This article is going to focus on the issue where your folders have the generic name “Recovered Folder” after rebuilding.
This is a new procedure, it’s too soon to know if this will work for everyone. It’s also possible this option will work for other unsuccessful rebuild issues as well. Please leave a comment to let us know if it works for you. (See addendum at end for other options it will recover. Check back for additional updates)
Updating article June 1, 2013. This procedure works well with all types of database issues.
If you see the recovered folder issue shown in the image, you are first grateful you got your data back, but if you have hundreds or even thousands of folders you are then faced with organizing and naming your folders. This can consume hours of your time. Luckily, there is a way to recover your folder names.
- A minimum of 300-500 GB of free space on your drive
- This process requires you to revert to Office for Mac 2011 v14.1.0
- The original corrupted identity not one that has been rebuilt resulting in the Recovered Folder issue.
- Lots of patience
If you don’t have the free space, patience or expertise, you can contact me for recovery. As long as you have the hardware and time, this is very doable by most users.
Many users will think that the amount of free space required is excessive. Like Entourage recovery, it does take enormous amounts of free space. The size of the Identity, the amount of corruption, fragmentation on drive, RAM are all factors that will determine how much space is required to rebuild. I suspect many will go ahead and try this when they don’t have the free space and if it does work, please let us know and give your details so others can determine what’s feasible for their recovery. Be sure you are working off a copy. If the rebuild fails on a drive without enough free space, it could damage your data even further.
Outlook user, Rod reported the following:
My database is 12.7GB and I had 120GB of free space on my hard drive, but that failed to recover. It even failed to rebuild a non-corrupted identity. And so I freed up some space and tried again with 200GB of free space on my hard drive, but that failed too. I freed up even more space and tried again with 310GB of free space on my hard drive, and that succeeded to build. (WIERD BUT VERY TRUE)
The amount of RAM does not seem to be an issue as long as the free space is available. I do recommend that you do not try to use your computer or have other applications open when doing this process. I did this on a partition with Snow Leopard and 2GB RAM. Lion/Mountain Lion would require more RAM than Snow Leopard. I suggest a minimum of 4GB for Lion or Mountain Lion.
Determine if you are going to use your main drive (internal) or an external drive. Space considerations will be key in this selection. If you don’t have an external, now is a good time to get one. After this test you can use it to clone your drive and/or create a Time Machine backup.
Option 1) Use your computer’s drive
It’s recommended that you have a backup of your drive before proceeding. There is always a chance you will make a mistake that would damage or delete your data.
1) Rename or compress Microsoft Office 2011 in Applications. After compressing, drag the Microsoft Office 2011 folder to the trash.
2) Install Office 2011 using a v14.0.0 or 14.1.0 installer. STOP at v14.1.0! Do NOT update further. Manually turn off “Check for updates” during this process.
3) Rename your “Microsoft User Data” folder to “Microsoft User Data OLD”. Open Outlook and it will create a new 14.1 Identity. Rename “Identity 1”.
4) Drag your corrupt Identity from “Microsoft User Data OLD” folder to the new Microsoft User Data folder > Office 2011 Identities folder.
5) You should have two Identities now: “Identity 1” and your corrupt Identity.
6) Quit Outlook
Option 2) Use an external drive
If you have an external drive with enough free space, I found this to be the easier & safer option. If you make a mistake using this option, you’ve only lost your time.
If you don’t have an external drive, I suggest the Seagate Backup Plus or Seagate GoFlex USB 3.0 drives:
If you have an older Mac, the USB 3.0 uses the same USB 2.0 ports. You do get 2.0 speed unless you have a newer Mac with a USB 3.0 port. This drive is not Mac formatted. Is a bit less expensive than the ones marked for Mac use. Just use the Disk Utility or the handy software that comes with the drive to format for the Mac. If you buy through my link, the site will get credit to help us cover expenses.
1) Partition (how to instructions)
2) Install OS X (10.6, 10.7 or 10.8) and update. No need to update Safari etc.
3) Install Office 2011 You will only update to 14.1.0! If recently purchased Office, your installer will most likely be Office 14.2.0, you’ll need to find a 14.0.0 or 14.1.0 installer or contact me to do the recovery for you.
- When you see the option to automatically update or manually update, select manually! After activating you might want to disconnect from the Internet so you get no further update announcements.
4) Drag your corrupt Identity to the Desktop on the external drive.
5) Open Outlook. This creates a new Microsoft User Data folder with a new blank Main Identity. Rename this blank identity to “Identity 1”.
6) Quit Outlook.
7) Drag your corrupt Identity into the Office 2011 Identities folder.
8) You should have two Identities now: “Identity 1” and your corrupt Identity.
9) Quit Outlook
Now that you have Office 2011 v14.1.0 installed on either your computer’s drive or an external drive, follow these steps.
1) Navigate to your corrupt Identity.
- Delete the database file.
