Laeeq Qazi's Exchange Server Blog

Exchange Server blog

How to recreate Primary Hierarchy Public Folder Mailbox in Exchange 2013


Sometimes, in our lab, developers delete Primary Public Folder Hierarchy Mailbox by mistake, and after it, we cannot perform any public folder operation via PF cmdlets.

E.g. a get-publicFolder cmd thows this error:

[PS] C:\Windows\system32>Get-PublicFolder \ -GetChildren
Couldn't find the public folder mailbox.
+ CategoryInfo : NotSpecified: (:) [Get-PublicFolder], ObjectNotFoundException 


This is how I first confirm that ‘Primary Hierarchy Public Folder Mailbox’ has been deleted:

First I get the Primary Hierarchy PF mailbox using this command

Get-OrganizationConfig | FL RootPublicFolderMailbox

RootPublicFolderMailbox represents GUID of PF mailbox.

When I retrieved all PF Mailboxes, Guid of RootPublicFolderMailbox was not there:

Get-Mailbox –PublicFolder | FL Name,ExchangeGuid

which confirms that ‘Primary Hierarchy Public Folder Mailbox’ is no more in Exchange Server 2013, and someone has deleted it.

Recreation of Public Folder Hierarchy Mailbox:

The only way to recreate ‘Primary Hierarchy PF Mailbox’ I discovered via this helpful blog
which is to remove all Public folders, all Secondary Public Folder Mailboxes, but I was not able to remove Public Folders and getting this error.

[PS] C:\Windows\system32> Get-PublicFolder -Recurse | Remove-PublicFolder
Couldn't find the public folder mailbox.
+ CategoryInfo : NotSpecified: (:) [Get-PublicFolder], ObjectNotFoundException

So in the end, what I did was ‘Remove AD users associated with all Secondary PF Mailboxes using ‘Active Directory Users and Computers’ console.

For this, first I got the location of all secondary PF Mailboxes like this:

Get-Mailbox –PublicFolder | FL DistinguishedName

And then Removed the associated AD user using ADUC console, which subsequently disconnected all PF mailboxes.

Then I opened ADSIEdit.msc , and went to “Cn=Configuration” container, and browsed ‘Exchange Organization’ object’s properties, whose AD Path looks like this:

CN=OrganizationName,CN=Microsoft Exchange,CN=Services,CN=Configuration,DC=AdDomain,DC=lab

From properties of this object, I just cleared the value from the attribute ‘msExchDefaultPublicFolderMailbox’, which you can see is just a garbage.

Then I just re-created the Primary Hierarchy PF mailbox using this command:

New-Mailbox -PublicFolder -Name 'Primary Hierarchy PF Mailbox'

Then I recreated my secondary PF Mailboxes, and then created Public Folders.

Note: Please test this in a lab, before applying to production scenarios. Also, This doesnt recover existing Public folders.


December 26, 2013 - Posted by | Exchange 2013 | ,


  1. Perfect!!!!! Thanks this worked

    Comment by apinter | April 7, 2014 | Reply

    • Glad that it worked for you. You are welcome.

      Comment by exchangegeek | April 7, 2014 | Reply

  2. Works perfect! Thank you!

    Comment by Patrick | October 8, 2015 | Reply

    • Welcome. Pleased to know about it.

      Comment by exchangegeek | October 8, 2015 | Reply

  3. Good.. helped me.

    Comment by dellas | February 25, 2016 | Reply

  4. Deleting the users like U explained did the trick. Thanks!

    Comment by Bernie | February 19, 2017 | Reply

    • You are welcome. Glad that it helped you.

      Comment by exchangegeek | February 19, 2017 | Reply

  5. we did this but still needed to get data out of the public folder. The mailboxes are still there besides attempting a full restore is there a way to re-attach a public folder to the public folder mailbox?

    Comment by benzachary | January 5, 2018 | Reply

    • Hi,
      I already put a note at the end of my article that This doesnt recover existing Public folders.
      Even then, did you try to connect disconnected mailboxes with AD user, to enable disconnected PF mailboxes?
      I think there would be more than it to recover public folder data, but please give it a try.
      Laeeq Qazi

      Comment by exchangegeek | January 5, 2018 | Reply

      • What happened to us was everything continued to work, the disabled user accounts are still there and the public folder mailboxes are still there. a few weeks later everything just disappeared (tombstone we assume). So now we have Public Folders under the new ‘primary heirarchy’ and Public Folder Mailboxes with data in them and user accounts. We ended up just restoring from backup back into the new hierarchy, but obviously the data was still there. I think what we could have done instead looking back was since the primary hierarchy account was deleted accidentally, we could have simply made one of the other secondary the primary which had the same copy of the data. By making a brand NEW hierarchy everything was disconnected. I hope that helps people who read this in the future as an optional fix without restoring. Thank you for your follow up and this article definitely helped us on solving the issue.

        Comment by sup3rdup3r | January 7, 2018

      • You are welcome sup3rdup3r , glad that it helped you. And thanks for sharing your experience here.

        Comment by exchangegeek | January 10, 2018

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