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Exchange 2013 Migrations Could Face Delays Due to Public Folder Limits

Microsoft has a restriction on the number of public folders supported by Exchange Server 2013 and Exchange Online that could prove problematic for some organizations.

The issue, in which Microsoft's newest mail server technologies support a maximum of 10,000 public folders in a hierarchy, was highlighted this week by Microsoft MVP Tony Redmond in a couple of blog posts. Public folders are designed so that users can share information. Typically, the hierarchy of public folders gets displayed in a user's Outlook mail client.

Redmond pointed out that many organizations may have more than 10,000 public folders. Those organizations also may be trying to move from older Exchange versions to Microsoft's newer releases, which use a different technology for public folders. However, Microsoft offers no easy way for such organizations to discover and clean up folders that may have been created and abandoned, while also identifying public folders with information that should be retained. Typically, moving public folders is the last step in an Exchange migration, although it's not supported in some moves, such as moving from Exchange Server 2003 to Office 365.

Microsoft appears to have published the limits of public folders for Exchange Server 2013 late last month. Prior to that notice, Redmond said he hadn't heard of the public folders restriction for the server product. Microsoft issued the release-to-manufacturing version of Exchange Server 2013 back in October of 2012, so it's had about a year-and-a-half's worth of time to give fair warning to organizations. The public folder limits for Exchange Online are the same as those for Exchange Server 2013, according to Redmond.

Unnamed sources at Microsoft told Redmond that "the development team are [sic] well aware that these limitations will pose problems for enterprise customers who want to move to either Exchange 2013 on-premises or Exchange Online," according to Redmond's first blog post. Supposedly, the team is "working on the problem."

Good tools to track and delete public folders aren't available and organizations could face going through a manual "pruning" process, which can delay Exchange migrations, Redmond said. He added that organizations could write custom PowerShell scripts to identify candidates for pruning, but they still face uncertainty in determining the value of the information stored in the public folders.

"The PowerShell scripts that are in the public domain are simple so the reports that they generate are not filtered and do not focus on the need to clean," Redmond explained in his second blog post.

Redmond suggested IT pros bring up why Microsoft failed to communicate the public folder limitations at the company's upcoming Exchange Conference. That conference kicks off at the end of this month.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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