Several users have been encountering the “You Cannot Delete this Outlook Data File” error when trying to get rid of a bad Outlook Data file or to remove an Exchange account from Outlook. This particular issue is reported to occur with multiple Outlook versions including Outlook 2003, Outlook 2010, and Outlook 2016.
What is causing the “You Cannot Delete this Outlook Data File” error?
We studied this particular error message by taking a look at various user reports and the repair strategies that most affected users have deployed in order to get the issue resolved. As it turns out, there are several common scenarios that are known to trigger this particular error message:
- Outlook (or a different email client) is using the data file – This is undoubtedly the most common scenario. The majority of users fail to delete the Outlook data file because Outlook is opened and is using it actively. If this case is applicable, the fix is as simple as closing the email client (Outlook or other). Another approach is to close the PST / OST file from Outlook directly.
- Corrupted Outlook profile – Another scenario that might trigger this particular issue is a corrupted Outlook profile. If the PST / OST file contains bad data, you might be prevented from deleting it conventionally. In this case, you might be successful by deleting the data file manually or by deleting the entire Outlook profile.
If you’re currently struggling to resolve this particular error, this article will provide you with several troubleshooting steps. Down below, you’ll find five different methods that affected users all over the world have successfully used to resolve the issue.
Not every potential fix will be applicable to your particular scenario, so we urge you to follow the methods in the order that they are presented and skip those that aren’t applicable.
Method 1: Close Outlook
If you receive this error message while trying to delete the Data file, you should start investigating if any instance of Outlook is currently running on your computer. Or it could be a different email client that is using the same Data file.
Keep in mind that if Outlook.exe or a different application is running and is actively using the Data file, you’ll keep seeing the“You Cannot Delete this Outlook Data File” error because the file is in use.
With this in mind, open up your Task Manager (Ctrl + Shift + Esc),go to the Processes taband see if you see any evidence of an Outlook process that is currently running. If you see one, simply right-click on it and choose End Task.
If this method wasn’t applicable and all your email clients we’re already closed, move down to the next method below.
Method 2: Closing the PST / OST file from Outlook (Outlook 2013 and older only)
Several users that we’re encountering the issue on Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013 when trying to import an Outlook 2003 file have reported that the issue was resolved after they right-clicked on the PST / OST file from the main Outlook screen and clicked on the Close option.
After confirming at the warning prompt, affected users have reported that the Data file could be deleted without encountering the“You Cannot Delete this Outlook Data File” error.
Note: This method will not be applicable on versions newer than Outlook 2013.
If this method wasn’t applicable or you’re looking for a different approach of resolving the problem, move down to the next method below.
Method 3: Removing the Outlook profile
Some users that we’re encountering the “You Cannot Delete this Outlook Data File” error have managed to resolve it by removing the Outlook profile in which the account is configured. This route might be a little more intrusive than the other fixes, but it’s known to fix the issue in most cases.
The only inconvenient is that you will lose any data currently stored on the Outlook profile. If you decide to go through with it, here’s what you need to do:
Note: You should be able to follow the steps below regardless of your Windows version.
- Close Outlook Completely and any associated service.
- Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Then, type “control.exe” and press Enter to open up the classic Control Panel interface.
- Once you’re inside Control Panel, use the search function (top-right corner) to search for “mail“. Then, click on Mail (it’s typically the only result).
- Once you see the Mail Setup window, click the Show Profiles button associated with Profiles.
- Inside the Mail window, simply select the Outlook profiletied to the data file that is giving you issues and clickonRemove.
- Hit Yes at the confirmation prompt to remove your profile.
- Restart your computer and see if you’re able to delete the Outlook data file without receiving the“You Cannot Delete this Outlook Data File” error.
Note: The next time you open Outlook, the email client will create you a new OST/PST file along with a new profile right after you sign in with your email credentials. So there’s no need for you to input them manually inside the Mail screen.
If this method is not applicable or you’re looking for a different approach, move down to the next method below.
Method 4: Deleting the PST / OST file manually
Some users have been able to resolve the“You Cannot Delete this Outlook Data File” error by deleting the PST file manually. This can be done by accessing the AppData folder and deleting it conventionally. But in order for this to be successful, you’ll need to ensure that the data file is not being used by Outlook or another email client.
