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Performing public folder subfolder searches in Exchange 2003 SP2

SearchExchange.com expert Bharat Suneja explains how to perform public folder subfolder -- or "Deep Traversal" -- searches in Exchange 2003 SP2.

Is it possible to include subfolders while carrying out a search within public folders in Exchange 2003 SP2? Every time I try to include Exchange public folder subfolders, the tick box is grayed out, unless of course I'm searching mail folders. If public folders are such a good store for company information, I assume that they can be configured to allow such detailed searches?
The type of search that you are referring to (searching all subfolders) is known as "Deep Traversal" search. To perform such a search, Exchange Server needs to lock the public folder hierarchy in order to prevent it from changing during the search. As you can probably imagine, this isn't such a good idea for Exchange public folders -- which can be accessed and perhaps changed by many people -- as it is for an individual mailbox.

There are a couple of solutions to this, though none may be as appealing as the idea of simply being able to search Exchange public folder subfolders from the Microsoft Outlook search UI:

  1. You could move your folders to a non-MAPI public folder tree. These are not supported (and therefore invisible to) Microsoft Outlook -- so you would have to access them by using non-MAPI protocols like HTTP/OWA.
  2. You could use Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server (SPS) to index Exchange public folders.

Exchange public folders were a great idea when Microsoft introduced them, but over time Microsoft has been deprecating their use and suggesting users move to SPS which was built to meet users' evolving collaboration needs.

Do you have comments on this Ask the Expert Q&A? Let us know.
Related information from SearchExchange.com:

  • Expert Advice: Performing a full text search through e-mails
  • FAQ: Exchange public folders
  • Resource Center: Public folder management tips and resources
  • Resource Center: Exchange 2003 tips and resources

  • Dig Deeper on Exchange Server setup and troubleshooting

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