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Migrating public folders to Exchange 2003

Two techniques you can use to migrate public folders to Exchange Server 2003.

This article outlines two options you can use to migrate public folders to Exchange Server 2003. The first option is a simple method you can use if you have a relatively modest number of public folders to migrate. For a larger public folder migration, you'll want to take a look at the second option provided.

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Option 1: Set up Exchange 2003 as a replication partner

The easiest way to complete a migration of public folders from Exchange Server 2000 to Exchange Server 2003 is to set the Exchange 2003 server up as a replication partner for the public folders that you want to migrate. After doing so, you can just wait for Exchange to replicate the public folders to the new server. Once replication is complete, you can remove the old server from the list of replication partners.

  1. To accomplish this, open the Exchange System Manager and navigate to Administrative Groups -> your administrative group -> Servers -> your public folder server > First Storage Group -> Public Folder Store -> Public Folder Instances.

  2. Right click on the folder that you want to migrate and select Properties.

  3. When you see the folder's properties sheet appear, select the Replication tab and click the Add button.

  4. Specify the public folder store to which you want to migrate the folder and click OK.

    Exchange will now begin to create a replica of the folder on the designated public folder store. After the replication cycle completes (which can take a while), you will need to remove the original server from the list of replication partners.

  5. Navigate through Exchange System Manager to Administrative Groups -> your administrative group -> Servers -> the new server -> First Storage Group -> Public Folder Store -> Public Folder Instances.

  6. Now, right click on the folder that you just migrated and select Properties.

  7. Go to the Replication tab, select the old server from the list, click Remove and then OK. Exchange will eventually remove the folder replica from the old server, leaving only the copy on the new server.

As you can see, this technique is pretty easy to use, but it does have its limits. This seemingly easy task would become overwhelming if you had a public folder store with thousands of folders.

Option 2: Use the PFMIGRATE command-line utility

If you have a large public folder store, you can migrate public folders by using a command-line utility named PFMIGRATE instead.

PFMIGRATE is a utility that's included on the Exchange Server 2003 installation CD. It is a command-line tool designed to allow you to add or remove replication partners. PFMIGRATE will work with Exchange 5.5 and higher, but there are a couple of restrictions that you need to be aware of. First, you must have at least one Exchange 2003 server in your Exchange organization. You don't actually have to include that server in the operation when you are specifying replicas, but the server must exist. The second major limitation is that the servers you are creating replicas for must exist within the same routing group. You are also required to have administrative credentials over the servers and folders involved in the operation.

You can find the PFMIGRATE tool on the Exchange Server 2003 installation CD. The file is named PFMIGRATE.WSF and is located in the \Support\ExDeploy folder. The tool has lots of options, and can be fairly complicated to use, but it doesn't have to be.

If you want to use PFMIGRATE to move public folders, use this command syntax:

PFMIGRATE.WSF /S:source_server /T:destination_server /A /N:100 /F:C: \logfile.txt

In the command above the /S:source_server switch is where you would enter the name of the server that currently contains the public folders. Likewise, the /T:destination_server switch allows you to enter the name of the server to which you want to move the public folders. The /A switch adds the target server to the folder replica list. The /N:100 switch allows you to enter the number of public folders to modify. For some reason, this switch is an absolute requirement in add mode, but not in delete mode. If you were using this command in real life, you would replace the number 100 with the number of folders that you need to migrate.

Fortunately, you don't have to count public folders to figure out what number to use. The PFMIGRATE tool has a reporting option. You can run a report and it will tell you how many folders exist on the source server. The switch used to generate a report is /R.

The final portion of the command above is the /F:C: \LOGFILE.TXT switch. This allows you to log the operation to a text file.

Once you have added the target server to the list of replicas, you must wait for the replication process to complete before doing anything else. Once replication is finished, you can use PFMIGRATE to remove the public folders from the source server. The command syntax for this operation is:

PFMIGRATE /S:source_server /D:destination_server /D

In this command, the source server is the server that you want to remove the replicas from and the destination server is the server that should now contain the replicas. The /D switch tells PFMIGRATE to delete folders from the source server, but only if they exist on the destination server.

About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Windows 2000 Server and IIS. Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once in charge of IT security for Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer he has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal Web site at www.brienposey.com.

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I just noticed a small typo on this page.

I believe this command:
PFMIGRATE /S:source_server /D:destination_server /D

Should read this:
PFMIGRATE /S:source_server /T:destination_server /D

—Kenneth W.

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