Rebuilding a damaged database that exceeded size limit

This is a tip provided on the Macintosh News and Information List (Mac-L) list . It’s specifically for Entourage X, but the process might be useful for other versions of Entourage. Please send your feedback on your results if you try this method by leaving a comment.

Note added April 2009: This applies to any version of Entourage when trying to rebuild. The more space you have the more likely it will be successful. If you are trying to rebuild a database that was recovered from Time Machine, the results can be mixed. It’s worth a try, but I suggest exporting the data and creating a new Identity

User’s database hit the Entourage X 2GB limit and was “corrupted”.

  • Entourage vX on the user’s machine refused to rebuild it.
  • Entourage 2004 on the user’s machine said it was corrupt and refused to
    import it.
  • Entourage 2004 on an Intel iMac said it was corrupt and refused to import

What worked:

  • Copy the user’s database to a Mac G4 booted from a very large HD (500GB)
  • Place the bad identity into the Microsoft User Data folder –> Office X Identities folder
  • Open Entourage X and rebuild
  • Rebuild was successful

Now that the user’s database was rebuilt, the size was further reduced by stripping out attachments from the Sent folder and running the rebuild again. After this the 2GB+ Identity was reduced to 460MB. Now Entourage 2004 was able to import the Entourage X Identity.
Thanks to Peter from New Zealand for posting this fix.

Examining why this worked

  • Users HD could have been formatted Mac OS Standard instead of Mac OS Extended (Also called HFS Plus)
  • User’s HD could have been too full to run rebuild (a rebuild takes twice the amount of space)
  • User’s HD could be too fragmented for the rebuild
  • Not enough free space. See Problems from Insufficient RAM and Free Hard Disk Space

For help stripping out attachments so this problem doesn’t happen to your database see Trim attachments

Recommended: The Mac-L is an excellent talk list to get general Mac help. It’s a moderated list so you won’t get a lot of noise…just help for your Mac problems. It’s also one of the oldest Mac help talk lists around.

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71 comments to Rebuilding a damaged database that exceeded size limit

  • fkhera

    I have Entourage X, running it on mac OS X. I received a message indicating I needed to rebuild and that I should quit all Office programs:
    “Entourage cannot access your data. To attempt to fix the problem, rebuild your database.”
    followed by:
    “To rebuild the database, quit all Microsoft Office programs and try again.”
    I did the “typical” rebuild but when I tried to open Entourage, it repeated these same 2 messages.
    Help! How can I open Entourage?

  • You don’t specifically mention which version of Entourage X you are running. The latest version is 10.1.9. You should also be updated to the latest version of the OS. For Tiger that’s 10.4.10.
    Quitting all Office applications includes Notifications and Messenger.
    I would try the Advanced rebuild for Entourage X. If that doesn’t work then you should try to get access to a large HD to try rebuilding there. Not all databases can be rebuilt.
    See this page for more help rebuilding:

  • Bish

    Running Entourage 2004 on OS X 10.4.9. Received the following error message on one Entourage mailvox:
    “Entourage cannot access your data. To attempt to fix the problem, rebuild your database.”
    After clicking OK and then “Rebuild Database,” I get the following message: “An error occurred while attempting to rebuild your database. An I/O error occurred.”

  • An I/O error almost always means disk damage. Try verifying your database with Disk Utility.

  • Cthack

    Using Entourage x, my database just hit 2 gigs and it wants me to rebuild the database before it allows me to access my account. Both typical and advanced rebuild failed due to a read/write error -40. No change after Disk Utility verifies HD. Is there anyway to access that Database and why does it corrupt and fail at 2 gigs (this is the 3rd time in 4 years)?

  • dianer

    Error -40 is a positioning error (tried to position before start of file). This might indicate file system corruption. Try running Apple’s Disk Utility: First Aid and repairing the disk till it shows clean.
    This might be a sign of early drive failure. Be sure you backup all of your data.
    I highly suggest you upgrade to Office 2004. There are some amazing deals from Microsoft.
    Links to promotions:
    1) Super Suite Deal: (upgrades to full version) If you acquire a qualifying Microsoft® Office 2004 for Mac product listed below between November 1, 2007 and January 14, 2008 you are eligible to receive Microsoft® Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition for the cost of shipping and handling ($6.99 US/ $10.00 CDN), plus applicable taxes
    2) Technology Guarantee program: The Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Technology Guarantee program allows customers who purchase an edition of Office 2004 for Mac to receive an edition of Office 2008 for the cost of shipping, handling and applicable tax. This offer is valid for products purchased between September 25th, 2007 and March 31st, 2008.
    Note, the Super Suite Deal has different dates. If you purchased Office 2004 before the Nov. 1 date, then you could only use the technology guarantee coupon.