Here’s a quick guide on deleting the PST file manually:
- Open FileExplorer and navigate to the following location:
C:\ Users \ *YourUser* \ AppData \ Local \ Microsoft \ Outlook
Note: If the AppData folder is not visible, access the View tab (of File Explorer) from the ribbon bar at the top and make sure that the box associated with Hidden Items is checked.(Video) How to Delete Outlook Data File | How to Delete Outlook Data Files in Windows 10?
- Once you get to that location, simply right-click on it and choose Delete to get rid of it. You should be able to do so without encountering the“You Cannot Delete this Outlook Data File” error.
Method 5: Deleting all email accounts via Registry Editor
If you’ve come this far without a satisfactory solution, one radical resolution is to simply delete all mail accounts from your system. This will ensure that no email account will actively use the Data file, which will allow you to delete it without encountering the “You Cannot Delete this Outlook Data File” error.
But keep in mind that going this route will also remove any locally stored data related to your email accounts connected through Outlook. Obviously, you’ll also need to set up your accounts all over again.
If you decide to go with this radical solution, here’s what you need to do:
- Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Then, type “regedit” and press Enter to open up the Registry Editor. When prompted by the UAC (User Account Control),click Yes to grant administrative privileges.
- Once you get inside the Registry Editor, use the left-hand pane to navigate to the following location:
Note: If you can’t find this exact key, it means that this method is not applicable to your particular scenario.
- Right-click on Windows Messaging Subsystem and choose Delete
Once the Windows Messaging Subsystem key is deleted, all mail account data will be removed. Just restart your computer and you will no longer encounter the“You Cannot Delete this Outlook Data File” error when trying to delete the data file.
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How can I delete Outlook data file? ›
On the Data Files tab, choose the data file location which includes OneDrive and select Remove and Yes to disconnect the file. Notes: No email data will be lost by selecting Remove, it is just disconnected from your Outlook account. It can be re-added if necessary.Can I delete Outlook AppData? ›
Quit outlook. Go to C:Users\User-Name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook to search for the OST file. When you are at he . ost file location you can delete it from there.Why is Outlook not letting me delete folders? ›
Right-click the folder, and then click Properties to check your permissions for the folder. See the folder owner or your administrator to change your permissions.How do I fix Outlook data file has reached the maximum size? ›
1. Compress PST File. Outlook provides an option to compact the Outlook PST data file, which essentially compresses the PST file by removing the white space or space left by deleted mail items. By compressing the PST file, you can resolve the Outlook data file has reached the maximum size error.What do I do when my Outlook data file is full? ›
Run the Mailbox Cleanup tool
Click the File tab. Click Tools > Mailbox Cleanup. Select View Mailbox Size, Find items older than, Find items larger than, View Deleted Items Size, Empty Deleted Items folder, View Conflicts Size, or Empty Conflicts to perform your desired task.
- Exit Outlook and browse to one of the following file locations: ...
- Open SCANPST. ...
- Select Browse to select the Outlook Data File (. ...
- Choose Start to begin the scan.
- If the scan finds errors, choose Repair to start the process to fix them.
You can clear your Microsoft Outlook cache to keep the program running smoothly. Microsoft Outlook, like any email client, stores data in a container known as a cache. Clearing your cache is relatively simple and can help troubleshoot some of Outlook's performance issues.Is it safe to delete Outlook PST file? ›
If you want to remove a pst-file from Outlook, do not delete the file but disconnect/remove/close it in Outlook first. After removing it from Outlook, close Outlook to release the lock on the pst-file and then you can safely delete it.How do I clean up my AppData folder? ›
- Press the Windows logo key + R to launch the “Run” App.
- In the Run app, type %temp% and hit enter.
- This will open the temporary files folder in the AppData app.
- Now, press “Ctrl + A” on your computer to select all the temporary files.
- Press “Delete” to delete all the temporary files in the folder.
Right-click the folder you want to delete and click Delete Folder. Click Yes to move the folder and its contents to the Deleted Items folder.
How do you force delete a folder that won't delete? ›
Use Shift + Delete to Force Delete File/Folder. You can select the target file or folder and press Shift + Delete keyboard shortcut to delete the file/folder permanently. This file deletion method won't pass the Recycle Bin.How do I fix unable to delete files? ›
- Close the Program. Let's start with the obvious.
- Reboot your computer.
- End the Application via the Task Manager.
- Change File Explorer Process Settings.
- Disable the File Explorer Preview Pane.
- Force Delete the File in Use via the Command Prompt.
Here are some ways to keep your mailbox size under control:
- Archive older items – Move old items you want to keep to an archive. ...
