1 x Exchange 2003 Server (In the decomissioning process)
1 x Exchange 2010 Server
10 x Outlook 2007 Clients
No Outlook clients below Outlook 2007 i.e. No Outlook 2003 clients.
200 OWA users

The Exchange 2003 to 2010 Transition has gone well. All mailboxes have been moved to the new Exchange 2010 server.

I want to delete the Exchange 2003 Public Folder heirarchy without replicating it to the Exchange 2010 server if it's not in use.

What's the best way to test if any Public Folders are in use?


Even if nobody touches those files for 6 months, I still wouldn't let them disappear for a while. You'll save yourself a lot of potential headaches by replicating these PFs to the 2010 box and simply not making them accessible to the users, if you truly want to phase them out (I bet you can create the PF DB, replicate, then take it offline and get it off the exchange storage, if necessary). Document it thoroughly and keep the PF DB around for the longest retention period on your backups (I'd go with 5 years, myself).

It's CYA at it's finest. If nobody ever needs it, you 'wasted' maybe an hour fiddling with it. If they DO need it, you saved yourself a world of aggrivation. I can't tell you how many times I've been called on to resurrect a 2- or 3-year-old file.

Another alternative would be to pull all the data out & stuff it onto some kind of cheap NAS or offline backup. The idea of having to resurrect that Exchange 2003 server so you can restore the PFs from backup in order to retrieve one file... just sounds ugly.

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  • I had thought that if their Outlook 2007 supposedly, based on what I read, wasn't using Public Folders then it would be a tidier transition from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010 if I deleted the Public Folders all together. When I looked inside the contents of a few of the Public Folders I saw recent dates. I couldn't tell for certain if they were in use or not. I ended up going ahead and replicating the Public Folders to Exchange 2010 because in the end it seemed like the safest and easiest thing to do and it didn't hurt anything. – caleban Sep 3 '10 at 2:48
  • I did the same thing, and in the end, it seemed like I just ended up with an extra database. Safe & easy won out for me, too. – Kara Marfia Sep 3 '10 at 3:15

An obvious solution is to look at the most recent messages in each folder.

If the dates are sufficienly old

There is a "Last Accessed" property on each, but that can be touched by your backup scheme. The "Last Updated" will tell you the last time a message was posted, but not last read.

If your last updated is sufficiently old, the next best thing to do it check the permissions and poll those people asking whether they use that folder...

Sorry, but there is no cut-and-dried option here...

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Migrate the public folders to sharepoint. You can try Kimmo Forss's importer here

or you can use some of the 3rd party tools that can migrate public folder content. There are some caveats to migratiing to sharepoint ( See Public Folder vs Sharepoint Guidance ) However, if you are not sure it's probably likely it's not used and this an easy way (relatively speaking) to preserve the data in a usable way. If it's not alot of data you can probably get away with sharepoint foundation as a destination.

I woudn't recommend deleting it because Murphy loves to remind users about a day or so after you've removed the server that the essential document that the company depends on resides in a public folder 5 levels deep that only he used.

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