Many times I have seen people asking how to convert OST to PST format. There are so many vendors in the online marketplace who provide OST to PST Converter tools. Using any such tool, one can easily import OST to Outlook without requiring any prior technical expertise. For those users who are looking for a free solution, I have come with some easy manual tricks that can help you import OST to Outlook without using any 3rd party tool.
Before I can explain the manual solutions to import OST to Outlook, let us first understand the difference between OST vs PST files and why it becomes a necessity to convert OST to PST format.
OST vs PST
OST and PST both are Outlook data files. They both have the same file structure, and they store the same type of mailbox data. If you are using Microsoft Outlook as a stand-alone application, it will create a PST (Personal Storage Table) file to store your email messages and other mailbox data. On the other hand, if your Outlook profile is configured with Exchange Server and the Cached Exchange Mode is enabled, it will create a copy of your mailbox data and save it into an OST (Offline Storage Table) file. Just like a PST file, an OST file is also saved on the local computer where Microsoft Outlook is installed.
In order to access or read the emails and other mailbox data saved in a PST file, an Internet connection is mainly required. You cannot do anything if you do not have a proper Internet connection. But there is no such limitation with OST files. You can easily access your emails and other mailbox data even if you are not connected to the Internet. An OST aka Offline storage table file, as the name implies, allows you to work in offline mode. You can make any changes to the OST file during the offline mode. Once you are reconnected to the Internet, the changes you have made earlier get synchronized with Exchange Server. Remember, you must enable the “Use Offline Folders” option in the Outlook client to open and work with an OST file in offline mode.
Why Do Users Create OST File?
OST Offline storage table file is very useful for Exchange users. How? It can save the Exchange data in an offline folder. It allows Exchange users to work in offline mode in a case of Exchange unavailability, limited connectivity, or no Internet connection. Even if there is any sort of problem with Microsoft Exchange Server, the OST file will not be affected.
OST to PST Conversion
Sometimes a situation may arise where you need to export OST to PST file format. Many reasons could be leading to this situation, such as:
Exchange Server Crash
Just like any other computer software, Exchange Server is also prone to crash and other issues. An Exchange Server may fail or crash down unexpectedly due to many reasons that include sudden virus infection, power failure, internal bugs, software malfunction, etc. Whenever an Exchange Server fails or crashes down, you cannot use it until it gets repaired. Sometimes the repair process may take a lot of time. In such a situation, you can simply export OST to PST file to continue your work.
Exchange Server Maintenance
Microsoft Exchange Server needs regular maintenance. You cannot log in to Exchange Server if it has gone for the maintenance. Although you have the OST file where you can make changes, you cannot save them because the Exchange Server is under maintenance. In this situation, it is better to convert OST to PST file. And then you can access your old Exchange data via Microsoft Outlook.
An OST file can only be opened in the computer where it was originally created. If you are planning to migrate the Exchange mailbox data from one system to another, you need to convert OST to PST file. Or, if you are leaving your organization and you want to keep a copy of your mailbox data, you can export OST to PST file format.
Just like a PST file, an OST file is also prone to corruption. There are various reasons that can cause corruption, such as virus infection, storage media failure, software malfunction, insufficient storage space, etc. If you have a corrupt OST file, you can recover its data by converting it into PST format.
Now the question is, how to convert OST to PST.
Convert OST to PST Manually
There are many vendors in the online marketplace that provide OST to PST Converter tools. You can use any such professional solution to successfully import OST to Outlook client. Although these tools are available with a free demo version, you have to purchase the licensed version to execute the complete conversion. Should you be interested, there are a few manual solutions that can help you. The manual solutions I am sharing here do not convert OST to PST format, but you can use them to export the mailbox data from OST to Outlook.
Manual Solution #1 to Export OST to PST
Microsoft Outlook has a built-in Archive feature that can help you move or copy your mailbox data (excepts Contacts) from OST to PST file. Follow the steps given below:
- First, launch Microsoft Outlook and open the OST file from which you want to import the mailbox data to Outlook.
- Click the File tab on the main menu and select Info > Cleanup Tools > Archive.
- On the Archive pop-up window, select “Archive this folder and all subfolders” option if it not selected by default. Now select the mailbox folder that you want to import.
- Select a date from the calendar shown next to the “Archive items older than” option.
- Click Browse and select a location where you want to save the new PST file.
- Finally, click OK to start the process.
Within a few minutes, the process will be completed successfully. You can check the new PST file containing the mailbox folder archived from the OST file.
Manual Solution #2 to Export OST to PST
There is one more built-in feature of Microsoft Outlook you can use here, Export. Using this feature, you can successfully export the mailbox data from OST to PST, CSV, and Excel formats. Before using the steps given below, you need to create a new PST file.
- First, launch Microsoft Outlook. Click the File tab on the main menu and select Info > Open > Import.
- On Import and Export Wizard, choose “Export to a file” in the options and click Next to continue the process.
- On the Export to a file window, choose “Outlook Data File (.pst)” in the options and click Next to continue the process.
- On the Export Outlook Data File window, you need to expand the OST file and choose the mailbox folder you want to export. If you want to include subfolders, you can select the option. Click Next to continue the process.
- Click Browse and select the PST file you have created earlier. Also, select any of the below options:
- Replace duplicates with items exported
- Allow duplicate items to be created
- Do not export duplicate items
- Now click Finish to start the export process.
Within a few minutes, the process will be completed successfully. You can check the new PST file containing the mailbox folder of your OST file.
In this article, we have discussed the two most common manual solutions that can help you export the mailbox data from OST to Outlook without requiring any 3rd party paid software.