- Empty the Deleted Items folder – Empty the Deleted Items folder frequently to make sure you aren't keeping messages you don't need.
The new Outlook file size limit of 50 GB can be increased or decreased by making changes to the Windows registry. For more information, see How to configure the size limit for both (. pst) and (. ost) files in Outlook.How do I bypass email size limits? ›
- Compress Your Files. Compressing your files to bypass Gmail's size limit is one of the easiest methods. ...
- File Splitters. You can also use file splitters to bypass the size limit of Gmail. ...
- Cloud Storage Options. ...
- Cloud-Based File Transfer Service.
- Uninstall the Outlook application.
- Delete all the profiles.
- Delete the tree under the registry key [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office] (or you can go in and only delete the sub-trees for your Outlook version if you want to keep state for other Office applications)
To repair a corrupt PST file, use the following module: Repair Mailbox: This module allows users to repair a damaged Outlook PST file and makes the PST file usable. Further, users can easily access their data items, such as emails and their attachments, contacts, calendars, tasks, journals, etc.What is Outlook data file and do I need it? ›
Outlook Data Files (. ost) are used when you have an Exchange account and want to work offline or use the default Cached Exchange Mode. This type of data file is also used for accounts that you set up with the Outlook Connector for Outlook.com. Outlook Data Files (.What causes corruption Outlook data file? ›
These include improper data recovery procedures and tools, virus attacks, improper Outlook shutdown and a deficient Outlook program. Wrong file system recovery often damages often leads to the PST file corrupted.What causes data file corruption? ›
Most data corruptions occur when a file somehow flips or mixes its binary code (bits of 0s and 1s). Bits are mixed up for many reasons, including hardware problems, software-based issues, and human mistakes. Common symptoms of data corruption: A computer slows down or keeps freezing.
Why Outlook files get corrupted? ›
A PST file may be corrupted if it is open in Outlook when the application terminates abnormally. This can happen if either Outlook or Windows crashes, or if the machine is powered down without quitting Outlook and Windows normally.Is clearing cache worth it? ›
When we update our application, your browser may still use old files. If you don't clear your cache, you may see old forms. Old files can cause display or access problems when you apply online.Will clearing cache delete anything? ›
You'll get some storage space back, but nothing you've downloaded will be deleted. Depending on the app, user data such as your preferences or search history may be reset.Does clearing cache delete anything important? ›
Tip: Clearing the cache simply clears temporary files. It won't erase login credentials, downloaded files, or custom settings.What is difference between PST and Outlook data file? ›
Difference b/w Outlook OST and PST file:
OST is the offline folder created by the M.S. Outlook and Server to store offline copies of data, whereas PST is not created by the Outlook or Exchange Server. Users create it to store emails, contacts and calendar entries, etcetera.
About Outlook data files
Outlook uses a data file to save items on your computer, the Outlook Personal Folders file (. pst). With a Microsoft Exchange account, your items are usually delivered to and saved on the e-mail server.
An Outlook Data File (. pst) contains your messages and other Outlook items and is saved on your computer.Does resetting Windows clear Appdata? ›
Personal files are kept. Contents of Appdata and of Program Data are not removed either, but land in Windows. old, and can be recovered manually from there.Why is a folder not deleting? ›
When you cannot delete a folder, the OS is blocked from responding to your commands. A possible solution for this issue is to restart your system and try deleting the folder again. Another fix for this annoying issue is to use a third-party tool to solve the problem.How do I bypass a folder in delete? ›
- Close the Program. Let's start with the obvious. ...
- Reboot your computer. ...
- End the Application via the Task Manager. ...
- Change File Explorer Process Settings. ...
- Disable the File Explorer Preview Pane. ...
- Force Delete the File in Use via the Command Prompt.
How do I force delete a full folder? ›
To remove a directory and all its contents, including any subdirectories and files, use the rm command with the recursive option, -r . Directories that are removed with the rmdir command cannot be recovered, nor can directories and their contents removed with the rm -r command.How do I force delete an Undeletable file? ›
Press "Ctrl + Alt + Delete" simultaneously and choose "Task Manager" to open it. Find the application where your data is in use. Select it and click "End task". Try to delete the undeletable information once again.How do I delete stubborn files and folders? ›
Right-click a stubborn file to erase in File Explorer and select Show more options (for viewing the classic context menu). Select the Force Delete option there to erase the file. Alternatively, you can select an Unlock by ForceDelete option to unlock a locked file in use.How do I force uninstall a file? ›
In the search box on the taskbar, type Control Panel and select it from the results. Select Programs > Programs and Features. Press and hold (or right-click) on the program you want to remove and select Uninstall or Uninstall/Change.How do I get permission from system to delete a file? ›
- Take ownership of the file or the folder.
