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Public folder changes in Exchange 2003 SP2

Learn about the new and enhanced public folder management features available in Exchange Server 2003 SP2.

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What are public folders?

Exchange public folders are an easy and effective way to collect, organize and share information with other people. They can be created, viewed and modified by administrators, or by any employee given the proper permissions. It is also possible to mail-enable public folders so content can be sent directly to a distribution list.

There are two types of public folders in Exchange Server 2003:

  1. Public folders

    Public folders are visible public folders that allow users to organize and publish information. You can create as many public folders you want.

    Exchange distinguishes between the following public folder trees:

    • One public folder tree type called "MAPI clients"
    • Many public folder tree types called "General purpose" public folders

  2. System folders

    System folders are hidden folders for internal Microsoft Exchange system management. Exchange needs these system folders for organizational forms, offline address book generation, and free/busy information.

    Exchange generates the following system folders:

    • E-forms registry
    • Events root
    • Offline Address Book
    • Schedule + free busy
    • Store events
    • NNTP control folder
    • System configuration

    To view System Folders, start Exchange System Manager, navigate to Public Folders and right click "View System Folders."

New Offline Address Book

There is a new public folder in Exchange Server 2003 SP2 called Offline Address Book (OAB) 4.0, which offers the following advantages over older versions:

  • Improved logging
  • Differential OAB updates
  • Reduced OAB file size (up to 30%)

Outlook 2003 clients must have Outlook 2003 SP2 installed to use these improvements.

Propagate Settings becomes Manage Settings

One of the biggest changes in public folder management in Exchange Server 2003 SP2 is the removal of the Propagate Settings option (Figure 1) from the public folder context menu.

Figure 1: New Manage Settings option
Figure 1

Exchange Server 2003 SP2 replaces this context menu item with a new Manage Settings option (Figure 2). This Manage Settings option starts a wizard that lets an administrator propagate particular properties of selected public folders to subfolders underneath it.

Figure 2: Manage Public Folder Settings Wizard
Figure 2

You can specify an Action you want to take (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Select the action
Figure 3

You can add, remove and modify users for the specified public folder structure.

Figure 4: Select the action to modify/add/remove users from public folders
Figure 4

If you choose Add Users, you must specify the user and assign the required permissions (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Add users with required permissions
Figure 5

Deleting a public folder store

In Exchange Server 2003 SP2, it is no longer possible to delete a public folder store that contains data not replicated to another server. You must first move all existing public folder replicas to another server, or delete the public folder if you don't need it.

If you select Move All Replicas (Figure 6) from the context menu, you will see the following dialog box (Figure 7).

Figure 6: Move All Replicas dialog box
Figure 6

Now you can select the server to which you want to move all the public folder replicas in this public folder store.

Figure 7: Select the server to which you want to move all public folder replicas
Figure 7

Logging and replication control

Finally, Exchange Server 2003 SP2 offers logging of public folder deletions and the option of stopping and resuming public folder content replication (Figure 8).

Figure 8: Stop Public Folder Content Replication option
Figure 8

Related links

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Related information from

  • Article: Exchange 2003 SP2 hits the street
  • FAQ: Exchange public folders
  • Learning Center: A primer on Exchange public folders

  • Dig Deeper on Legacy Exchange Server versions