  • MaryKay

    I am using an iMac with mac OS10. I am having a problem with Microsoft Entourage. After I read a few emails I get an error -192 message and it freezes, so I force quit it, and then it opens and I carry on until the message appears again. I have rebuilt the database, typical and advanced by holding down the option key and launching but still have the problem. I have also switched the names in the address book. Any ideas?

  • dianer

    See this page for help with error -192:
    Error Page

  • julie

    I use Entourage for my work email and I reached the limit. I have OSX and I was prompted to rebuild the database, which I did (a typical rebuild), then received an error message that it couldn’t be restored. I then tried an advanced rebuild and that didn’t work. What do you I do. Any help would be really appreciated.

  • Diane Ross

    Do you have a large drive to try the rebuild? Did you upgrade Entourage X? If not upgrading might allow Entourage to rebuild. You must use the 10.1.2 updater from Mactopia to get that 4 GB size plus warnings. The earliest release version of Entourage X did not have those features. Regardless, it is advised that you should update in any case.
    I replied to you personally with the option to contact me to try the rebuild on my large drive. I have been successful in getting the data from Entourage X Identities.

  • Peta Stuart-Hunt

    I have rebuilt my database twice and carried out a hard disk verification and repair and when I come to rebuilt again the report says there’s still a problem with the database.
    Any ideas?
    Am using a Powerbook G4 running OSX 10.4.11 and Entourage 2004

  • Diane Ross

    Before you go any further, if you have an Identity that will open, make a copy in the Finder. As long as you have a database that will open, your data can be saved. Often during the rebuild process things can go wrong and you end up losing your data. This is added insurance giving your the option to try different approaches.
    1.Were you having problems that cause you to rebuild, or did you just start getting error messages? See this link for possible options.
    2. Often a rebuild will not clear out all the problems. In this situation, you need to manually move your data. your data into a new Identity.
    Without more details on symptoms and your physical drive space, it’s hard to give further suggestions.
    BTW, how much hard drive space did you have when you tried the rebuild?

  • Bill

    WOWSERS! Thank you so much for your info here. My Office X was beginning to mess up badly, and wouldn’t do a database rebuild, so I bought Office 2008. However, that wouldn’t import my messages, so I ended up reading everything here, and finally got it to work by using the MBOX method. It took me all day — I have a LOT of emails, folders, sub-folders, etc. — but it DID work.
    Thanks for your time you put into this blog – what a blessing.

  • Diane Ross

    I glad the blog helped you. That’s our goal! Enjoy Entourage 2008! Have you discovered the Favorite’s Bar yet?

  • Thanks for your response. I have ended up paying for a Mac guru to come in and sort things out with regard to my corrupt d/b.
    However – this info may be useful to others who don’t already know it – a key factor of the problem occuring in the first place is apparently that my d/b was at 3.92GB and the Entourage limit is 4GB – it was overloaded and unhappy and hence decided to call it quits!
    Thanks again.

  • Nina

    Hi. I am running Office 2008 on a Macbook Pro. I think I corrupted my database when I was backing up yesterday and now it wont open. It tells me to rebuild, but when I try that, I get an error right away. I have a formerly backed up database I could use, but not sure how to do that–just drag it over? My database is approaching 5 gb, so that might be the problem too. Thanks for any help.

  • Diane Ross

    Move your Microsoft User Data folder in Documents to the desktop. Open Entourage and it will create a new MUD folder with a new blank Identity named “Main” by default. Does Entourage open in this new blank Identity? if yes, try moving your Identity from the folder on the desktop back. It’s OK to let it overwrite. Does it open OK now?
    If you do need to replace your Identity, you can drag it back. Drag the entire Identity folder not just he database file.
    The size should not be a problem unless you are really low on drive space. In the Activity Monitor you can check free space under the Disk Usage tab. You need a minimum of 10% for free space. If you are getting close to that you would need to archive data to free up space.

  • John

    Hi, When i opened up my email a few days ago it prompted me to rebuild my database. Whilst rebuilding when it gets to stage 4, copying the database, an error comes up stating ‘An error occurred while attempting to rebuild your database’.
    My mac is running OS 10.5.6 and I have 165 GB disk space and I’m using Entourage 2008
    Any advise would be very appreciated.

  • This usually indicates your database is too damaged to rebuild.
    Entourage 2008 users that have recently imported their Identity into Entourage 2008 have found they could not rebuild. The solution is to move your data manually to a new Identity in Entourage. Once in a newly created database, they found Entourage to be very stable.
    Note: Always make a copy before rebuilding. Even though Entourage makes a backup, if things go wrong, your original Identity can be too corrupted to open. As long as you have an Identity that will open you can salvage your data.
    How to manually move your data.

