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Recovering a deleted Exchange public folder subfolder

Learn how to recover a deleted Exchange public folder subfolder.

We have public folders running on Exchange 2003. A user has deleted a subfolder within public folders. Although...

deleted item retention is enabled, the folder cannot be recovered -- even with full control permissions through the public folder hierarchy.

We receive the error, "Outlook was unable to recover some or all of the items in this folder. Make sure you have the required permissions to recover items in this folder and try again. If the problem persists contact your administrator."

I have full owner rights right through the tree and still cannot recover this folder. Any advice would be appreciated.


One thing you may want to look into is whether there were nested public folders beneath this public folder, and what permissions were set on the public folders nested inside of the folder you are trying to recover.

From what I understand, you need rights for the public folder that you are trying to recover, and all nested public folders beneath that public folder.

For example, if you had the following public folder hierarchy:

Top Level Public Folder #1
  L Public Folder A
    L Public Folder B
      L Public Folder C

Let's say you had permissions on Public Folder A and Public Folder B -- but no permissions on Public Folder C. If Public Folder A was deleted, attempting to recover it by viewing the dumpster contents, while highlighting Top Level Public Folder #1, will fail with the message you refer to. This is because you don't have rights on Public Folder C.

I suspect this is what you're experiencing, in which case you will need to resort to a backup. The two ways of recovering the folder from backup are (a) building a recovery server or (b) using a third-party solution to recover the public folder from backup to your production environment.


We utilize these basic procedures with Outlook Web Access to recover public folders that have been deleted, but we could not recover through Outlook.

Our work environment consists of a Windows 2000 domain in native mode and Exchange in mixed mode. Some of our users accidentally deleted public folders that they then needed back. I used the Recover Deleted Items Wizard to recover these folders (How to use Exchange Server 5.5 or Exchange 2000 Server to recover items that are not first transferred to the Deleted Items folder in Outlook). This has been a very useful tool -- however, it doesn't always work.

20% is used in places where the folder name has a space.

I then used the syntax to try to open up the public folder where the person deleted the folder: (https://servername/public/toplevel/subfolder/?cmd=showdeleted&btnClose=1). I saw the folder that the user wanted to recover, highlighted it, clicked Recover and that was it. It didn't give me an error like I received through the Outlook client.

This is actually better than recovering it through the Outlook client, because if you recover it from the Outlook client, it adds (Recovered) to the end of the name of the folder, and also adds "Recovered" to all the e-mail addresses you have assigned to the folder. Recovering the folder through Outlook Web Access does not.
—Dave K.


I just wanted to say how useful this response was. I deleted our office's Helpdesk folder and this advice helped recover it.

One thing that might be worth noting is that it also recovers all deleted email that was in the deleted folder. So, if you have a folder with 100 email, then delete 90 of them, then delete the folder. If you recover the folder this way, you get the folder and all 100 email back.
—Hamish S.


The syntax address was not the exact same, but we did use "?cmd=showdeleted&btnClose=1" to recover a large public folder with subfolders. The public folder was deleted by mistake. We appreciate the help.
—Dennis L.


I have seen this error in the past and each time had to resort to a backup, as the Outlook "recovery" method (as described on Microsoft's Web site) reported the same error.

This simple Web option worked flawlessly for us. Thank you very much for the pointers.
—Thomas D.


Thanks very much for the information; it recovered the folder successfully, even as a top-level public folder. Incidentally, this solution does not work from Firefox -- only Internet Explorer. You get an obscure error saying "Unable to delete items. The folder may not be deleted."
—Nigel R.


Thank you, Dave K. It worked perfectly for me using Outlook Web Access. I could not get the Recover Item Wizard to work in Outlook even though I had administrative privileges. The syntax was a little different for me (http://yourservername/public/?cmd=showdeleted&btnClose=1). I am using Exchange Server 2003 SP1.
—Tony E.


I'm on Exchange 2003 SP2 and this solution worked great! Thank you.
—Shawn M.


I used the Microsoft Exchange Server Public Folder DAV-based Administration Tool (PFDAVAdmin) to recover everything; it's very easy to use.
—Juan R.


Well done. By mistake, I deleted some public folders and I was able to successfully restore what I had removed. Thanks once again for your helpful tool.
—Trung L.

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Related information from SearchExchange.com:

  • Expert Advice: Recovering deleted Exchange public folder subfolders
  • Expert Advice: Public folders not replicating after Exchange 2003 migration
  • Learning Center: A primer on Exchange public folders
  • Reference Center: Exchange public folder management

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