- Disable User Account Control.
- Activate the built-in Administrator account.
- Use SFC.
- Use Safe Mode.
- Navigate to the folder you would like to delete the messages from (e.g. Inbox). ...
- Hold down the Shift key on your keyboard. ...
- Right-click on the selected messages and select Delete.
- This will now delete all the highlighted emails at once.
- Click any message to select it.
- Then press CTRL + A to select all the messages in the folder.
- Press the Delete key to eliminate them.
- Click the first message and then scroll to the last email you want to delete.
- Holding Shift, click the final email.
- Press Delete.
Well, this error message occurs when the Outlook PST file reached its maximum storage limit. To fix the error, you need to minimize the mailbox size in your Outlook. In this post, we're going to walk you through four ways to reduce the Outlook mailbox size to resolve Outlook mailbox full error issue.What happens when you compact Outlook data file? ›
Compacting Outlook data files reclaims the space that is unavailable because it was previously occupied by an item. This can greatly reduce the amount of space that the OST or PST file occupies on your hard drive, and helps Outlook function efficiently.Does archiving reduce mailbox size? ›
The downside to this method is, of course, that it doesn't shrink the size of your mailbox. The message is still there, but it's just been moved to a different folder in an efficient fashion.
What happens when OST file reached maximum size? ›
When OST reaches the maximum size, it prevents users from accessing their Outlook email account and restricts communication. To fix this, you can follow the suggested manual methods to reduce the OST file size. You can also convert OST into PST using a professional OST to PST converter tool.How many GB is too big for email? ›
In general, when attaching files to an email, you can be pretty confident that up to 10 MB of attachments will be okay. Today, few email servers have smaller limits than this (though some old office set ups may have lower limits). Gmail and Yahoo Mail, by way of example, both allow you to attach up to 25 MB.What happens if your email is too full? ›
The "mailbox full" error message simply means that the recipient's mailbox is full (may have exceeded the memory size limit) and can no longer hold any messages. The recipient needs to delete old messages or move them to a different folder to make room for new messages.Is it OK to delete PST file? ›
If you want to remove a pst-file from Outlook, do not delete the file but disconnect/remove/close it in Outlook first. After removing it from Outlook, close Outlook to release the lock on the pst-file and then you can safely delete it.Is it safe to delete Outlook ETL files? ›
ETL files are known as Event Tracing Logs. Yes, it can be deleted, but without know what program is creating that event file, it may come back.Why do I have an Outlook data file in Outlook? ›
This feature allows you to access your previously downloaded or synchronized email messages, calendar information, contacts, and tasks without an internet connection. Certain types of accounts, such as POP accounts, store their information in Outlook Data Files (. pst files).What is stored in Outlook data file? ›
What is an Outlook data file? To put it simple, an Outlook data file is a file where Outlook stores your emails, tasks and other Outlook related information. A data file can be located on your local disk or on a network path.What happens if Outlook PST is deleted? ›
If you just deleted the PST file, you should be able to restore it from the Recycle Bin. If it is permanent deletion or you have emptied the Recycle Bin, you will need to recover it from a backup if you have one.Why PST files get corrupted? ›
A PST file may be corrupted if it is open in Outlook when the application terminates abnormally. This can happen if either Outlook or Windows crashes, or if the machine is powered down without quitting Outlook and Windows normally.What is the downside of a PST file? ›
Problem Businesses Face: PST files have a 2GB limit and when the saved files get close to the maximum storage space, the data can become corrupted. Although PST files have a recovery capability, it is not sufficient to recover most corrupted files, resulting in complete loss of company data.
What is Outlook ETL file? ›
What is an ETL file? ETL files are log files that contain event logs generated by Microsoft Operating System Kernel. These log files include application and system-level errors, warnings, and other events data.Do I need to keep ETL files? ›
Keeping ETL files is not necessary. You don't have to keep ETL files around. If you have a lot of them, it may cost you some time to figure out where logging should be turned on (and what should be turned off). Most ETL files are protected or exist in protected directories.What is Outlook data file corruption? ›
Outlook data file corruption usually occurs when the file grows larger and exceeds the recommended size limit. According to Microsoft, an Outlook data file of 10 GB or smaller size provides decent Outlook performance on most hardware.