Public Folders in Exchange Server 2003


Topic Last Modified: 2007-12-26

Published: April 21, 2004

Exchange Server 2003 includes two types of information databases:

  • Mailbox stores, which hold personal mailbox information

  • Public folder stores, which are a shared repository

Access to public folders can be restricted to individuals and groups and are commonly used for:

  • Shared communication. This includes discussion through message posts, shared e-mails, contacts, group calendars, and support for Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP).

  • Shared content management. Similar to file shares, public folders can be used to hold content such as documentation and are good for content sharing. However, if you have collaboration requirements, you should review other solutions such as Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies.

If offline or replicated storage of information is required, public folders are an ideal repository.

Access to public folders is integrated with normal mailbox access through Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 (MAPI clients), clients compatible with Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) such as Outlook Express, and through Microsoft Office Outlook Web Access (Web client). Offline access to public folder content is available through Outlook in the Favorites public folder.

Microsoft continues to support the organizations that have invested in Exchange Server public folders. Exchange Server Public Folder Migration Tool (pfMigrate), included on the Exchange Server 2003 CD, enables you to create replicas of your system folders and public folders on new servers that run Exchange Server 2003, making the upgrade to Exchange Server 2003 quicker and easier. Exchange Server 2003 also enhances the administrative interfaces to make public folders easier to manage; Exchange Server 2003 includes several new public folder interface tabs including Details, Content, Find, Status, and Replication (schedule) tabs.


For the latest in public folder technologies, explore SharePoint Products and Technologies. SharePoint Products and Technologies offer several enhancements and advantages over Exchange Server public folders:

  • Document management. Get version control with check-in and check-out capabilities.

  • Browser-based client support (public folder access is available in Office Outlook Web Access).

  • Automatic notification of content changes.

  • Creation of Meeting Workspace sites through Microsoft Office Outlook 2003.

  • Integration with Office applications such as Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2003 for instant messaging and presence information. Presence is the status, such as online, away, or busy, displayed by your instant messaging program when you pause on your contact's icon.

  • Portal and site administration.

  • Link a document library to a public folder in Exchange 2000 Server or later to a SharePoint site.

  • Cross-site search capability. SharePoint Portal Server can be set up to search indexed public folders and other shared databases.


Community Additions