December 3, 2008

Recovering old Public Folders to a Server with a Different Name, and Different Organisation

Ok consider the following scenario;

You have been running Exchange 2003 for a number of years through many versions, and you have had a couple of Exchange 2003 organisations which have been de-commissioned as you physical organisation has changed, therefore you have un-installed them and created new installations.

Suddenly someone comes to you one day, and says “Do you remember that item that was in the public folders 4 years ago that was important, well we have had a Freedom of Information request and need it – can you get it”

After you have finished screaming, you realise that you do have a backup tape from that far back, and it does contain a backup of your Public Folders but you cannot be sure what the Exchange Server name was, or that Organisation.

This actually happened to me recently – and this is my story of how I got it back.

Ok, firstly I need to point out that this procedure is not ever going to be supported by Microsoft, but what I am going to speak about here can be used when you are in the situation where all you have is a set of Public Folder Databases, no transaction logs and the old server that they belonged to (and even the AD domain has gone) but desperately need to get the Information in the Public Folders backs, if you are going to give this a go, please ONLY DO IT IN A TEST LAB!!!!!

This article assumes that the person following it has a good understanding of Exchange Server and AD.

Before you begin ensure that you are performing ALL of this in a LAB environment – I cannot stress to you how unsupported this process is by Microsoft, is has been purely designed to provide a means of Data recovery for Orphaned Public Folders.

You will require a functioning Exchange server which is using the Enterprise Edition of Exchange (as you are going to need to create an additional storage group (which will enable you to log-on to OWA and view the messages that you have brought back from your Public Folders).

It does not matter if the lab server has both AD and Exchange installed on it, and it also does not matter if the domain name and organisation name are different (the whole point to this is being able to view the Public Folders from a database that you cannot remember the detail of).

An Outlook client will need to be provided to point at the LAB Exchange server in order to export the contents of the Public Folder Database.

You will also need to download the LegacyDN.exe tool from the Microsoft web site here:

Performing the Sequence;

Dismount the Default Mailbox Store and the Public Folder Store on your Lab Exchange Server from the Exchange System Manager (ESM)

The Default location of the Public Folders is C:\Program Files\Exchsrvr\MDBData\

Delete the Pub1.edb and the Pub1.stm files.

Copy your orphaned DB Files to the location of the Exchange Public Folder Files


ESEUTIL /p “c:\program files\exchsrvr\mdbdata\pub1.edb”

From the ESM Try to mount the Exchange Public Folders – This will fail – this is intentional, it will generate an error in the Application Event log that will tell us what the DN was of the Organisation the Public Folders came from.

Go to the Application Event Log – look for the following events 1088 and 9519 – the event that we are looking for really is the 1088 event which will have text in it like the following;

The information store could not be loaded because the distinguished name (DN) /O=COREGENDYN/OU=FIRST ADMINISTRATIVE GROUP/CN=RECIPIENTS/CN= of message database “First Storage Group\Public Folder Store (LDN-EX1)” does not match the DN of directory /O=LDN/OU=FIRST ADMINISTRATIVE GROUP/CN=RECIPIENTS/CN=.The database may have been restored to a computer that is in an organization or site different than the original database. For more information, click

The value that we are interested in is the first part of the Message – this tells us what the DN of the Exchange organisation needs to be in order for the Public Folders to Mount – so from above we need to make a note of the /O=COREGENDYN/OU=FIRST ADMINISTRATIVE GROUP/CN=RECIPIENTS/CN=

Ensure that you have downloaded the LegacyDN tool and copied it to a folder on your LAB Exchange server you will now need to run it using the command line legacyDN.exe /forcewrite

You will need to Log Administrator Domain Credentials;

Should your credentials be correct you will be given a warning telling you that incorrect use of the tool will break your Exchange Server – click on the Yes button to continue.

You will then be presented with a screen that looks like the following:

Click on the entry in the Existing Administrative Groups – and you will notice that the 3 edit boxes will populate (as per above).

Change the Organisation Name to the first part of the DN string – so in my Example the Organisational String is /o=COREGENDYN therefore the organisation name should be changed to COREGENDYN.

When you have done that click on the CHANGE ORG button, the tool will then think to itself for a little while and then, if the change has been completed you will be presented with a success message.

You will now need to restart the Exchange System Attendant Service from the Windows Services Administrative Tools MMC.

When the services have restarted, open up the ESM and navigate to:

Administrative Groups->Servers->->First Storage Group

Right click on the Public Folder Store and select “Properties” click on the “Database” tab and tick the box which is entitled “This Database can be overwritten by a restore”, click on apply the OK.

Again, Right Click on the Public Folder Store and click “Mount Store” – the database should then mount.

Right click on the First Storage Group – select NEW and the choose Mail Box Store.

Go through the process of creating a new store – when it have been created Mount the store.

Jump into Active Directory Users and Computers and create a new user but when moving through the Wizard ensure that you create the Mailbox for the user in the new store that you have created.

Now, you should be in a position to point your Outlook client or OWA at your LAB Exchange server and view the Orphaned Public Folders.

I have placed a Download copy of this article here

Exchange 2003 Articles One Reply to “Recovering old Public Folders to a Server with a Different Name, and Different Organisation”
Andy Grogan
Andy Grogan


One comment on “Recovering old Public Folders to a Server with a Different Name, and Different Organisation

    Author’s gravatar

    Just a note.
    In order to solve the issue you describe, there is no need to run the ESEUtil /P unless the DB state is “Dirty Shutdown” and you are unable to change it using ESEUtil /R o /C (i.e. missing transaction logs).

    ESEUtil /P may lead to a useless loss of data if the DB is already in Clean Shutdown (or if it is in dirty shutdown and you could easily make it mountable by replaying the appropriate transaction logs)

    See (Exchange 2003 Disaster Recovery Operations Guide).


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