Setup Public Folders in Exchange Server 2013

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The changes made in Public Folder architecture is one of the major changes made in Exchange Server 2013. Unlike earlier versions of Exchange, Public Folders in Exchange 2013 are now stored in mailbox called public folder mailbox. Folder hierarchy and contents are stored in this public folder mailbox. This mailbox is stored in Exchange database where other mailboxes are also stored. The database that stores public folder mailbox can take part in DAG (Database Availability Group) and provide high availability for public folders. High availability of public folders in earlier versions of Exchange was a different story. But in Exchange 2013, it’s nice and simple. But for now, public folders feature can be accessed by Office Outlook 2007 or later, no OWA (Outlook Web Access). You can also mail enable the public folder and send emails to public folder SMTP address. Public Folders have always been a collaboration tool in Exchange environment. In this post, I will show steps to setup public folders in Exchange Server 2013.

Setup Public Folders in Exchange Server 2013

Two types of public folder mailboxes exists. First, Primary hierarchy mailbox – This is the first public folder mailbox created in Exchange organization and has only writable copy of folder hierarchy. After creating first public folder mailbox you can create public folders. Second, Secondary hierarchy mailbox – This public folder mailbox is created when primary public folder mailbox already exists and will contain read-only versions of public folder hierarchy. Folder hierarchy contains information like After creating secondary public folder mailbox, you can create public folders in secondary mailbox as well.

Step 1: Create Public Folder Mailbox

You can create and configure public folders with EAC or EMS. Here I will use EAC to setup public folders. At first, log on to EAC. Select Public Folders on the features pane. Then select public folder mailboxes tab. Cick ‘+’ to add new public folder mailbox. New public folder page will pop up. Type the name for the mailbox. Browse and select OU and database.

Setup Public Folders in Exchange Server 2013

You can now see the mailbox is created with primary hierarchy. It is the only writable hierarchy. If you create other secondary public folder mailboxes, the hierarchy is read only.

Primary Hierarchy

Step 2: Create Public Folders

After creating the public folder mailbox, you can now create some folders in it. Here, I will create a folder named Departments. Then I will create a sub folder named Management under Departments folder. To create a folder, select public folders tab in same page. Click ‘+’ sign and type the name of the folder as shown below. Notice, the path is root.

Create Folder

Now click the Departments link.


After clicking the link, you can see the path has changed. Now create sub folder. Click ‘+’ sign and type the name for this sub folder. Then click Save.

Sub Folder

In this way you can create public folder mailboxes in Exchange 2013.

Step 3: Assign Permissions to Public Folder

You must assign permission to at least one user to manage public folder. Here, I will give permission to Administrator for Departments folder. The permission will inherit to its sub folders. To configure the permission, select the Departments folder in public folders tab. In the details pane, click Manage under folder permission.

Assign Folder Permission

Departments page will open. Click ‘+’¬†sign to add the public folder permission. Public folder permissions page will open. Click browse to add user. Choose Administrator from the list. Choose the permission level to owner. Then click save.

Administrator as Owner

Check apply changes to this public folder and all its sub folders option and click save again. Now Administrator is owner of this public folder. The administrator can now manage this folder.

You can use following PowerShell cmdlets to monitor Public Folders

Get-PublicFolderItemStatistics -Identity "\Departments\Management"
Get-PublicFolderStatistics -Identity "\Departments\Management" | Format-List
Get-PublicFolderMailboxDiagnostics -Identity "PublicMB1"
Update-PublicFolderMailbox -Identity PublicMB1 -SuppressStatus


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Bipin is a freelance Network and System Engineer with expertise on Cisco, Juniper, Microsoft, VMware, and other technologies. You can hire him on UpWork. Bipin enjoys writing articles and tutorials related to Network technologies. Some of his certifications are, MCSE:Messaging, JNCIP-SEC, JNCIS-ENT, and others.

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