  • Fred

    A friend of mine have the unfortunate idea of using Entourage for its email.
    When his mailbox hit 2Gb, it was declared corrupted. When he tried to “verify” it, he got a “out of memory error”, and when he want to “rebuild” it, he gets an I/O error (-40).
    I copied the identity over a thumb drive, and I tried to recover it, using Entourage 2004 (v 11.2.1). Well, it does scan the file 3 time, claims that the recovery is complete, but the resulting mailbox only have a “greeting” message dated today.
    Any idea ? Or can anybody find the great mind at Microsoft that decided that 1) an undecipherable binary format was the way to go for storing users mailbox, 2) ignoring error codes that occurs when you write over a 2Gb file was the way to go and 3) transaction management was overrated — and hit him firmly on the head with Jim Grey’s Transaction Processing (ISBN:1558601902) ?

  • An I/O error almost always means disk damage. Error -40 is a positioning error (tried to position before start of file). This might indicate file system corruption. Try running Apple’s Disk Utility: First Aid and repairing the disk till it shows clean.
    You don’t mention what version of Entourage your friend uses, but if it’s not 2004 then it’s not going to work. If you friend was using Entourage X, then he probably didn’t update so that he would get the warning that his database was full and extend it from 2 to 4GB.
    If you still have the original database BEFORE rebuild was used, then it’s possible to recover. I’ve been very successful in recovering Entourage X databases under these situations.

  • Fred

    Thanks for the answer, Diane.
    I checked: he was using Office X v 10.0.0 (1309). It looks like he never updated, so it crashed when it hit the 2Gb limit.
    The -40 error is a seek error, which is probably due to the fact that numbers above 2^31 are negative in signed arithmetic, hence the “tried to position before the start of file error”. Of course, I checked the disk as soon as I saw I/O errors, but I don’t think there are any: it looks like Office X 10.0.0 reports seek problem as a generic Input/Output error.
    The database I have is a copy from his database AFTER he tried to recover it using Entourage X 10.0.0, but BEFORE I tried anything with 2004.
    I also tried EntourAid, but the demo version claim to recover 20 emails, but generates a bad mbox file (it does not even start with the famous “From:” line)
    So, I guess my next step is to get my hands on an updated Entourage X and try to recover the mail with that…
    Thanks again for the reply. Really.

  • You need to update his Office X. There is only one updater needed. Be sure to restart after updating.
    Microsoft Office v. X for Mac 10.1.9 Update
    Before opening Entourage, move the current Microsoft User Data folder to the desktop and let Entourage open in a new Microsoft User Data folder. Quit Entourage. Next drag back the Identity folder (not the MUD folder). Hold Option key down when launching Entourage and select to do the Advanced Rebuild. You have to watch in the Activity Monitor to see when the process is complete. The progress bar never shows completion.
    All this assumes there is lots of free space on his drive. Read Rebuilding a damaged database that exceeded size limit. If you run into trouble, I recover Entourage X database all the time. Let me know how your rebuild goes. So far I’m at 100% success rate.

  • Fred

    Add one to the numerous successes you had so far!
    Opening the mailbox with an upgraded Office X worked like a charm. No need for the recovery panel, or anything. It looks like the upgraded version contains code to deal with exactly the situation, as the first open took some time.
    For the record, the problem was with a mailbox created with a French Office X, but I corrected it with an English one by simply changing the name of the 5 items in the identity folder.
    So, again, thank you very much for the guidance provided.

  • Glad to hear it was that simple. Now, get the unofficial workaround for daylight saving time. Entourage X wasn’t upgraded for the change over a couple of years ago.
    Unofficial Daylight Saving Time Workaround for Entourage X
    If your friend want’s to upgrade and doesn’t need Exchange or Automator actions, you can get the Home & Student version at reduced prices now. Amazon has it in the US for $109.99.
    Amazon link for Home & Student version

  • Diane (or anyone!) – hoping/praying you can help me.
    I am running Entourage 2008 – v12.0.0 (I have tried many times to upgrade to 12.0.1 with no success on a side note).
    Today I suddenly got the dreaded message others have above (“Entourage cannot access your data …”. The rebuild failed on the 5th and final stage. I am not sure what to do but its going to be very bad if I cant get this data back. Any thing I can try?
    thanks so much

  • For anyone following along, Mike and I are working to upgrade his Identity. For anyone that needs additional help, I offer my services as a consultant. Fees start at $35 for rebuilding.
    As described in the article, you need the drive space to do this. I can offer guidance to do this or you can send me your database and I can do it for you.

  • Cello

    This is a great site — I’m hoping for some advice.
    I use entourage 2008 and have a huge datafile ~13gb. I’ve had some warnings about a damaged database so repaired the database and archived 12 months of messages. Immediately following this, Entourage wouldn’t load.
    I deleted the preferences as posted here, and then tried rebuilding a couple of times. I eventually got Entourage to load and everything seems fine. However, trying to export to .rge gives an error. So based on Diane’s tips, I’m pretty sure I have corruption.
    My data are stored on an exchange server so I could just erase the data folder and start fresh. However, I would like to keep my categories and tasks if possible, especially the categories. How can I do this? Any suggestions would be gratefully received.

