Due to a change in company policy, all existing Public Folders (PF) have to be phased out in favour of shared mailboxes. Unfortunately, they don't seem to have any procedures or guidelines for this migration and I can't find much online either.

I've already migrated one of our public folders so far as a sort of test case. Because we still use Exchange 2003, we can't create real shared mailboxes as we would in 2007 or 2010 (With New-Mailbox -Shared ... in the Exchange Shell). Instead, I simply created a new account on the AD and assigned it a mailbox. I then set the PF's permissions to read-only to keep it in a consistent state and copied the entire folder to a local PST in Outlook 2010, from which the folder was in turn copied to the new mailbox. Permissions and Folder Visible were set for all users and the migration was successful.

While this works, the whole procedure feels very hackish to me and not at all efficient. I'd welcome some input on automating or at least streamlining the process.

Additionally, we are unsure of what to do with our mail-enabled Public Folders. Several of these are nested under other PFs, some of which are also mail-enabled. Preserving folder structure is a key requirement and this seems impossible at first glance. I've considered creating dummy accounts for all the email addresses from our mail-enabled PFs and then setting up automated rules to forward messages to a subfolder of the new shared mailboxes, but I am not familiar enough with Exchange to know if this is even possible.

Further points of concern are the Calendars and Contact lists in our public folders. I suppose I'll be forced to create new mailboxes for every one of these we have as well, then set up share permissions for their Calendar and Contact items, but would be happy to be proven wrong.


I know this is an old question, but to convert public folders to a mailbox, you would simply click on All Folders in Outlook, click the top-level public folder and then export that folder to a PST, ensuring you have checked to include all subfolders.

Then once exported you would import into the shared mailbox you have set up.

I understand the need for this policy change as Office 365 and Exchange 2013 do not support public folders (AFAIK). A shared mailbox is the accepted alternate solution, and in many ways works better than public folders (it is already mail-enabled, for one, you can set up inbound rules, for two, and auto-organization should you ever want to send inbound faxes to a specific folder of said mailboxes using inbound mail rules).

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I am not sure converting Public Folders to shared-mailboxes is a good idea.

You should either phase out Public Folders completely, or convert them into SharePoint Repositories for document/item storage. Mail-enabled Public Folders can continue to function in a SharePoint environment. SharePoint also gives you better control and manageability compared to Public Folders or any other alternative.

You can download the free Sharepoint Foundation and use that to achieve this goal.

With shared-mailboxes, you will be dealing with a myriad of permissions-related issues.

There is a guide here on how to convert Public Folders to SharePoint, a guide with screenshots here, and I believe there are some tools available to do this as well.

Microsoft's "updated guidance" on Public Folders might be worth a read, too.

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  • A useful suggestion and a valid approach but unfortunately not an answer to the question as we are already locked into using shared mailboxes. – Lilienthal Sep 23 '12 at 14:46
  • Surely whoever set the policy considered the answer to this? – JamesRyan Oct 16 '13 at 11:30

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