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Removing an orphant Public Folder-database

Posted on 2009-04-16
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I added a new Exchange 2007 SP1 Mailbox-server to our existing Exchange 2007 environment. As I am fairly new to the whole concept of Exchange I created a Public Folder-database on the new server to get a hang of how things work.

However, as I try to delete the new PF-database I receive the following error:
"The public folder database "LANC-MBX02V\First Storage Group\Public Folder Database" contains folder replicas. Before deleting the public folder database, remove the folders or move the replicas to another public folder database. For detailed instructions about how to remove a public folder database, see http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=81409."

Having googled the problem I understand that one cannot delete a PF-database unless empty. The new PF-database contains an empty "Default Public Folders"-object and a somewhat populated "System Public Folders"-object. The database has been mounted once but never "used".

All the KB's, forums and articles I've read talk about moving the replicas to another PF-database but is that really needed? Can't I just remove all the content in that PF-database or will it damage the rest of the Exchange Organization? If removal does no harm, how would I go about to do this?

Thanks in advance!

Best regards,
Tanel
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Question by:NordCap
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Expert Comment

by:Mestha
ID: 24163081
There will be folders under the public or system folders. Those must have replicas on them. You can remove those. As long as you haven't added the new server to the list of replicas then it shouldn't cause a problem with the production system.

Simon.
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Author Comment

by:NordCap
ID: 24165714
"As long as you haven't added the new server to the list of replicas..." - That would mean manual  involment right? Have I understood it correctly that in order to do that I would personally have needed to go into a used production PF-database and assign the new server to the list of replicas?

As I look at the new PF-database it has been populated with all the content of the production PF-database overnight. And if I look at the properties of e.g. "Events root" on the new server the old server is on the replication list. However, I can't find the new server in any replicatin list on the old server.

So is it still safe to delete the folders on the new PF-database and having the production one not affected?¨

Thanks!
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Expert Comment

by:Mestha
ID: 24166700
Do ensure that you are looking at the right database, as Exchange does not replicate a new public folder database on its own. You have to add the new server to the list of replicas. The Public Folder management tool though can connect to another server.

Some folders are system folders, they are unique to each server and are not replicated off. You need to use the removerepliaca script from the Scripts folder in the Exchange install to remove all of the replicas.

Simon.
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Author Comment

by:NordCap
ID: 24167198
I am indeed looking at the right database, and somehow the content of the production PF-database is now found in the new PF-database as well. Both content under "Default Public Folders" and "System Public Folders".

Basically what I've done is:
1) Created a new Storage Group.
2) Created a new PF-database in the above mentioned SG.
3) Mounted the new PF-database.
4) Set "Replication interval" to "Never Run" on the new PF-database (was "Always Run" previously).

I have now also created a "Test"-folder in the production PF-database to see if it get's replicated to the new PF-database, and it does. And deleting it on the new PF-database gets it deleted on the production PF-database. I would assume that the replication started when the new PF-database was first mounted because it was set to "Always Run". And that I couldn't delete the new PF-database as the replication was running.

So how do I get rid of the second (new) PF-database while leaving the original content intact on the old production server?
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Expert Comment

by:Mestha
ID: 24175573
The public folder data doesn't replicate on its own. You haven't used the same name as a previous server that may have been listed on the replica tab of the original server?

You are going to have to check and remove the replicas. That is best done on the Exchange 2003 server. Check some of the folders manually to see if the new server is listed. If it is, then use the removereplica script that I mentioned before to remove the replica from the list and then wait.

Simon.
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Author Comment

by:NordCap
ID: 24178756
That server name has never been used before, that I can promise. I can't really explain how this happened as the guy who deployed Exchange moved to Dubai a year ago and is now unreachable.

We don't have any Exchange 2003 servers at all, it's a pure Exchange 2007 SP 1-environment but as I understand we still need a PF-database because of some Outlook 2003 and Entourage-users.

I have checked the folders manually on the old server and the new server isn't listed anywhere, only old server itself can sometimes be listed (which I understand is normal).
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Expert Comment

by:Mestha
ID: 24179163
The content doesn't appear on the new server on its own, and can only appear on the server if it is replicated to the server. If the new server is not listed as a replica then it simply cannot be there, and I have to presume that you are looking at the properties of the wrong server.

The existing server should be listed on public and system folders to allow them to work correctly. All public and system folders should have at least one server listed as a replica.

You are correct that you need public folders unless you are pure Outlook 2007. Older versions of Outlook and Mac require public folder content.

Simon.
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Author Comment

by:NordCap
ID: 24179173
Also, the PF-database isn't used in the traditional meaning, just for system-related features like OAB and etc. Could one delete all PF-databases and create a new one that will automatically get repopulated with OAB and all the other Outlook2003/Entourage-related objects?
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Author Comment

by:NordCap
ID: 24179221
Simon, I understand that you are one of the very best when it comes to Exchange-related issues but I've double checked everything I could think of before posting here and the content does get replicated to the new server without it being on any list. Yes, I know it shouldn't but it does. I do know how to press "Connect to server...", if you still don't believe me and if you're interested enough I could show you this behavior with the help of some desktop sharing. I do appreciate the time you're taking to help me in this matter.
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Expert Comment

by:Mestha
ID: 24179466
Do you have any regular public folders, or just system folders on that public folder system?
System folders are unique to every server and will appear on all servers with public folder store.
Regular public folders (ie what you see in Outlook under public folders) will not replicate on their own.

If it is just SYSTEM folders we are talking about, then you need to remove those using the script that I have already mentioned before you can drop the public folder store.

Simon.

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Author Comment

by:NordCap
ID: 24179706
No, I'm talking about content in both the "Default Public Folders"-tree and the "System Public Folders"-tree. Content in "Default Public Folders"-tree gets replicated to the new server even tho the new server is not listed for replication.

If we skip the "why/how does this happen" and maybe try to find a work-around; the "Default Public Folders"-tree contains a few folders but these folders themselves are empty. Hence I assume they are not used. If I were to remove both PF-databases and create a new one, would the new database contain all the now existing System-data?
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Accepted Solution

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Mestha earned 2000 total points
ID: 24179837
The only folder that could go in to the Default Public Folders tree is Internet Newsgroups, no others should be able to get in there on their own. While I appreciate that you want to skip the why/how, the point is, that behaviour should not be happening, and if you are seeing it, then something is wrong, which may well stop you from being able to remove that public folder store.

Exchange will not allow you to remove that public folder store while there are folders in that store. It is a hard failure. The folders have to be removed. Deleting the database directly with a stopped Exchange server will also not work because the references to the folders will still be in Exchange and the Active Directory domain. They need to be removed correctly.

There is a long post on the MSEXEXCHANGE team blog about removing a public folder store here: http://msexchangeteam.com/archive/2007/07/09/445967.aspx
and this was followed up by this post here: http://msexchangeteam.com/archive/2007/11/13/447521.aspx

Now while both of those are valid, the concern has to be that something isn't quite right with the public folders because content is being replicated to them on their own. Do be sure that it is content - use

get-publicfolderstatistics -server exchserver

(where exchserver is the name of the server that you want to check) to see if the folders have any content, or not.

Simon.
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Author Comment

by:NordCap
ID: 24209872
It seems like you were right Simon, my bad, and for that I apologize. I didn't know that when you connect to a PF-database via GUI it will show content from the other servers as well, even if that content is not stored on the db you connected to.

Thank you very much for your help! :-)
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Author Closing Comment

by:NordCap
ID: 31571191
Thank you for your patience!
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