  • Yes, you do have corruption. If you cant export as .rge file this is a sign your database has problems.
    If you have an Identity that will open you can take a screenshot of your categories. If there are special colors you have selected, you’ll have to open each one and select “other” then use the RGE sliders to get the color number.(It’s the second one on the left.) Take a screenshot to easily recreate it.
    Paul Berkowitz’s Export-Import scripts ($20) can export categories. It does work in Leopard. It’s only the “unlock all” script that is broken.
    If you are interested, I can work with you as a consultant to get your data out. I’ve sent you a personal message to follow up. Check for subject “Entourage consultant help.”

  • Shane Stewart

    Hi Diane.
    Thank you so much for writing this blog. You have just saved us from impending disaster of losing all of our emails/contacts. Upgrading to 10.1.9 allowed us to repair the database file as per your post on Feb 22.
    It is astounding that Microsoft could have written such a flaw into Entourage. Thank god there are some IT guru’s such as yourself to help the little people out.
    Thanks again.

  • Thank you for this forum. WHen I go on help sites and indexes especially Microsoft the help is almost always missing for my problem. You guys saved my butt with this stupid corrupted file issue and I thank you!

  • Jens

    Hi Diane,
    I have a large database (9.5 GB) and when I try to open entourage, it tells me that I have to rebuild the database. I get to stage 4/5 and it tells me I have an error. I have tried this numerous times with the same result.
    So I am left only with my current database which I cannot open. Does that mean, my database is too damaged and never can be rebuilt???
    I’ve got a 300 GB HD and the free disc space is about 100 GB.
    Please Help!!!

  • It’s possible that you could rebuild with more space. I have a drive with 500 GB free that I use for recovery.
    Using the original copy of the database has the best chance of recovery. Always work off a copy.

  • Barbara

    Hello everyone,
    Am really hoping someone can help. I have a similar problem as above. My Entourage crashed today! Every time I try opening it says it can’t access it and I then go to try and verify the info and rebuild and I can’t. It gives me the error “an error occurred while attempting to rebuild your database.”
    I have 160GB hard drive available, though i know my Entourage DB is HUGE. I keep ALL my important emails from work and personal.
    On a good note, I do back up my emails periodically, but not every day sadly. However, I can’t even open Entourage to import my old emails.
    How can I go about this? I am running Entourage 2008 version 12.2.0 and my laptop is a Macboob Pro OS X version 10.5.8.
    Any help is appreciated!!!!

  • How big is your database? It’s possible a larger drive would rebuild. I do rebuilds for clients on a drive with 500 GB free.
    If you want to open Entourage and just start with a new Identity, move or rename your Main Identity. This will force Entourage to open in a new blank Identity.

  • David Laverty

    Diane – I need to rebuild my Entourage database but do not have enough room on the hardrive. The database has grown to 23 gigs. Can a database be rebuilt on my external 300 gig drive, and if so, how can I do it? I have a PowerBook G4 with 10.3.9, and this is Entourage 2004.

  • PGD

    Hello Diane,
    First of all, thanks for your help and the time you put in to help others.
    This is my issue, Running Entourage 2004 on a 235GB HD (112GB free) PowerMac OS 10.5.8, a few months ago, I noticed some emails being grayed out by a gray bar, 2 or 3 lines high (I know this is database corruption) I cannot see the messages or delete them. I have rebuilt the database, and although it says to have do it “successfully”, I get the same gray bar on the rebuilt identity. I have also compacted, etc. Still having the same issue.
    In the MUD folder, inside Office 2004 Identities, I have 8 folders, Main Identity, and 7 other Main Identity [Backed up xx-xx-2009 xx.xx]
    Under the first Main Identity folder I have:
    Database Today’s date, 2.68GB
    Database (rebuild) 8/17/2009 1.33GB
    Database (rebuild)1 8/17/2009 1.33GB
    Database (rebuild)2 8/17/2009 1.94GB
    Database (rebuild)3 Yesterday 1.78GB
    Database (rebuild)4 Yesterday 1.78GB
    Database (rebuild)5 Yesterday 2.35GB
    Database (rebuild)6 Yesterday 1.73GB
    I don’t know how to handle this situation since I am tired of keeping these messages “out of sight” so that Entourage doesn’t crash. Any ideas??

