We take our disaster recovery very seriously and like to think that we’re prepared for most eventualities. Exchange 2003 Recovery Storage Groups make it very easy to recover mailbox stores, specific mailboxes and even specific messages but what options do we have for public folders?
Firstly you should have deleted item retention enabled on your public folder stores. That can get you out of a hole when someone deletes something they shouldn’t. However, if you need messages or folders restored prior to your retention period your options are limited.
An approach that we’ve used very successfully here is ‘Alternate Server Recovery’. The basic concept is to install a an entirely independent forest and Exchange org on a DR server. The AD domain and server can be called anything you like but the Exchange org and Administrative Group names must be the same as your live system. You’ll also need to change the LegacyExchangeDN attribute by following this article. Once everything is in place you’ll be able to restore and mount a backup of your public folder store, then simply connect an Outlook client and export any folders or messages that you need to PST.