Exchange public folder restore and recovery FAQs

Uh oh. You've lost Exchange public folder data. Now what? Refer to this collection of frequently asked questions (FAQs) for some quick technical advice. Whether you need to recover deleted public folder data or subfolders or restore public folders after a server crash, you'll find help here.

Uh oh. You've lost Exchange public folder data. Now what? Refer to this collection of frequently asked questions...

(FAQs) for some quick technical advice. Whether you need to recover deleted public folder data or subfolders or restore public folders after a server crash, you'll find help here.

Frequently Asked Questions:


Two methods for recovering Exchange Server public folder data

Can an Exchange Server public folder or public folder data be recovered through Deleted Items Retention, or is there another way to recover Exchange public folder info other than a brick-level backup? Currently, I have Deleted Item Recovery set for seven days. Deleted Mailbox Recovery is set for 30 days. Does this only address the private store?

Exchange Server public folders can also be recovered through Deleted Items Retention. If you delete an Exchange public folder item, you can go to the public folder and click Tools -> Recover Deleted Items. If you've deleted an entire public folder, you can select the parent folder and use Recover Deleted Items.

Deleted items can be recovered by the user who deleted them.

If recovery of a deleted Exchange public folder fails because of a permissions issue, you can use Microsoft's PFDAVAdmin utility. If Deleted Items Retention has been configured on the public store, you will see the deleted folders appear in red. Right click on the one you want to recover and choose the option to recover it.

Exchange public folder error: 'You do not have permission to recover this item.'

How can I recover a public folder from Exchange 2000? When I try to recover the public folder, it returns "You do not have permission to recover this item. See administrator." Is this an Exchange Server configuration issue?

This is a pretty common error. One thing to look into is 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 Exchange public folder.

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

Top Level Public Folder #1
&nbspL Public Folder A
 &nbsp&nbsp&nbspL Public Folder B
  &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspL Public Folder C

Let's assume you had permissions on Public Folder A and Public Folder B, but no permissions on Public Folder C, and Public Folder A was deleted. In this scenario, attempting to recover Public Folder A by viewing the dumpster contents -- while highlighting Top Level Public Folder #1 -- will fail with the message you refer to, since you don't have rights on Public Folder C. I suspect this is what you're seeing, in which case you will need to resort to backup.

Alternatively there are third-party tools that can assist you with recovering public folders from backup. Search your favorite Internet search engine for something like "recover public folders."

Finally, you could also try the PFDAVADMIN tool. A new version was released on Oct. 2, 2005.

Recovering a deleted public folder without Deleted Items Retention

We are running Exchange 2000 and one of our users deleted a public folder (subfolder). We didn't have public folder retention turned on (we do now), and we don't want to have to do a full restore of the Exchange server. We tried restoring it from OWA and Outlook Client, but there is nothing in the list to restore. Do you have any suggestions?

Unfortunately, since the public folder was deleted and Deleted Items Retention was not on at the time, it no longer exists on your server, so there is no way of getting it back from there. You'll have to get it back from backup. Your options are:

  1. Build a recovery environment, restore the entire public store from a server that contained a replica of that public folder, connect to the public folder in your recovery lab using Microsoft Outlook, and then copy the contents to a .PST file to move to a new public folder in your production environment.

  2. Search for a third-party tool that will simplify the public folder recovery [substantially] for you. Searching your favorite Internet search engine for "Exchange recovery public folder" should get you some options.

Recovering a deleted Exchange public folder subfolder

We currently have Exchange Server public folders set up with Deleted Items being kept for seven days. All subfolders inherit these permissions from their parent folder. Domain administrators and Microsoft Exchange administrators are set as owners of every public folder, and therefore have full permissions to each folder.

A user in our organization deleted two subfolders by accident. She went to
Tools -> Recover Deleted Items menu, and can see both of the subfolders she deleted. She received the normal permissions error upon trying to do this. As both a domain administrator and an Exchange administrator, I tried to do it from my Microsoft Outlook client, and received the same error.

It seems to be an issue of trying to recover an entire folder, not just a message, because when recovering a message by itself, it does not give this error. I have checked permissions on the entire Exchange public folder store, and everything seems to be in place for me to have this permission. Why am I unable to recover these deleted folders?

When recovery of deleted public folder items is failing, you can use the free PFDavAdmin utility.

If Deleted Items Retention has been configured on the public store, you will see the deleted folders appear in red. Right click on the one you want to recover and choose the option to recover it.

Recovering public folder data after an Exchange Server crash

An Exchange server has gone down. Is it possible to remake the public folder files and mail with just the MDBDATA folder with a fresh install? If so, how?

I'm assuming that you are referring to recovering data in Exchange 2000. There are two primary ways to recover mailbox data, and one for public folder data.

Mailbox data can be restored back to the recovery storage group (RSG). It can also be recovered on a hot spare server.

To recover the public folder data, you would need to mount the Exchange database on a hot spare server that is isolated from production. Once you have the data back online, you can use ExMerge or Pubmerge to extract the data into .PST files -- then you can import that back into your production mail environment. You should also consider looking into this webcast I did with David Sengupta on this topic of recovery.

Within the standard recovery context, you will lose the public folder data if you try to recover it through the Mailbox Recovery Center in Exchange System Manager, because it only allows you to mount mailbox stores.

Restoring public folder data to another Exchange information store

I have a query about how to restore/recover a Microsoft Exchange 2000 server public folder and private folder to another Exchange Server information store. My server's SCSI drive is damaged and I can't reinstall or repair. I used ESEUTIL to check and repair the said databases, but it's not working. Is there any third-party tool to recover all old mail and addresses to the new Exchange server?

Sounds like you're in a pickle. Well the standard response would be to restore from backup, but I'm assuming from your question that you weren't making backups. If that's a correct assumption, then first of all, put in that requisition to acquire some good Exchange-aware backup software. Then, have a look at an Exchange recovery solution.

Since your ESEUTIL exercise failed, there's a chance that these tools may not be able to read your database either. If that's the case, and if you really need the email, then you're left with having to take the Exchange database into a forensic recovery company to see if they can get the data out. That's typically pretty pricey, but it may be your only option.

Can I recover lost data from an Exchange Server public folder?

I have a problem with Exchange Server public folder/recurrences. My daily calendar diary is under the Exchange Server public folder section and someone has tried to extend the end date for one of the series. All the information entered in the existing occurrences has been lost.

Can you please tell me why this happened and if there is any way I can recover that info? I have a backup tape. But since a lot has changed since this morning, I cannot simply restore the information from the tape without losing other vital data.

First off, while I don't think you want to hear this, you're probably better off recreating all the information that you lost rather than trying to recover it from backup.

Secondly, while I haven't heard of your exact scenario, I would start by checking the following:

  • Is there a chance that the other user did more than simply extend the end date for one of the recurring appointments?

  • Are there any views or security permissions at play here? Double-check that neither is simply hiding your view of the data.

  • Is Exchange Server public folder replication at play? If you have multiple replicas of the public folder in question, check which Exchange Server public folder replica the other user was connecting to versus the replica that you were connecting to; and consider tombstone intervals as a possible explanation.

  • Have these kinds of problems been reported for any other Exchange Server public folders in your environment? If so, check the application event log(s) on any affected public folder server(s) in your environment for any errors or warnings from source MS Exchange IS Public.

David Sengupta
David Sengupta
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