  • Rebuilding does not always fix the problems. Often all it does is allow you to open Entourage and salvage the data. For directions see:
    How to manually move your data.
    It’s easiest to start with the .rge export, but I suspect it will fail. You can then try one item at a time to export using export as .rge. This way you’ll know where the corruption is located. If it’s in messages, use the export as MBOX script. This script will fail on the folder with corruption. You will have to divide and manually drag the subfolders to the desktop to find the corrupted files.
    This can be a bit difficult for some users. I do private consulting where I guide you through the process, or you send me the Identity and I fix it for you. You can reply using the comment and I’ll contact you off list if you need help.
    You can go ahead and delete all the older database rebuilds from August. I would wait on the newer ones in case Entourage fails completely while you are salvaging your data.
    Good luck!

  • You can do this on your other drive but you will need to install the OS and Office first. However, I would manually move out of this Identity into a new one if it will open. In the end you’ll get a really clean Identity. Rebuilding does not fix everything.
    If Entourage will open, make a copy. You never know when it will go belly up and as long as you have a copy that will open you can get your data out.
    I just posted instruction to another user on how to manually move to a new Identity. Check my last comment for some tips to use the manual export.
    How to manually move your data.

  • Alicia

    you have some amazing information. I hope you can help me recover my friend’s email.
    He was using Entourage X (10.1.4) and the hard drive failed. I have a backup of his MUD folder, but when I try replace the identity on the new computer (I’ve tried both the Entourage X, Entourage 2004 and Entourage 2008) it says the database needs to be rebuilt – and I have not been able to successfully rebuild it. The database is 2.7GB.
    I also tried importing the Entourage X identity into the newer versions (with brand new, clean identities) and either it says it’s done it and there’s NOTHING imported, OR it imports the signatures, rules and even the folder structure – but does not import the messages.
    Here are my questions:
    1) I am trying an ADVANCED rebuild. You mention to watch the Activity Monitor to know when it’s done. What am I watching to stop – the Database Daemon or Entourage?
    2) When there is no Activity (from either the DD or Entourage), do I “CANCEL” out of that process (since there’s no other option in the ‘preparing to rebuild box’) to get back to Entourage and check to see what was recovered?
    3) If we were to hire you to rebuild the databse (a VERY attractive idea at this point ; ) ), do you rebuild it to the point that the original file structure (where he stores his mail in Entourage) be preserved? Or are you just extracting the messages (like EntourAid)?
    thank you so much for this blog and your expertise!

  • I replied to privately. Check from my message.

  • Erick

    I tried using both scripts you mentioned above to export my folders from entourage 2008 as I keep getting database corruption errors, and when I rebuild I loose some data every time, but when I use either of the scripts they both only export about 8 months of email from my inbox (28,400 emails at 2.15GB) and no other folders. I’m just wondering if I’m the only one experiencing this.
    My entire database is about 22.3GB with lots of subfolders. What would be the most efficient way to export them, create a new identity and re-import so I can resolve the database crashing I’m experiencing?
    Thanks in advance.

  • Recovering Entourage data is not always a simple task. A 22 GB database is
    big and more complicated by the size. I can give you a couple of tips, but
    you might need more than I can offer via comments.
    1. No folder should be over 2GB in size. Large folders when subdivided
    will often export as smaller folders.
    2. When you get a folder that will not export all messages, you have to
    continue to subdivide the messages until you can identify the bad messages.
    3. As long as your Identity will open, you can salvage your data. It’s
    best to make a copy of this Identity in case it goes belly up during the
    process of recovery. Having the original BEFORE you tried to rebuild is my
    best option to recover. Each time you rebuild you can introduce even more
    I have been able to help users via screen sharing and phone consult to do
    this process, but in some cases, you’ll need to send me your data for

  • Jeff

    Got the “Fatal Damon” error tonight.
    Tried to verify database integrity but failed.
    Then tried to rebuild but got:
    “An error occurred while attempting to rebuild your database.”

  • Do you have the recommended extra free space?

  • Tim Hailey

    I have the dreaded “error while rebuilding…”, 4/5 deal. I’m running 2008 on a MacBrook Pro. My Database is 8+ gb. My last back-up was too long ago: October! My e-mails are important, but so are my contacts and group mailing lists. I’ve tried lots of tactics all day to no avail. Do I have any options?
    Thanks, Tim.

  • You probably don’t have enough free disk space. Buy an external drive, install the OS and Office and try rebuilding. If you don’t have the time, I work with clients to recover their files.
    Use this opportunity to start a good backup strategy.
    Options to backup

  • Cory Foster

    I’m trying to fix this problem for my employer…running OS X (10.5.8) with Entourage 10.1.6. His database is at 2.48.
    He gets the message that the database cannot be accessed and to rebuild. I’ve tried every suggestion here to no avail. I can’t get his identity open, and the rebuilds I’ve tried (both typical and advanced) simply freeze (no action on the progress bar). I’m using only 56.81/175.76 GB, so I’ve got that required 10% free…I don’t know what else to try!
    Any suggestions? I’m in a little bit of a time crunch as we’re a non-profit organization that relies heavily on email correspondence…which we no longer have!
    Any help you can provide would be most appreciated.