- Delete the Database Headers folder
In this example the Identity is named 4.16 Main Identity.
2) Copy (move) the Database Headers folder from Identity 1 to your corrupt Identity.
By copying a clean “Database Headers” folder that has database headers in version 14.1.0 we are tricking Office 14.1.0’s Office Database Utility to thinking that your SP2 identity conforms to its own version and will then attempt to rebuild it.
12) Hopefully, you will receive a message saying that your database was rebuilt successfully. If not, see the links below for other workarounds.
13) Quit the Database Utility.
We’re getting close but a few more steps to go….
14) Open your Identity. Follow these steps:
- Delete your IMAP and Exchange accounts. This deletes the cache files in Outlook. Your data is still on the server. You are left with only data that is “On My Computer”.
- Make sure no folder has more than 2GB of data. That’s approximately 6000-10,000 messages per folder. Usually it’s the Inbox and Sent folders that are over the 2GB limit.
- Under File > Export, select the default action to export all data as .olm file. Save Data File as Recovered OMC.olm on your Desktop.
(Users that are using an external drive will need to drag this file to your internal drive for Step 3.)
- Do you get “Done” at the end or do you get “one or more items failed to export”?
- If you do not get “Done”, this indicates corruption or you have folders that are over the 2GB limit. See Export as .olm file fails to get all data.
- If your log file has a long list of items that failed to export, you can select to use the upgrade process rather than use the .olm file for importing into your new Identity. It’s unclear if the files are actually damaged or if Outlook just fails to export some attachments. If you used an external drive, drag your v1 Identity to your internal drive for the upgrade process.
- The import from .olm file is the “cleanest” option. The upgrade process can fail so be sure you have a backup prior to upgrading.
- Quit Outlook.
We are finished with Office v14.1.0. Now we are ready to revert to Office v14.3.x (or latest version) in Step 3.
If you did Option 1 on your main drive…
- Drag the Microsoft Office 2011 v14.1.0 Identity to the trash.
- Unzip Microsoft Office 2011.
- Verify you are running the latest version. Under Help in the Menu bar, select “Check for Updates”.
- Verify that you did the clean up of folders in the Microsoft User Data folder after SP2 updater. How to
If you did Option 2, on an external drive…
- Boot back into your main drive. Office should already be updated to SP2 or newer.
- Verify you are running the latest version. Under Help in the Menu bar, select “Check for Updates”.
Let’s finish this process….
Option 1: Use the Recovered OMC.olm file
1) Open the Database Utility and create a new Identity. We will NOT be using any previous Identities.
2) Open the new Identity and import your Recovered OMC.olm file.
3) Move all data to their local folders using the instruction in How to move your data to a new Identity
4) Add accounts.
- If you have POP account(s) you might get duplicates if you have preciously selected to “leave on server”. Log into your account in your browser and move all the older messages to a folder you create in webmail. Outlook only downloads from the Inbox.
- Your Exchange and IMAP accounts will download all messages and folders to your new Identity.
Option 2: Use the recovered 14.1 identity as default
1) Open the Database Utility and select the recovered 14.1 Identity as default.
2) Open Outlook and the Identity will go through the upgrade process.
3) Add accounts.
• If you have POP account(s) you might get duplicates if you have preciously selected to “leave on server”. Log into your account in your browser and move all the older messages to a folder you create in webmail. Outlook only downloads from the Inbox.
• Your Exchange and IMAP accounts will download all messages and folders to your new Identity.
This process has not failed to rebuild an Identity that would not rebuild using an SP2 or later identity. You do need a copy of your identity that has not been rebuilt prior to reverting to 14.1 to rebuild. Using a Time Machine copy is best option.
Error 255 for Identity Rebuild – I used this method to recover an Identity that gave Error 255 when trying to rebuild in 14.2.4 SP2. This is not the same Error 255 that you get when Outlook opens then immediately closes. Error 255 only shows in Console log for this situation. The error 255 came up when trying to rebuild an older Identity (it was unclear what version created the Identity)
Error -18000 for Identity Rebuild – This error might be solved by simply having enough free disk space, but reverting to 14.1.0 to rebuild works when having enough free spaced failed.
MIME error – If you rebuild and then try uploading an email from “On My Computer” to an IMAP folder and receive the MIME error, you can use the original Identity to rebuild in 14.1.0 as described here to rebuild without the error.
Thanks to Rob…
This process was discovered by Rob in the UK. I had worked with Rob to recover his data. While we were able to rebuild successfully, his Identity opened with 558 Recovered Folders. Determined to find a fix, thorough persistence and trials of different workarounds, he successfully was able to recover his folder names and has shared his steps with me so I could document and share with all users.
While creating this tutorial, I used another client’s identity with over 2,ooo Recovered folders with successful results. Another user that had a 14GB identity with 5000+ folders, followed the instructions on his external drive and was also successful.