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Be careful when moving Exchange public folder objects

Unpredictable things can happen if a public folder's objects are moved out of the Exchange System Objects organizational unit. This tip explains what to watch out for and how to fix it.

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Unpredictable things can happen if a Microsoft Exchange public folder's objects are moved out of the Exchange System Objects organizational unit (OU). For one, you may get the following error when you try to view the properties of a mail-enabled folder affected by such a change:

The format of the specified domain name is invalid

Facility: Win32
ID no: c00704bc
Exchange System Manager

You'd think that the solution would be to just move the affected objects back into the right OU using Exchange System Manager -- but it isn't that easy.

One of the odder bits of asymmetry in Exchange System Manager is that an object can be moved out of the Exchange System Objects OU, but cannot be moved into it. That's right -- not even if it originally belonged there in the first place. (From what I have been able to tell, this is to prevent the OU from getting "contaminated" by things that aren't supposed to be there, which makes sense, but doesn't help us fix the problem!)

The only way to move objects into the Microsoft Exchange System Objects OU is through the ADSI Edit tool, which is included with Windows 2000/2003 on the \Support\Tools folder on the installation CD.

To restore the public folders to their original OU:

  1. Run the ADSI Edit tool.

  2. Open the Domain NC container, inside which you'll see a tree structure similar to the Active Directory Users and Computers hierarchy.

  3. Open the OU that the public folder directory objects were moved into.

  4. Locate the directory object in that OU and right-click on it.

  5. Select Move, and then the Microsoft Exchange System Objects OU.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter.

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Related information from

  • Learning Center: A primer on Exchange public folders
  • Reference Center: Exchange public folder management

  • Dig Deeper on Exchange Server setup and troubleshooting