  • Obviously, you didn’t get the gist of this article. You need much more space than the 10% free. In addition every time you rebuild you are making the problem worse. You need to go back to the original Identity and make a copy. Then try rebuilding on a bigger drive. I do this for clients if you can’t get a drive with enough space.

  • Oliver

    Hi Diane,
    many thanks for this very enlightening blog, I haven’t found a solution offered here, though, for the situation that I am encountering at the moment:
    I am running Entourage 12.0.0 on a MacBook Pro with OS X 10.6.3. Entourage freezes 3-5 seconds after opening (with our without holding the Shift-key). Therefore, I am unable to do any exporting or rebuilding from within the program. Dragging the Microsoft Main Identity folder to the desktop and trying to open the database from there will only result in Entourage opening and freezing as described above. I was able to verify and rebuild the database with the Database Utility. I can’t switch to a new identity, though, to test the database, since Entourage keeps on freezing shortly after the start. I’d appreciate any help from your side.

  • Before we can even look at the database issue, you need to upgrade. The 12.0.0 release was still very buggy. In addition on Snow Leopard you need to remove the older Microsoft fonts that have been replaced with newer versions in Snow Leopard.
    Step 1) Move the Microsoft User Data folder to the desktop
    Step 2) Upgrade Office. It should first upgrade the MAU, then you’ll need the 12.1.0 and 12.2.3 and finally the 12.2.4 updaters. Follow the steps here to upgrade. Restarting between each is important.
    Install & Update Office
    Step 3) Follow the steps here to removed fonts:
    Microsoft fonts to delete after installing Snow Leopard (includes help deleting font caches)
    Step 4) Open Entourage and let it create a new Microsoft User Data folder. If all goes without a problem, then you can drag from the desktop your Main Identity and replace the new blank one.
    It’s possible the import from your old Identity could be an issue. Let me know if you still have problems and give details like:
    What type of account? (POP, IMAP, Exchange)
    What version of Office previously used, or did you move from a PC?

  • El Chupko

    Hi Diane,
    a few qustions for you:
    I’m having iMac7,1 with MacOS 10.5.8 and Entourage 2008.
    The database is 32GB big and it’s stuck on trying to rebuild.
    Free space is 122GB on ‘Macintosh disk – extended’!
    What to do, to get database again in function!
    tnx a lot

  • This is a huge database. I’m not confident that even with 500 GB free that it would rebuild.
    Was it 32GB before you tried to rebuild? This sounds like a rebuild that went wrong and the original was merged with the copy. If that’s the case, all data is lost.
    Do you have a backup copy?

  • Phil

    Hi Diane
    Thanks for your helpful info. I have a 5.95gb database but not much space on my HD.
    When trying to do a rebuild it stops at Step 4 (quite close to the end!) and just says “An error occurred while attempting to rebuild your database).
    I have formatted an old extternal HD that I have and it is showing about 465gb of free space. I presume this should be enough for doing the rebuild? I tried earlier on my internal HD which had about 30gb space and it didn’t work.
    When you say ‘Copy the user’s database to a Mac G4 booted from a very large HD (500GB)’ at the beginning please could you explain this in slightly more detail if you don’t mind.
    Does this mean installing the OS again but on the external drive and then installing Office again, also on the external HD?
    I ma not sure about this part of it, but am keen to restore all of my emails.
    Please could you also let me know how much you would charge to do this for me – Ideally I’d like to keep all existing folder structures etc if possible.
    If you are still providing this service please can you also advise how long it would take to do (approx)
    Many thanks again

  • Hi Phil,
    I sent you a message privately to go over some of your questions on my services.
    Yes, you do have to install the OS and Office in order to rebuild. Once Office is installed, you drag over your Identity and replace the default Main Identity that was created.

  • Lisa

    Need to hire you to rebuild Entourage database. not sure if previous comment went through,.

  • I sent you a private message about rebuilding your Identity. If you don’t see if, you can reply using comments. I approve all comments before posting so you can include your contact info.

