For an Exchange 2016 migration, the public folder migration options depend on which version of Exchange you’re migrating from:

  • If you are migrating modern public folders from Exchange 2013 to Exchange 2016, you can simply move the public folder mailboxes just as you would migrate any other mailbox
  • If you are migrating legacy public folders from Exchange 2010, then the process is more complicated

Keep in mind that if your organization has no need for legacy public folder data, you can simply remove your legacy public folders completely, instead of migrating them. If you later have a need for public folders, you can create modern public folders in Exchange 2016 at that time.

To migrate legacy public folders from Exchange 2010, a procedure called a batch migration is performed. At a high level the process involves:

  1. Downloading scripts from Microsoft
  2. Preparing the organization for public folder migration
  3. Generating CSV files using the Microsoft scripts
  4. Creating public folder mailboxes in Exchange 2016 databases
  5. Starting the migration, and waiting for initial synchronization to complete
  6. Locking the public folders for final migration (this requires an outage, usually of at least an hour, but longer for very large environments)
  7. Finalize the public folder migration
  8. Testing modern public folders, and then unlocking them for access by users (the outage is now over)

The public folder migration process is one-way only. Once you’re using modern public folders, any changes or new data can’t be synchronized back to the legacy public folder databases. This means that if you encounter a problem that requires you to roll back to your legacy public folders, you’ll lose any new or changed data in the modern public folders (unless you take steps to back it up or copy it somewhere else). So from a risk management perspective, you should take the time to understand your public folder usage scenarios so that they can be tested thoroughly before a large amount of new data is generated in the modern public folders post-migration.

Microsoft maintains the most up to date guidance for legacy public folder migration to Exchange 2016 on TechNet, which you can find here. You can also see an example for migrating legacy public folders to Exchange 2013 here, which is an almost identical process.

After you’ve completed your public folder migration, you can begin decommissioning your legacy Exchange servers, which I’ll cover in the final part of this series.

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About the Author

Paul Cunningham

Paul is a former Microsoft MVP for Office Apps and Services. He works as a consultant, writer, and trainer specializing in Office 365 and Exchange Server. Paul no longer writes for


  1. Daisho

    Hi, sorry to bother but i have to move the public folders form a Exchange 2013 to another Exchange 2013: do i have to use prepare-moverequest.ps1 for the public folders too? I was only able to find guide from legacy public folders to modern but not modern-to-modern

    Thank you very much

  2. Trev

    When migrating Public Mailboxes from 2013 to 2016, does it need to be done in any specific order of hierarchy i.e, primary first then secondary ? Also, can this be done in phases and not all at once so that it is done over several days or weekends.

  3. Prashant N


    I am planning migrate from Exchange 2010 SP3 RU29 to Exchange 2016. I dont have any user / admin created Public Folders. The way I checked this is MMC-> Add/Remove Snap-in-> Select “Public Folder Management Console Snap-in”, Click on Add -> Right Click on the Public folders Icon in the MMC and Click on Connect to Server ->
    I have no content / list in the “Default Public Folders”
    The “System Public Folders” has listing of : “EFORMS REGISTRY” , “OFFLINE ADDRESS BOOK” and “SCHEDULE+ FREE BUSY”

    Should these be migrated OR not?

  4. Neil


    After migrating our 2010 PFs to 2016 successfully we are findiing that public folders that previously were configured with auto-reply, are no longer auto-replying. Our emails arrive in the PF fine but there are no auto replies for internal or external emials. Auto forward/reply is enabled at the Org level and I have removed and re-added the folder assist configuration that was previously working however still no joy. I then thought I might be able to use Set-MailboxAutoReplyConfiguration but of course the command returns an error as it does not locate a user object in AD relating to the PF email address.

    Is PF auto reply possible in Ex 16? If so please can you advise how?

    Many thanks


    Firtst of all I want to give you a milion thanks for your very helpful articles!
    I have just completed migration of Exchange 2010 to 2016 with public folders containing folders with Greek names(Beleive me,that was a nightmare!!!).
    When I run get-organizationconfig|fl *public* I get these results on new Exchange 2016.

    DefaultPublicFolderAgeLimit :
    DefaultPublicFolderIssueWarningQuota : Unlimited
    DefaultPublicFolderProhibitPostQuota : Unlimited
    DefaultPublicFolderMaxItemSize : Unlimited
    DefaultPublicFolderDeletedItemRetention : 30.00:00:00
    DefaultPublicFolderMovedItemRetention : 7.00:00:00
    PublicFoldersLockedForMigration : True
    PublicFolderMigrationComplete : True
    PublicFolderMailboxesLockedForNewConnections : False
    PublicFolderMailboxesMigrationComplete : False
    PublicFoldersEnabled : Local
    PublicComputersDetectionEnabled : False
    RootPublicFolderMailbox : d45bc68e-3031-437f-bf55-afc8768bc9df
    RemotePublicFolderMailboxes : {}

    I have I little question:
    Should the PublicFolderMailboxesMigrationComplete be in false status?
    Is this correct?

    Thanks in advance,

  6. Phuong, Nguyen Van

    Dear Paul
    I have just migration Exchange 2010 co-exist to Exchange 2016
    My organization has no need for legacy public folder data in Exchange 2010
    I have not been yet migration Public folder from 2010 to 2016. However public folder unused folder and no data in Exchange 2010. I want to ask me to remove the old Exchange server 2010 without moving public exchange 2010 to 2016 was not whether there is an error and what is not.
    Many thanks

    1. jimmy

      agreed, no mention what happens if you are not running public folders? do we still have to migrate them? can we just delete the public folder database?

      1. Bill

        If you don’t need them, you can delete them. See the paragraph after the bullet points near top:

        “Keep in mind that if your organization has no need for legacy public folder data, you can simply remove your legacy public folders completely, instead of migrating them. “

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