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Recovering mail from an OST file RRS feed

  • Question

  • Situation:

    An old user/mailbox, deleted about 3 years ago, suddenly is suspected of having a really important email in it. But, the AD account and Exchange 2010 mailbox were deleted sometime in the past, date unknown. Certainly before my time managing the system. Pressure is being applied to "find" the mailbox and/or email. So, poked around the system, looked for backups and PST files, looked for documentation, no joy. The only PST found was from before the important email, so it's no help. As we all scraped around, turns out someone found the old user's profile information, including the OST file from the account, that may have the email in it based on file date/time. It is just a miracle, maybe, that the profile and OST file were saved somewhere.

    Need: So, I need to get into the OST file somehow.

    Is there some way of having Exchange read the OST file back into a message store where we can read the email? I've not seen anything on how to do this, more like the consensus is that it can't be done.

    Can I open the OST file with Outlook? I'm running Outlook 2016, the OST file probably came from Outlook 2010. Certainly the Exchange server where it was located is Exchange 2010.

    Can I convert the OST file to a PST? I've seen some say "use this tool or that tool", I've seen some say that the tools don't work.

    Any help/suggestions are welcome.

    Thanks,

    Steven

    Monday, February 8, 2016 6:22 PM

Answers

  • Well, I'd certainly make a copy of this OST and saving it in a safe place before doing anything.

    You can certainly try to open the OST with Outlook.  I'd recommend trying the same version, i.e., Outlook 2010.  Do not allow Outlook to connect to the server or else you may break things (one reason to keep a copy safely out of reach).

    You're welcome to Bing "OST2PST" but I don't endorse this tool, having never used it, and I can't guarantee that you won't get infected, so be careful!


    Ed Crowley MVP "There are seldom good technological solutions to behavioral problems."
    Celebrating 20 years of providing Exchange peer support!

    • Marked as answer by sklepzig Tuesday, February 9, 2016 6:36 PM
    Monday, February 8, 2016 7:29 PM
  • This site might be worth a read. Way down at the bottom they have some tools you can try. This is at your own risk. I have not tested any of these. Some of them I have heard good things about like OST2 but I have never tried it. You could give it a shot, but make a backup copy first in case something goes wrong.

    http://www.slipstick.com/problems/pst-repair/convert-an-exchange-offline-file-ost-to-a-personal-file-pst/


    Please remember to select Mark as Answer if someone provides the answer or mark as helpful if the response helps to lead you in the right direction.

    • Marked as answer by sklepzig Tuesday, February 9, 2016 6:36 PM
    Monday, February 8, 2016 7:39 PM
  • If you have the users old machine and ability to login as that user then as Ed says you can bring up Outlook and open that OST but ONLY if you login as that user because there is an encryption key in the profile that allows access to the OST, else the ONLY way to open that OST is with a 3rd party product

    Search, Recover, & Extract Mailboxes, Folders, & Email Items from Offline Exchange Mailbox and Public Folder EDB's and Live Exchange Servers or Import/Migrate direct from Offline EDB to Any Production Exchange Server, even cross version i.e. 2003 --> 2007 --> 2010 -->; 2013 --> 2016 with Lucid8's DigiScope http://www.lucid8.com/product/digiscope.asp


    • Edited by Troy Werelius Monday, February 8, 2016 10:05 PM
    • Marked as answer by sklepzig Tuesday, February 9, 2016 6:36 PM
    Monday, February 8, 2016 10:04 PM
  • Where is the OST?  If it's on the original computer and the profile is still present and you can log on to it, that's all you need.  If you don't have that, then you're definitely looking at a tool.  Microsoft doesn't support hacking an OST.

    Ed Crowley MVP "There are seldom good technological solutions to behavioral problems."
    Celebrating 20 years of providing Exchange peer support!

    Tuesday, February 9, 2016 12:14 AM

All replies

  • Well, I'd certainly make a copy of this OST and saving it in a safe place before doing anything.

    You can certainly try to open the OST with Outlook.  I'd recommend trying the same version, i.e., Outlook 2010.  Do not allow Outlook to connect to the server or else you may break things (one reason to keep a copy safely out of reach).