  • DonB

    Column sounds familiar. On a MBPro 10.5.8 (9L30) system w/108GB HD free:
    An Office 7.23GB database that’s been getting corrupted more often lately was normal rebuilt to step 5 progress bar all the way right and appeared to hang over a period of 6h 47 min, then returned a message saying an error was encountered. The Database (Rebuild) in main identity is now 6.9 GB. Saved database utility error report says (portions):
    Error Signature:
    Exception: EXC_BAD_ACCESS
    Date/Time: 2010-07-27 16:42:11 -0700
    Application Name: Microsoft Database Utility
    Application Bundle ID:
    Application Signature: MDr1
    Application Version:
    Crashed Module Name: Microsoft Database Utility
    Crashed Module Version:
    Crashed Module Offset: 0x0001c06e
    Blame Module Name: Microsoft Database Utility
    Blame Module Version:
    Blame Module Offset: 0x0001c06e
    Application LCID: 1033
    Extra app info: Reg=en Loc=0x0409
    [snipped log]
    So, questions about how to proceed:
    1. Is this a problem amenable to rebuilding on a larger HD? If not, what to do? What is the problem?
    2. Should Office update to 12.2.5 be done independently of working on the database (by relocating the main identity and doing rebuild with clean virgin identity)? If a manual import is indicated would I want to do a Office reinstall to later V first?
    3. Is it worth an effort to rebuild the database from 12.2.5 on the same HD (w/108 GB free)?
    4. How do you know a rebuilt or backup database is truly devoid of corruption?
    5. Is there a way to determine what message(s) are corrupted without doing the manual import? And then just trash them from within Entourage.
    Also, what is in the database to make it so large? Does it include copies of sent attachments or what?

  • 1) As the article describes, rebuilding on a larger drive works. I do this all the time for clients that do not have enough room to rebuild.
    2) Updating Entourage to 12.2.5 will not affect your rebuild process, but you do need to update.
    3) Updating to 12.2.5 will not change the fact that you do not have enough room to rebuild. You need to work off the original Identity BEFORE the rebuild for best results.
    4) First I never trust that a rebuilt database is free from corruption. I always export all data and create a new Identity. Then I run stress tests on the database. 1) export as .rge file-should export without an error and 2) export all messages as MBOX files using a script. The script will fail on a folder with corruption. Export folders as MBOX files (includes subfolders)
    5) No!
    Your database includes all attachments. Messages are not usually big files, but the attachments especially photos are big.

  • DonB

    Thanks for the response Diane. I’ve got a bootable FW HD with >500GB free space to work with, with Tiger on it (which I assume isn’t an issue even though my broken database was made in Leopard). I’ll have to do an Office or Entourage install on it w/updates first – is it important for the other apps besides Entourage to be installed too? Or here’s a big speculation: is it possible to merely put the MS Database Utility and the offending Database or Main Identity folder on a big drive and do the rebuild?
    A. When you say to try the rebuilding on a larger HD “working off the original identity BEFORE the rebuild” I assume you mean the Database in the Main Identity and not the Database (Rebuild) file – correct? & not a previous backup of the Database – unless one’s willing to abandon all emails since then.
    Also, is it true that after a rebuild, Entourage will be using the Database (Rebuild) file and ignore the original Database, allowing us to toss that original (if the rebuild works OK)? Otherwise it seems the original Database file is effectively just the most recent backup database.
    B. Is the Advanced Rebuild any better for addressing these problems than the Normal Rebuild?
    C. So it seems a good idea for keeping Database size manageable over the longer term would be to insert the file name of any attachments you’re sending in the body of the message. Then later in Entourage you can Remove the attachments from your saved sent emails and still have a usable link to the original attachment – if its still anywhere in one’s HD or archive. I suppose MS’s original idea was to database a copy of all attachments sent out in case you did delete it elsewhere – even if this meant file duplication & HD bloat. It would have been nice to have a pref so we could choose whether to retain sent attachments in the database.
    D. What are the most common causes of database and email message corruption? Anything avoidable? Is it possible a original incoming message is corrupted and causing a database corruption problem? Is it associated with attachments in some way? Is there anything, aside from maybe keeping Office updated, that the user can do to minimize corrupted databases?

  • The OS shouldn’t be an issue. I’ve never heard of dragging over the Database Utility, but it certainly won’t hurt to try. If you have to install Office, just do the entire suite it’s just as easy as trying to custom install.
    The BEFORE rebuild copy should be named something like Main Identity [Backed up xxxxx]. If you’re seeing database (rebuild) inside the Main Identity folder this tells me the rebuild did not complete. This says the rebuild failed.
    There is no Advanced rebuild in Entourage 2008.
    C) There is a script that removes attachments and leaves a link.
    See the Favorites Script page
    D) I get asked this a lot, but most database files I recover all have different individual causes. Often the message I find that’s corrupt is a small plain text message. Your only defense if a good backup strategy.

