Best Practices for Exchange Server Public Folders


Microsoft® Exchange 2000 Server and Exchange Server 2003 include two types of information databases:

  • Mailbox stores, which hold personal mailbox information

  • Public folder stores, which are a shared repository

Many administrators think that public folders are difficult to configure and manage, and, therefore, public folders are frequently underused. However, if you understand when and where public folders are best deployed and how to manage public folders effectively, you can help users collaborate on projects and manage shared data more efficiently.


Download Best Practices for Microsoft Exchange Server Public Folders to print or read offline.

Which Solution Works for You?

Before you deploy Exchange 2000 Server or Exchange Server 2003 public folders, you should make sure that the functionality that is provided by public folders meets your business needs. It is a good idea to evaluate the features and functionality that are provided by public folders and to compare them to the data repository solution that is provided by Microsoft Windows® SharePoint® Products and Technologies.

For detailed information about both options, see Selecting the Appropriate Public Folder Solution.

How to Select the Appropriate Client

After you have decided to use public folders, you must determine which client is best suited for your public folder needs. To make this determination, you should understand the difference between the two available top-level hierarchies for public folders and which type of top-level hierarchy suits your organization.

For detailed information about how to select a client for Exchange public folder access, see Selecting the Appropriate Client for Exchange Public Folder Access.

How to Implement Replication

To optimize public folder performance, you must actively manage your public folders. Each folder in a public folder tree has its own settings that help you optimize performance. Because public folder replication in Exchange Server can be a resource-intensive operation, you should invest some time in determining the most efficient replication solution for your Exchange Server environment.

For detailed information about how to implement replication, see Exchange Public Folder Best Practices: Implementing Replication.

How to Manage Referrals

When a user connects to a public folder store that does not contain a copy of the content that the user is looking for, the user is redirected to another store that has a copy of the content. This process is called referral.

For detailed information about referrals, see Exchange Public Folder Best Practices: Understanding Referrals.

How to Mail-Enable Public Folders

In Exchange Server 5.5, all public folders were mail-enabled and hidden by default. In Exchange 2000 Server and Exchange Server 2003, folders can be mail-enabled or mail-disabled, depending on whether the Exchange Server organization is in mixed mode or in native mode.

Mail-enabling allows authorized users to post items to public folders by using standard e-mail. After you understand how public folder e-mail messages are routed, you can configure Exchange Server to optimize message delivery for public folders.

For detailed information about how e-mail is delivered to public folders and how you can configure Exchange Server to optimize e-mail delivery to public folders, see Exchange Public Folder Best Practices: Mail-Enabling Public Folders.

How to Manage Data

After you have planned and deployed a public folder solution, you must implement a data management plan. Your plan must account for the following data management factors:

  • Planning for capacity on public folder databases

  • Online maintenance

  • Content expiration and size limits

For detailed information about managing data, see Exchange Public Folder Best Practices: Managing Data.

How to Optimize Scalability

Scalability is an important factor in the design and implementation of any public folder deployment. You should consider the following factors as you determine how to optimize scalability:

  • Number of public folder databases

  • Public folder hierarchy width and depth

  • Items per public folder

  • Users per public folder database

For detailed information about optimizing scalability, see Exchange Public Folder Best Practices: Scalability.

Troubleshooting Resources

For resources to help you troubleshoot public folders, see Exchange Public Folder Troubleshooting Resources.