Microsoft Outlook, as we all know, provides more extensive features than most of the other email client applications available in the market. A wide range of users utilizes Outlook to share emails, calendars, and other significant mailbox data items among each other. If you are also using Outlook as the email client, you might need moving your PST files from one location to another. Moving PST from one location to another sometimes leads to unexpected errors like “Cannot read from the source file or disk”.

There might be different causes behind this error, but the most significant cause is the file system mismatch situation. A File System mismatch arises due to the difference in the file system type. Suppose you are using a Windows version 10 on your system, the chances are that your files system is NTFS. For older versions of Windows like 7 or 8, this can be NTFS and FAT32. Systems having FAT32 as the file system, will not be able to handle large-sized files. The file size that a FAT32 system type can handle is limited to 4 Gigabytes. Files larger than the specified file size lead to errors like “Cannot copy or move Outlook .pst” or in some cases, “Cannot read from the source file or disk.”

Apart from this, there might be several other reasons that lead to such errors. We have listed some of the common reasons behind “Cannot read from the source file or disk” error, and some quick troubleshooting techniques to fix this error.

Reasons behind “Cannot read from the source file or disk” error in Outlook

Some of the root causes include:

  1. Outlook is running while copying the PST files
  2. Before moving PST files from internal storage to any external storage or moving them within the internal storage, make sure that you are not running Outlook in the background. Moving files while running Outlook in the background flash errors like “Cannot copy or move Outlook .pst” or “Cannot read from the source file or disk.”

  3. Default settings of the Antivirus installed in your system
  4. Users often install antiviruses that prevent the transfer of files from external sources, causing error messages to flash on the screen. This becomes a pain in neck situation for users as they are most likely to be unaware that the antivirus is preventing the files from getting copied in some external locations. Therefore, if you have installed an antivirus on your system, check the settings and disable settings that cause this error.

  5. Bad sectors on hard drives
  6. If the source disk drive is having damaged sectors, you are most likely to get error messages while copying the files. These damaged components may also lead to corruption of files affecting the total health of your PC. Therefore, you need to fix the issue before copying the files from the source drive to the destination drive.

    Windows offer an inbuilt Scandisk utility to fix damages on internal as well as external disk drives. To run this feature on your Windows system, follow the steps given below:

    1. Go to search and type Command prompt.
    2. Right-click and select “Run as Administrator.”
    3. Run as Administrator

    4. Type chkdsk D: /f and hit the Enter button.
    5. Run chkdsk D: /f command

      Note: The syntax for using the Scan command is: chkdsk [Drive:] [parameters], wherein the parameters include:

      • /f – to fix errors on hard drives.
      • /r – to specify the damaged hard disk drive.
      • /x –to dismount before carrying out the disk checking procedure.
    6. The chkdsk command will run the scan on the specified drive and displays the error (if found).
    7. displays the error

    Above, you can see that the scan has detected 0KB of bad sectors on the hard drive.

  7. Indexing issues with the PST
  8. Sometimes while copying Outlook PST files, the files get indexed causing the program to prevent copying the files to other locations. To overcome this situation, you have to restart your system and then boot in Safe Mode. Try copying the files in Safe mode; if you are still unable to copy the files, it simply means that the PST has gone corrupt.

  9. PST file corruption
  10. Another possible reason for the inaccessibility of PST files is corruption or damage of the source file. PST file corruption situation requires efficient tools and techniques to recover important data from Outlook PST files.

    Outlook provides an inbuilt utility to repair corrupt PST files. SCANPST.exe, popularly known as the Inbox Repair Tool, scans the PST file for all possible errors and then provides an option to fix them. However, this tool has its limitations – extremely corrupt PST files or files sized more than 2GB are hardly fixed using the Inbox Repair tool.

    Therefore, instead of using any inbuilt utility, try using a reliable third-party reliable tool to fix the issue. Outlook PST Recovery is a secure third-party PST recovery software. Embedded with powerful algorithms, Outlook PST Recovery provides stunning results for your data recovery tasks. Here is how the tool works:

    1. Launch Outlook PST Recovery on your system.
    2. The home screen of the tool will look like this:

      Outlook PST Recovery

    3. Select the Mode for Recovery, for single file recovery, click Browse to select the files, and for multiple files click on the + sign to add the corrupt files.
    4. Select Mode for Recovery

    5. Select the files and click Open.
    6. Select the files

    7. When files are added, click Next.
    8. Files added

    9. Read the Process Information and click the Finish button.
    10. Read the Process Information

    11. As soon as you click on the Finish button, the tool will start processing the files to recover all possible deleted/lost items.
    12. start processing

    13. Now, you can preview all the data by selecting the folders or files from the left and right-hand side pane, respectively.
    14. preview all the data

    15. Select the folders/files you want to recover and click the Save button located just below the menu bar items.
    16. save the button

    17. Select the Output type as a PST file and click Next.
    18. Select the Output

    19. The next window will give you options to apply filters. These filters range from attributes like From, To, Subject, Folder Name, Item Type, and Date Range (this step is optional); click Next anyway.
    20. apply filters

    21. If your PST file is large and you are concerned about the size, you can choose to split the file in two individual PST files. However, if you do not feel the need to split your PST, let the settings remain unaltered and click Next anyway.
    22. choose to split the file

    23. Click Browse to provide a destination path to save the recovered PST file. Select the path and click OK.
    24. Browse to provide a destination path

    25. You will be notified that the recovered files are saved to the specified location. Click OK to finish the process.
    26. finish the process

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Without bothering about the cause of “Cannot read from the source file or disk” error, you can look up to solutions that can fix the error. However, if you want quick access to the files, choosing a reliable tool will always save valuable time and effort. Outlook PST Recovery is an alternative to Inbox Repair and a bunch of other manual techniques to repair PST.