Recreate a public folder store from scratch

If you ever have to delete your Exchange public folder store because of damage, these step-by-step instructions explain how to rebuild it.

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As its name implies, the public folder store is the database Exchange uses to hold data found in public folders. It's kept discrete from the mailbox store, although the two do have some interdependencies. If the public folder store is damaged, the mailbox store will still be intact, and the two can be recovered, restored and rebuilt separately.

If there's a problem that causes the public folder store to become damaged -- but there was nothing in it that needed to be restored -- the public folder store can be deleted and repaired anew with just a little work. This will affect the system folders, however, which contain things like the free/busy information for scheduled objects. So the system folder will also need to be manually rebuilt.

  1. Shut down Exchange.
  2. Delete the public folder database files, which are pub1.edb and pub1.stm, and are found in the \Exchsrvr\MDBDATA\ folder. Restart Exchange.
  3. In the Exchange Service Manager, go to the public folder store object and mount it. This will generate a warning that a new database will be created.
  4. Once the public folder store is mounted and working, the system folders will need to be recreated from scratch.
  5. Regenerate the system folders using the instructions in Microsoft Knowledge Base article 275171. This requires the GUIDgen.exe utility (available in the KB article) to create a new GUID. You'll want to manually configure Exchange to use the new GUID for the system folders via ADSI Edit (described in the article).
  6. You may need to wait for Active Directory replication to take place before you can restart the system (and Exchange) and see the system folders.
  7. If you need to manually republish free/busy information, use the instructions in Microsoft Knowledge Base article 294282.


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This article refers to Exchange 2000. How is this task accomplished in Exchange 5.5? (There are still a great number of IT shops running Exchange 5.5, including ours.) Also, if an item is deleted from a public folder, is there a way to recover this item without having to restore the entire Exchange server?
—Efrim R.

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Efrim, there is actually a Microsoft article about recovering items deleted from public folders in Exchange -- this may be the best place to start if you have not yet seen it:

1. Recovering Deleted Items from a Public Folder

2. Understanding Deleted Item Recovery
—Serdar Yegulalp, tip author

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It's been a long time since I have messed with Exchange 5.5, but if memory serves me, you can stop all of the Exchange services and delete the pub.edb file. You can then copy the pub.edb file from the Exchange Server CD. You will have to re-apply the service pack at that point to bring the public folder store up to a version consistent with the directory and the information store. Lastly, you have to make the public folder store consistent with the Exchange directory. I can't remember if this is done by using EDBUTIL or ISINTEG, but it's one of the two.

As for Efrim's other question, unless they are using backup software that supports a brick-level restore, you have to restore the whole Exchange 5.5 database.
—Brien P.


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This was first published in February 2005

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