All About Public Folders in Exchange Server

In this article, we are going to see about public folders in detail which is available in all Exchange versions. This article will concentrate on public folder in Exchange server 2010.


Public folder is not a new concept in Exchange server. It was created way back in older version. In spite of multiple discussion, Microsoft has not removed it any of the Exchange version till now. It is still continuing in Exchange 2016 server. The architecture was redesigned in Exchange 2013. Till 2010 server, Public folder got its own database, however in 2013 it got merged with Mailbox database. At the same time migration became tedious due to this change, as we need to rely only on scripts.

Public Folder (PF) Database:

Public folder database is similar to user mailbox database. It also got .edb, log and check point files. Instead of storing user mailboxes, it stores public folders data. Unlike the mailbox data is getting stored in OST cached Outlook, public folder data will not get stored in Outlook OST file. We cannot recover it using OST 2 PST option due to this reason. Backing up the database is the best option to face if any disaster happens. Public folder database is created by default in Exchange 2010. We have to create it manually.

The creation process is similar to user mailbox database, we have to open Exchange management console and navigate it to Organization Configuration -> Mailbox. Under “Database Management” tab we can see all databases. Click on “New Public Folder Database” under Actions menu in order to create. We can create only one PF database per server.Create Public Folder Database

Public folder management console:

Once we have created a PF mailbox database, we can manage it through “Public Folder Management Console”. Same can be accessed under “Toolbox” section in Exchange management console. In the newly created PF database, you can see two parent folders.

  1. Default Public folders
  2. System Public folders

Default public folders: Whatever public folder we are creating in our organization will get stored here. If we have multiple Exchange servers in our organization, then all the folder hierarchies will automatically get replicated between each other and that will be visible under this parent folder. The content inside the folders will be replicated to other server based on the settings that we are configuring on each and every folders. If we need to replicate the content, then we will add the respective server in the replica list.

System public folders: This folder will contain the replica and all the data related to Offline Address Book and Free Busy information. If there are any issues in this folder, then both the features will not work as expected and you have to start your troubleshooting from here.Default public folders

How to create a Public Folder (PF):

In the Public folder management console, under “Actions” menu, click on “New Public Folder”. In the next window, type the public folder name and then click “New” button. The new public folder will be visible under the default folder.Type The Public Folder Name

In order to view these folder from the Outlook or Outlook Web Access, we need to map the public folder database with the user mailbox database. To do that, go to the User mailbox database properties, under the “Client Settings” tab you can see the option to map it. If you have multiple servers, then recommended would be pointing the database which is created in the nearest server. Most commonly in the same server.Map The Public Folder Database With The User Mailbox Database


Public folders can also be created from Outlook or Outlook Web Access. It’s always good to create them from the server end. Maintaining the PF in a big environment with multiple Exchange servers is not an easy task. So please explore it as much as you can in you test environment before you make any changes in the production server.

Author Introduction:

Sophia Mao is a data recovery expert in DataNumen, Inc., which is the world leader in data recovery technologies, including repair pst file problem and word recovery software products. For more information visit

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