Outlook data file cannot be accessed [EXTENSIVE GUIDE]


Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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We send emails almost every day, and while some users prefer using webmail, others use email clients. One of the most popular email clients on Windows 10 is Outlook.

Because it’s many features and very good versatility, extending beyond just a simple email client, Outlook became a go-to app for a lot of users.

Recently, a lot of them have reported the Outlook data file cannot be accessed error message while using it. This is a big issue, and today we’ll address it.

How do I fix Outlook data file error on Windows 10? You can easily solve the problem by creating a new Outlook profile. In many cases the data linked to the profile can be corrupted. If that doesn’t solve the issue, use the Repair option or set a new pst file.

For more information on how to do that, check the guide below.

What can I do to solve Outlook data file cannot be accessed error?

  1. Create a new Outlook profile
  2. Move data file to the default location
  3. Use the Repair option
  4. Check the delivery location
  5. Set the Inbox folder
  6. Set the new pst file
  7. Manually enter the location of the data file
  8. Repair Outlook Data Files
  9. Make sure that you don’t have Send as and Send on behalf options turned on
  10. Make sure that you have the ownership over the data file
  11. Run Test Account Settings
  12. Disable Cached Exchange Mode
  13. End all Outlook related processes
  14. Specific solution – IMAP account on Outlook (moved data)

1. Create a new Outlook profile

One of the ways to fix this error is to create a new Outlook profile. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Press Windows Key + X to open Win+X menu and choose Settings from the list.
  2. In Settings click on Accounts > Email & accounts.
  3. Click the Add an account button.
    add an account button Outlook data file cannot be accessed
  4. Add an account window will appear. Select E-mail Account option, enter your profile name and the required account information. Click Next.
  5. Click Finish and your account will be created.

This process is automatic and it will create an IMAP account by default if the email server supports it. If you want, you can manually configure your email account, but before you can do that you need to locate your Outlook data file.

To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Open Control Panel and click on User accounts > Mail.
  2. When Mail Setup window opens, click on Show Profiles button.
  3. Select your current Outlook profile and click on Properties.
  4. Click on Data Files button.
  5. Account Settings window will now appear. Go to Data Files tab. You should see the name and the location of the data file. Remember the location of the data file because you’ll need it for later steps.

To configure your email account manually, do the following:

  1. Go to Control Panel and select User accounts > Mail.
  2. Click on the Add button.
  3. Enter the profile name and click OK.
  4. In Add New Account window select Manually configure server settings or additional server types and click Next.
  5. In Choose service dialog box select Internet E-mail and click Next.
  6. Enter your account details in Internet E-mail Settings window.
  7. In Deliver new messages to section select Existing Outlook Data File, click Browse and locate your data file.
  8. Click Next and your new Outlook profile should be successfully created.

Some users are also suggesting to back up your data file and delete your Outlook profile before creating a new one and linking it to the data file. Creating a new profile will remove all your settings, but it should fix the error.


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2. Move data file to the default location

move data file Outlook data file cannot be accessed

According to users, if you’re getting Outlook data file cannot be accessed error message, you might want to try moving your data file to a different location.

Some of them reported that moving the file didn’t solve the problem, but after moving the file back to the original location and restarting the PC, the error was completely fixed.


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3. Use the Repair option

One way to fix this problem is to use the Repair option. This option is located in Control Panel > Mail, and all that you have to do is to select the Repair option and wait for the repair process to repair Outlook. After that this error should be fixed.


4. Check the delivery location

Users reported that this error can occur if your delivery location isn’t correct. Usually emails should be stored in Personal FolderInbox, but if this location isn’t correct, you’ll have to manually change it.

Some users reported that delivery location isn’t even set for certain accounts, so you’ll have to enter it manually. Simply open Account Settings > Email accounts and click the Change Location button.

Be sure to enter the correct delivery location. After setting the correct delivery location this error should be fixed.


5. Set the Inbox folder

This error can appear if the Inbox folder isn’t specified. To fix this problem follow these steps:

  1. Go to File > Account Settings > Account Settings.
  2. Click the Change Folder and click the + next to the folder name to expand it.
  3. Click Inbox and click OK.
  4. Close Account Settings and click Send and Receive button.

Some users claim that you can fix this problem simply by selecting a different folder and saving changes. After that, select the original Inbox folder and save your changes again.

Another suggested solution is to create and use a different folder to store your emails. If everything works, delete that folder and check if the issue is resolved. We don’t know if this solution works, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try it.


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6. Set the new pst file

To fix this problem you might have to set a new pst file. Of course, you can use the copy of the old pst file if you want to preserve your data. To do that, simply locate your pst file and create its copy.

Go to the Emails tab, select Change Folder and remove your old pst file. Add “new” pst file and restart Outlook. If using the copy of the old pst file doesn’t solve the issue, you might want to create a completely new pst file.

To create a new pst file, follow these steps:

  1. Go to File > Account Settings and select the desired account.
  2. Click Change Folder > Create new Outlook data file. Enter the desired name.
  3. Click the + icon and choose Inbox. You should see a new path added below the Change folder button.

Some users are suggesting to create a new pst file and then set your old pst file as the default one. According to them, this method solved the issue for many, so feel free to try it.


7. Manually enter the location of the data file

Outlook data file cannot be accessed  enter the location of the data file

Few users reported that they are unable to change the location of the data file. According to them, after creating a new user account they are unable to locate the data file because the Browse button is grayed out.

Fortunately, you can circumvent this problem simply by manually entering the location of the data file. After doing that, you should be able to save your settings and fix the problem.