    You're welcome to Bing "OST2PST" but I don't endorse this tool, having never used it, and I can't guarantee that you won't get infected, so be careful!


    Ed Crowley MVP "There are seldom good technological solutions to behavioral problems."
    Celebrating 20 years of providing Exchange peer support!

    • Marked as answer by sklepzig Tuesday, February 9, 2016 6:36 PM
    Monday, February 8, 2016 7:29 PM
  • This site might be worth a read. Way down at the bottom they have some tools you can try. This is at your own risk. I have not tested any of these. Some of them I have heard good things about like OST2 but I have never tried it. You could give it a shot, but make a backup copy first in case something goes wrong.

    http://www.slipstick.com/problems/pst-repair/convert-an-exchange-offline-file-ost-to-a-personal-file-pst/


    Please remember to select Mark as Answer if someone provides the answer or mark as helpful if the response helps to lead you in the right direction.

    • Marked as answer by sklepzig Tuesday, February 9, 2016 6:36 PM
    Monday, February 8, 2016 7:39 PM
  • Thanks.
    Monday, February 8, 2016 8:59 PM
  • Thanks.
    Monday, February 8, 2016 8:59 PM
  • If you have the users old machine and ability to login as that user then as Ed says you can bring up Outlook and open that OST but ONLY if you login as that user because there is an encryption key in the profile that allows access to the OST, else the ONLY way to open that OST is with a 3rd party product

    Search, Recover, & Extract Mailboxes, Folders, & Email Items from Offline Exchange Mailbox and Public Folder EDB's and Live Exchange Servers or Import/Migrate direct from Offline EDB to Any Production Exchange Server, even cross version i.e. 2003 --> 2007 --> 2010 -->; 2013 --> 2016 with Lucid8's DigiScope http://www.lucid8.com/product/digiscope.asp


    • Edited by Troy Werelius Monday, February 8, 2016 10:05 PM
    • Marked as answer by sklepzig Tuesday, February 9, 2016 6:36 PM
    Monday, February 8, 2016 10:04 PM
  • Thanks. Looks like if I have to, which is in question now, I'll have to go 3rd party. The old user is gone, nothing in AD, etc.

    Monday, February 8, 2016 11:59 PM
  • Where is the OST?  If it's on the original computer and the profile is still present and you can log on to it, that's all you need.  If you don't have that, then you're definitely looking at a tool.  Microsoft doesn't support hacking an OST.

    Ed Crowley MVP "There are seldom good technological solutions to behavioral problems."
    Celebrating 20 years of providing Exchange peer support!

    Tuesday, February 9, 2016 12:14 AM
  • Thanks. The OST is in an old copy of the old user's profile. Not even the same computer. A confluence of circumstance is making this difficult. The users that worked with the old user are pouring through their own PSTs, just in case they might have a copy of the email. Yeah, so, why didn't they do that before....?

    Sounds like a tool will be searched for, if necessary.

    Thanks everyone.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2016 6:36 PM
  • You're welcome.  Happy to have helped.

    Ed Crowley MVP "There are seldom good technological solutions to behavioral problems."
    Celebrating 20 years of providing Exchange peer support!

    Tuesday, February 9, 2016 7:15 PM
  • I was stuck in the same problem like you where I can't access old OST file of my Outlook 2016. I have tried everything but I can't success. I read complete details about OST file on the internet and found some interesting facts that OST file is a safe file format for storing emails, contacts etc. OST file can be accessed only with its original created IMAP profile only. If you try to access your OST outside of its originally created IMAP Profile it becomes inaccessible. In that case, you can't perform manual process too because performing manual process you just need to have access of that OST file. And now there is only one way which is third party approach. On internet you can found variety of OST to PST converter tools which help you to migrate your OST file to PST file format. You can choose one of them as per your requirement or you can try this which I have used to convert OST file to PST file format in my case. http://www.ost.topstconverter.com/

    VENDOR SHILL!
    Consider what a big steaming pile of crap this product must be for them to have their employees pose as customers and give phony testimonials.

    Ed Crowley MVP "There are seldom good technological solutions to behavioral problems."
    Celebrating 20 years of providing Exchange peer support!

    Tuesday, April 30, 2019 1:14 PM