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How to Import OST to Outlook? – Choose the Secure Way

Published By Aswin Vijayan
Approved By Anuraag Singh
Published On October 4th, 2023
Reading Time 8 Minutes Reading
Category Conversion

Isn’t it frustrating when you try to import OST to Outlook and it just doesn’t open? Moreover, you also see the dialogue prompt that says, “OST is not an Outlook data file” or “OST file not recognized by Outlook”. We understand your dismay and therefore, we have drafted this technical write-up to provide guidance and solutions on opening an Outlook Data File (.ost) in Microsoft Outlook. So without wasting any time, let’s jump straight into the article.

Now, a lot of times people are unaware of the many reasons why their OST file is not opening in Outlook. Don’t worry, we got the answer.

Reasons Why your OST File is Not Opening in Outlook

  • You are trying to import an orphaned, corrupted or damaged OST file.
  • MS Outlook application suddenly terminated.
  • Synchronization between Outlook and Exchange server was disrupted and thus, failed.

These are a few of the reasons why you may be facing issues while trying to import OST to Outlook. However, these may also make you think of why does Outlook even create OST files then? Though it may seem unlikely, OST files are crucial for Outlook users and especially for businesspersons.

Why does Outlook Create OST Files?

We are aware that OST stands for “Offline Storage Table”. Outlook creates OST files when configured with exchange server. It stores a copy of your server mailbox in your computer’s hard drive. OST files are important because they let us access our Outlook email, calendars, attachments, contacts, notes and other Outlook items even in offline mode. Moreover, we can draft our messages in offline mode.
Now, the question arises if it is even possible to migrate OST files in Outlook. Well, we have discussed that in the next segment of this article.

Is It Possible to Import OST in Outlook?

As per Microsoft’s official statement, “you can’t migrate or import an OST file directly into Outlook”. However, you can copy your offline data into new Outlook on another computer by either configuring the Outlook to the server and creating a new OST file or by changing your OST file into Outlook format.

Furthermore, a fact that only a lesser number of users are aware of is that OST files get divided into two types when you try to move them to Outlook. One is Exchange OST files whereas the other one is Orphaned OST files.

Exchange OST File: This type of file is linked with the server and Outlook. It is much easier to import these to Outlook. Moreover, there are multiple methods for doing so.

Orphaned OST File: On the other hand, if the mailbox of an OST file is inaccessible or removed, that OST file is deemed an orphan. This type of file is nearly impossible to import and access.

As we said, you can either create a new OST file or you can change it into Outlook format. The latter option is much easier and more versatile than the former.
Moreover, there are multiple other instances where users need to move OST files into Outlook format; we have mentioned a few below.

Major Reasons You May Need to Migrate OST to Outlook

  1. Exchange Server Downtime: Downtime is when a machine is unavailable for use or out of service. An exchange server downtime can happen anytime because of multiple reasons like viruses, malware attacks, and hardware or software failures. Therefore, users must have a backup of their OST files to be able to quickly restore the Exchange Server Mailboxes in a short time, whenever a downtime strikes.
  2. Exchange Server Maintenance: One must put the Exchange Server on maintenance regularly to keep it running smoothly and avoid downtime. However, our exchange servers are not accessible when we put them in maintenance mode. Hence, users prefer to transfer their OST files to Outlook data files to be able to access them when the exchange server goes under maintenance.
  3. Migrate Data from One System to Another: There are multiple reasons that may cause you to migrate your data. Be it changing systems or switching an organization. However, there’s no way to directly import OST to Outlook. Therefore, the only way to move them is by converting them to PST format.

Now that we have cleared that up, let’s see the various methods to execute it.

But before that, let us acquaint ourselves with locating an OST file. Because you have to have your OST file located before you proceed with any of the methods.

How to Locate an OST file in your System?

Follow the steps provided below to locate/find the OST file that you want to convert.

  • Go to the File Tab of Outlook. Double-click on the Account Setting option.
    Locate OST File
  • Go to the Data File Tab. Click on the Open File Location option. It will redirect you to the location of the OST file.
    Locate OST file to import OST to Outlook

Methods to Migrate OST to Outlook

In this article, we have shared two manual solutions and an automated solution. However, many technical experts advise going for the automated tool as the manual method has limitations that restrict it from becoming the preferred choice of experts as well as users. But, let’s first see how you can utilize the manual methods to import OST to Outlook.

Import OST to Outlook Manually

These manual techniques can be used if the following specific conditions are fulfilled.

  • Your OST file is linked with the exchange server i.e. is working and accessible.
  • Your Outlook profile is active.

If either one of these conditions is left unfulfilled then, no manual method is applicable in this situation. Needless to say, you can’t import a corrupted or inaccessible OST file into Outlook with any of these methods.

Use the Archive Feature Import OST to Outlook

This Outlook feature allows you to archive old emails from OST files into Outlook format. Follow the given steps to execute the task.

  1. Open Outlook.
  2. Go to the File Menu. Click on Options.
    Use the Auto-archive settings to import OST to Outlook
  3. Then, select the Advanced option and click on Auto Archive Settings.
  4. After that, set up the auto-archive according to your needs. Set the day count to run auto-archive. Moreover, you can set a count to clear old emails.
    Run auto-archive settings to import OST to Outlook
  5. Click OK; Outlook will automatically create an archive of your OST emails at the specified time.

Furthermore, you can check if the Archive utility is working by navigating to the location you picked to save the files.

Move OST to Outlook with Import/Export

This is another inbuilt Outlook utility. To execute, follow the given instructions below.

  1. Start Outlook on your computer.
  2. Click on the File button to open the File Menu.
  3. Select the Open & Export option in it. Click on Import/Export.
    choose import/export in the file menu of Outlook
  4. Then, choose the Export to a File option.
    Export to file to migrate OST to Outlook
  5. Select the Outlook Data File (.pst). Click Next.
    select PST option to add OST to Outlook
  6. Browse the folder in which you want to save the files and click Finish.
    Browse the desired folder to save the files

And that’s all; As you can see these methods are avoided because of their lengthy nature. In addition to that, they require technical knowledge to execute.

Why do Experts Suggest to Avoid Manual Methods?

  • The archive option does not archive any Outlook item other than the emails. Moreover, you receive those emails after configuring the archive settings. Therefore, it is not a feasible option to import OST to Outlook.
  • It is impossible to import multiple OST files with the manual technique. In addition to that, there are high chances that your data may get divided into several PST files which results in losing your precious data.
  • Executing the task with a manual method is extremely time-consuming. Thus, if you have several OST files that you want to import, it may take you months to do that.
  • The manual methods are not capable enough to import corrupted OST files to Outlook. This makes them an unreliable choice.

Due to these reasons, both experts and users tend to steer clear of the manual approach. therefore, in the next segment, we have shared a professional tool to ease all your worries. So, keep on reading to get a reliable solution.

Import OST to Outlook with a Professional Solution

So, we have come to the long-awaited solution for migrating OST files to Outlook. For that, as experts recommend, you should go for an automated solution. Well, we couldn’t just pick one, thus, we have prepared a list of top OST to PST Converters that will help you achieve a smooth migration process. Check them all out and choose whichever one that fulfils all your requirements.

The Bottom Line

In this article, we shared all possible methods that you can use to import OST to Outlook. We shared two manual methods. Moreover, we also shared one automated tool. However, the manual methods are only applicable when specific conditions are fulfilled. Therefore, numerous technical experts recommend using a professional tool.