8. Repair Outlook Data Files

If you’re getting Outlook data file cannot be accessed error, you might want to try repairing the data file. Keep in mind that if you’re using a Microsoft Exchange account, you can simply remove the data file and it should be recreated automatically.

If you don’t use Microsoft Exchange, you’ll have to follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Outlook installation directory and run scanpst.exe file.
  2. After the program starts, in the Enter the name of the file you want to scan field enter the name of .pst file or click the Browse button and locate the file manually.
  3. Click the Start button to start the scanning.
  4. If the scan finds any problems, click the Repair button to fix them.

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9. Make sure that you don’t have Send as and Send on behalf options turned on

According to users, Exchange has some issues with Send as and Send on behalf options, and if you have both of these options turned on you’ll encounter this error.

One of the fastest ways to fix this problem is to disable Send as or Send on behalf option. After doing that, the issue should be resolved.


10. Make sure that you have the ownership over the data file

Users reported that Outlook data file cannot be accessed error appears if you don’t have the ownership over the data file. To fix this problem, you need to gain ownership over that file. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Locate your data file and right click it. Choose Properties from the menu.
  2. Go to Security tab and click the Advanced button.
    outlook data file cannot be accessed permissions
  3. Check the Owner section. If the Owner is set to an unknown user name, click the Change link.
    outlook data file cannot be accessed pemissions
  4. In the Enter the object name to select enter your user name and click Check Names. If your user name is correct, click OK to save changes.
    outlook data file cannot be accessed select user or group
  5. Owner section will be changed. Be sure to assign Full control to your user account. Click Apply and OK to save changes.

After taking the ownership over the data file, the error should be completely resolved.


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11. Run Test Account Settings

Some users claim that they fixed this issue simply by running Test Account Settings. This feature will test your settings and repair any potential errors, so be sure to try it.


12. Disable Cached Exchange Mode

Sometimes Cached Exchange Mode can interfere with Outlook and cause Outlook data file cannot be accessed error. You should be able to fix this error by disabling Cached Exchange Mode. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Open Control Panel and go to Mail > Email Accounts > Email tab.
  2. Select your email account and uncheck the Use Cached Exchange Mode option.
  3. After that, just click Next and Finish and restart Outlook.

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13. End all Outlook related processes

Sometimes other Outlook processes can interfere with Outlook and cause this error to appear. You can easily fix this problem by starting Task Manager and ending all processes that are related to Outlook.

Simply press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to start Task Manager. After Task Manager starts, end all processes that are related to Outlook.

In addition, you need to end any processes that have Communicator, Lync, ucmapi or Outlook in their name. After you close them, restart Outlook and check if the problem is resolved.


Specific solution – IMAP account on Outlook (moved data)

1. Edit your registry

This is an advanced solution that requires modifying your registry. Changing the registry can lead to issues with certain software if you don’t do it properly, therefore be extra cautions.

This solution applies if you use IMAP account on Outlook and if you moved your data file to a new location. To fix this problem, you need to edit the registry by following these steps:

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter regedit. Press Enter or click OK.
    outlook data-file cannot be accessed regedit run window
  2. When Registry Editor opens, navigate to the following key. Bear in mind that this key might be different on your PC:
    • HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-21-2252105952-3583732995-3196064763-1000\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Windows Messaging Subsystem\Profiles\Outlook\9375CFF0413111d3B88A00104B2A6676
  3. After you locate this key, right click it and choose Export. Select the location where you want to save this file. In case anything goes wrong, you can use this file to restore these settings to default.
    outlook data file cannot be accessed export registry
  4. Find the folder that has Delivery Store EntryID key. Double click Delivery Store EntryID key to open its properties.
  5. Data should be shown in Hexadecimal, but you can view it normally in the right column. Find the path to the original data file and change it so it matches the new path where data file is stored.
  6. Close Registry Editor and check if the problem is resolved.

If any problems appear, you can simply restore original settings but running the file that you created in Step 3. Few users reported that this issue was fixed after renaming the the key from Step 2, so you might want to try that. Keep in mind that renaming the key can cause issues with Outlook.


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2. Create a link to your data file

Users reported that this issue appeared after moving the data file of the IMAP account to a new location. According to them, you can avoid this problem by creating a link to the new location of the data file. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Start Command Prompt as administrator. To do that, in the Windows search box type cmd and right-click the first result. Select Run as Administrator.Outlook data file cannot be accessed error run as administrator
  2. Let’s assume that data file was stored in C:\users\Local Settings\MicrosoftOutlook directory. Using the Command Prompt navigate to the C:\users\Local Settings\Microsoft\ directory. You need to use cd command to do that.
  3. After you enter this directory in Command Prompt, enter mklink /D %CD%Outlook D:\Outlook. Keep in mind that we used D:\Outlook as an example, so be sure to use the directory that matches the new location of your data file. Press Enter and wait for the command to execute.

If you performed this process properly, the error should be resolved.


3. Move the pst file to a different location

According to some users, you can fix this problem simply by moving your data file to a different location. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Open Control Panel and go to User accounts > Mail.
  2. Go to Data Filestab and select the data file that you want to move.
  3. Click the Open File Location button. Don’t close Data Files window.
  4. Locate the .pst file, cut it and paste it to a different location.
  5. Go back to Mail window and click your data file.
  6. You should get a warning saying that .pst file can’t be found. Use the Browse option to locate your .pst file.
  7. Close Account Settings window and start Outlook again.

Outlook data file cannot be accessed error on Windows 10 can prevent you from reading your email messages, but you should be able to fix this annoying problem by using one of our solutions.

If you’re interested in other issues with Outlook on Windows 10, check these awesome guides:

For any other questions, don’t hesitate to reach for the comments section below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2016 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness