repeated here-- perhaps continued is a better word).

    Six months later (in this case 15 months) I'm trying to correlate all the mail for a particular activity to obtain a contiguous block file for auditing purposes. By this time the laws of exponentiation, compounded by PST file bloat, and I have accumulated many gigabytes of data to sort.

    This sounds rather messy and it is. But it wouldn't be if there was one simple command in Outlook which did the following: "Of all the mail in these files keep only one copy of each mail item but attach a list of all its distribution copies (cc, bcc, forwards backups). This would simply be called 'archive mail'.

    If you don't work like this you're very lucky indeed. Welcome to the real world! Great shame Microsoft hasn't the foresight to think of something would actually improve the product in my work environment rather than reduce it.

    Finally, I was talking to the IT manager at another organization several weeks ago only to find that I'm not alone. In fact he's got a similar situation but in some ways it's more complicated than mine as he has to manage Lotus Notes in some locations and Exchange in others but much of the other practices are very similar.

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    Re: PST Files: Unable to Extract Mail (Office 2000)

    <hr>If you don't work like this you're very lucky indeed. Welcome to the real world! Great shame Microsoft hasn't the foresight to think of something would actually improve the product in my work environment rather than reduce it.<hr>
    If I sound a little harsh in my comments below, I apologize - this is not personal criticism. I'm not concerned with the technical aspects of your problem, but more on the strategic thinking behind it, or lack thereof. What I'm understanding you to be describing is a common practice in your organization where people are forwarding copies of their mail to and from Exchange and different personal mailboxes multiple times, and then wondering why the data files get bloated, corrupted and the like, and blame Microsoft for not forseeing people using e-mail in this manner. It's like walking up to a photocopier and zipping off 10 copies of a document, mailing those 10 copies to 10 different locations, and then wondering why you can't put all the paper copies in one neat little manilla file folder in the upper left cabinet.
    <hr>This sounds rather messy and it is.<hr>
    You hit the nail on head right there. Perhaps it's time to think critically about how to most effectively use e-mail. How about remote access? As long as you have the ability to get online, whether you're at another office location, the workshop, the hotel room, or home, you can get to your e-mail and the rest of your office data. With 4000 users, you've got to have the economic scale to support VPN. Or how about something like <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.gotomypc.com>GoToMyPC</A> on an outsourced model?

    If archiving e-mail is important for auditing purposes, Outlook really isn't designed for this. Document or knowledge management solutions, whether on an organization-wide or individual basis, are designed specifically to archive and preserve the "paper" trail.

    My point is that there are better ways to meet your goals. Outlook, and more specifically the way in which you're using it, is a square peg for a round hole, and you're not going to get anywhere by blaming Microsoft for not doing your thinking for you.

  11. #11
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    Re: PST Files: Unable to Extract Mail (Office 2000)

    Keely, I find myself agreeing with you. If I could change things easily then I would, but in practice, it's generally quite a struggle. Nevertheless, you'd be surprised how many organizations aren't that much different to the one I've have portrayed.

    The people that frequent this board are probably better organized than many of those who don't. However, it always amazes me how bad some the proponents of IT technology are when it comes to housekeeping. IT people are often of a breed that says 'do as I say and not as I do', and I don't exclude myself from this on occasions.

    To your points: "How about remote access?"

    No! They don't care about the email shambles (the lovebug virus got through without effort) but the firewall is so tight that NeoTrace Pro can't even find the site!

    VPN--there is one but security strictures preclude its use in conjunction with ordinary emails so it tends to be bypassed for most business.

    "Or how about something like GoToMyPC on an outsourced model
    data."

    Security issues again would preclude this approach. (I'm not offering excuses here, the fact is it's difficult. Messages between me and head email guy have included phrases where I accuse him of having an IQ lower than his mail server. The only thing that this achieved was to make me feel better.)

    Your comments about my use of Outlook I agree with. But what is the alternative if Exchange and Outlook are the basis of the corporate mail system? I don't use Outlook unless I'm on corporate machines, I use Eudora but this also has limitations. Any suggestions for a better package would be welcome but before you offer here's the recent list that aren't totally satisfactory: Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, Pegasus, The Bat, VMail, MailNavigator and of course most of the integrated packages.

    "

  12. #12
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    Re: PST Files: Unable to Extract Mail (Office 2000)

    <hr>No! They don't care about the email shambles (the lovebug virus got through without effort) but the firewall is so tight that NeoTrace Pro can't even find the site!<hr>

    this tells me that the IT/Security departments are in shambles and the firewall is not as tight as you think.
    Users should only be permitted to access work mail from work and the servers should be running AV software and blocking certain attachment types attachments. (we only allow users to get text, excel, access and word docs, plus zips and ones with invalid or unknown extensions. And that's still too many file types. <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>)

    A favorite saying among good exchange adimns is "There are seldom good technological solutions to behavioral problems." That applies here - users need to learn good practices - and practice them.

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    Re: PST Files: Unable to Extract Mail (Office 2000)

    "

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    Re: PST Files: Unable to Extract Mail (Office 2000)

    Just what I was thinking too. But you said it much better. Perhaps Outlook Web Access or terminal server would fit the bill as far as the business communications go. Personal email - at our office anyway - has no business on the company systems. We recommend that our employees find an ISP that provides Internet access. (Hot mail is not recommended).

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    Re: PST Files: Unable to Extract Mail (Office 2000)

    Sorry for the delay in replying, I

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