Abhishek Bhowmick | SharePoint Blog

Exchange Public Folder vs SharePoint

Posted in Sharepoint by Abhishek Bhowmick on May 4, 2011

Why should you migrate your Exchange Public Folders to SharePoint?

SharePoint makes it easier for people to work together. Using SharePoint, users can set up sites to share information with others, manage documents from start to finish, and publish reports to help everyone make better decisions. The capabilities of SharePoint work together to help your team quickly respond to changing business needs. Using SharePoint, your people can share ideas and expertise, create custom solutions for specific needs, and find the right business information to make better decisions. SharePoint helps you cut training and maintenance costs, save time and effort, and focus on higher business priorities.

Here are some SharePoint positives:

  • Team Workspaces – SharePoint helps teams communicate and collaborate by providing easy access to people, documents and information.


  • Document Management – Public Folder were not designed for document sharing and collaboration. SharePoint provides versioning and other document management features, such as check-in and check-out functionality, and automatic notifications of content changes.


  • Workflow Applications – SharePoint provides many application templates that provide customer scenarios for building workflow on the SharePoint platform, to address specific business processes or sets of task.


  • Organizational Forms – Use of Microsoft InfoPath and InfoPath Forms Services which is an enhanced and rich user experience. Users can submit the forms which can be stored in SharePoint Form libraries for future collaboration and interaction.


Why is SharePoint recommended over Exchange Server Public Folder?


  • Collaboration – Public Folders are not efficiently interactive and collaborative as SharePoint. SharePoint provides a web interface for your data to be shared across based on permission and full compatibility with your Microsoft Office. This enables you to directly interact with your files without having them downloaded locally and use the check-out and check-in feature which is quite common.


  • Storing large files is not an efficient use of public folders.


  • Search – SharePoint can crawl Exchange Server Public Folders however only the data within Public Folder messages or attachments with the supported filters can be indexed. When we refer to filters, we are referring to iFilters which are used to register file extensions so files can be recognized and indexed. While SharePoint includes filters for HTML, TIFF, text files and Microsoft file extensions. PSTs or private mailboxes cannot be crawled though. Hence, search is more efficient in SharePoint.


What are the limitations in SharePoint after migrating from Exchange Public Folders?


· Outlook is fully integrated with Exchange compared to SharePoint. Unlike SharePoint – which requires users to connect individual lists and libraries on a one-by-one basis, multiple connections to Exchange are already built in to the Outlook client. For example, there’s no need to connect to individual public folders within Exchange, since they’re all simultaneously connected through the public folder hierarchy exposed in Exchange.


· There are naming restrictions within SharePoint that don’t exist in Exchange. In particular, SharePoint URLs are limited to 255 characters and file names must be free of special characters. This was listed as a consideration for migrating public folders to SharePoint, but it’s also a constraint on using SharePoint more generally for other purposes.


· Mail-enabled SharePoint Document Library’s – While these libraries can store any document type, e-mail sent to mail-enabled document libraries usually show up in .eml format (Outlook Express format). If you try to open the .eml file from the document library, it will open using the web browser and will only contain the message body (no header or attachment). You can create your own application to convert to .msg format, or you can search on the web and find any number of .eml to .msg converter utilities.


· Unlike Public Folders, email interactivity will not be preserved in SharePoint after migration. This means you can of course create an email enabled document library and route emails and attachments to it but cannot reply or forward from being inside SharePoint. You must have Outlook installed to open the files externally and then interact.


One Response

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  1. mk said, on January 24, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Can SharePoint 2007 crawl .oft (Outlook Organizationa Form) file? I seem can’t find any info on this..thx

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