Public Folders in Microsoft Exchange Server can truely mean the difference between driving a beat down car from 1994 or cruising around in an Audi S4 like Carlos does. When used right your company can benefit greatly. When used wrong you'll need tools like PFDAVAdmin to save your behind.
The people at Microsoft gave us the public information store to store items that most of your users need to use. E-mailitems that only need to be used by some people can better be shared using mailbox rights and such. I've also seen Exchange systems administrators put items in the public information store to lower the size of their private information store. Luckily for them Microsoft raised the licensed database size for Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Standard Edition with ServicePack 2.
Public Folders are different from mailboxes, but they are also very different from 'normal folders'. When sharing normal folders you can specify an ACL in terms of 'read', 'modify' and 'full control' (among others). In public folders you specify roles, like 'owner' and 'author'. You can also specify custom roles.
With Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Microsoft blessed systems administrators with Volume Shadow Copies. These are splendid (when used right) but Public Folders already had this feature, which was called 'Deleted item retention'.
What PFDAVAdmin can do for you
PFDAVAdmin is short for "Microsoft Exchange Server Public Folder DAV-Based Administration Tool". It uses Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning, which we all know and came to love as WebDAV and presents you with a fully functional Grpahical User Interface (GUI) to programmaticaly cause mayhem to your Public Folder hierarchy, contents and (of course) security.
Here are some of the ways you can use PFDAVAdmin:
Restoring deleted items
In Knowledgebase article 924044 Microsoft explains how you can put PFDAVAdmin to work to recover deleted public folder items in Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server and Exchange server 2003.
Bulk Modifying Public Folder attributes, (D)ACL's and ACE's
Another neat way of using PFDAVAdmin is to administer public folder (Discretionary) Access Control Lists, Access Control Entries and other attributes, like limits. You'll find an example for the use of PFDAVAdmin in Knowledgebase article 924261 which outlines how to grant everyone reviewer calendar permissions on everybody's calendar in a Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 setup.
With PFDAVAdmin you can even exceed the limits imposed by the Exchange System Manager user interface for values on the Limits tab! This might not be what you want, because you won't be able to read them back without a hotfix in the System Manager tool, but it's cool you can, when you really need to.
These functions are all described in the PFDAVAdmin.doc file you receive when you download the PFDAVAdmin package, which is linked at the end of this post.
If Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 ServicePack 2 didn't fulfill your Public Folder management wishes be sure to take a look at PFDAVAdmin. You won't have to mind keeping the CTRL button trick secret too: that stuff is standard when using this tool!
Download PFDAVAdmin here.