  • DonB

    I tried the spartan utility setup to rebuild on the big HD and, after asking for & my supplying a # of other Office folder resources, it wouldn’t launch. Probably other unidentifiable missing parts since there was no error report at that point. So off to the full package install and run rebuild from there……
    BUT, upon running the 12.2.5 combo update on top of the 12.1.0 it quits at the intro stage with an error message saying the package_updatable file quit, thread 0 crashed, error: EXEC_BREAKPOINT (0X0006). This quit file evidently is a resource in the Office 2008 12.2.5 Update.mpkg. So I report it and the updater comes back like nothing happened. Really???! OK or not? I wonder if the config is offending: MDD w/fully updated Tiger on a large FW400 boot HD. Virgin install of Office & SP1.
    Another Idea: I’ve got a string of backed up identities, evidently its a good log of exactly when I previously had to rebuild the database. Maybe a shortcut way of backing up the identity files is to start a Database Utility rebuild, then cancel it after it’s made a set of backup files in the Office 2008 Identities folder….

  • I’m sorry, but your idea about starting database utility isn’t clear at all.
    As to your install on the other drive, use “Remove Office” then install AGAIN.
    Steps to re-install Office

  • DonB

    OK, I meant that I tried the tactic of moving MS Database Utility (DU) & the damaged 7GB Database file to be rebuilt to a portable HD w/>500GB free space, and that didn’t work. At first DU threw up errors for want of various Office resources and eventually wouldn’t launch after they were all installed, so that approach doesn’t work for some unknown reason. Maybe fonts, but that’s another distraction & I gave up on it.
    So, I updated Tiger on the portable HD, installed Office 12.2.5, got all that working fine (took several tries for Office, with successful help from some pages RE on this site), opened Entourage and it installed a new empty Main Identity & initial database. Restart. I moved the broken Database with the other files in its identity folder into that new Main Identity. Still 544GB of free HD space. Opened Entourage and started Rebuild. That was two+ days ago…. Still rebuilding, very very very slowly – or so it appears.
    Rebuild went normally & timely thru first 4 steps and progress bar got all the way over to the right of step 5, and that’s where it sits. This is same place where it stopped when I originally tried to rebuild it on the Intel MBPro and DU gave a ‘can’t fix the damaged database’ error message. Your guidance at that time included ‘not enough HD free space’ on that MBPro.
    Note the portable HD is FW connected to & booted a MDD w2GB RAM. Activity Monitor shows on-going high levels of CPU usage (typ 80-95%) by DU, ongoing periodic read/write activity, DU using 726MB RAM + 2.9GB virtual & varying amounts of free RAM. & 544 GB free on the HD. So it appears its not hung, just slowly grinding away.
    So, question now is: Is this setup for rebuild correct & effective? Is the slow rebuild indicating a failing rebuild, the MDD has too little capacity for this job, or ??? Can this rebuilding be improved on, eg, installing Leopard on the portable HD and running it off the Intel MBPro for more processing/RAM capability? Is there any way to tell how close I really am to having this slow rebuild completed?
    I am rapidly running out of time to tackle this problem, not to mention any stress testing. This isn’t the first time this database has been flakey so I suspect rebuilding won’t clean it completely.
    I loved your idea of the script to strip attachments & leave a link on sent mail, but that’s a ways off at this point.

  • I suspect your older computer and low RAM is a good part of the problem. All I can say is let it complete. There is no way to know how much time is left.
    You can watch in the Activity Monitor to see if the utility and the Microsoft Database daemon are still running.
    You can always run a stress test later.

  • DonB

    Maybe so, but I’ve run out of time. I need files caught in that damaged database.
    Are you still doing this for people? Email me off-line.

  • Hi Don, I sent you an email off list with details on contacting me to recover your Entourage database.

  • JustinS

    Hi Diane,
    Using Entourage x and my database just hit 2 gigs
    Both typical and advanced rebuild failed due to a read/write error -40
    Ran disk utility on install DVD which now runs clean on my start up HD.
    Still same problem!
    Is there any way the database can be retrived?
    Thanks in advance,
    2 x 2.66 ghz Dual Core Intel Xeon
    OSX 10.4.11
    Memory 5GB

  • I see two issues here:
    1) You most likely did not upgrade Entourage X to allow for the 4GB limit.
    Microsoft Office v. X for Mac 10.1.9 Update release date 1/5/2007 (This update includes all of the improvements released in all previous Office v. X updates.)
    It’s possible once you update, you will be able to rebuild IF you have enough free disk space. I do rebuilds for clients so let me know if you need help.
    2) You could have bad blocks on your drive.
    Error -40 is a positioning error (tried to position before start of file). This might indicate file system corruption. Try running Apple’s Disk Utility: First Aid and repairing the disk till it shows clean.

  • JustinS

    Hi Diane,
    Thanks so much for you fast response!!
    I installed the update (as you advised) and the Main Identity was recognised and read with no problems (no need or request to rebuild the database) I guess this shows that the -40 error can purely be a result of reaching the 2 gig limit and not necessarily an indication of file system corruption.
    I’ll make sure I do better email housekeeping in future.
    Many thanks,

  • Hi Justin,
    Glad to hear that all it took was the update. Sometimes when Entourage hits that limit, it’s toast.