Public folders were introduced in the first version of Exchange Server. They provide an easy and efficient way of collecting and sharing information with people in your workgroup or organization. These folders are stored in dedicated databases. The important thing to understand here is that public folders aren’t designed for archiving data.
Users who have mailbox limits sometimes use public folders instead of their personal folders (.pst) files to archive data. This is not a good practice because it limits storage of the public folders. Secondly public folders aren’t designed for document sharing and collaboration.
Public folders don’t provide versioning or other document management features, such as controlled check-in and check-out functionality, and automatic notifications of content changes. Microsoft has removed public folders from office 365 for the simple reason that it is not the best file sharing solution.
Public Folders is one of the major issues that block migrations for many companies who run on-premises Exchange as they consider their future plans. According to Microsoft, SharePoint Online is a potential repository to replace Public Folders. Given that there is no seamless migration facility incorporated into Exchange that is capable of moving everything without operator intervention, it’s important to realize that any migration to SharePoint Online requires substantial effort from someone with knowledge about the purpose of public folders, working of the public folders in Exchange and a working knowledge of how to develop applications in SharePoint Online.
Third party applications that provide public folders type functionality is vorApps from a vendor named Vorsite. vorApps is designed for SharePoint online in Office 365. It is a simple cloud application to manage information with Microsoft SharePoint Online. vorApps for SharePoint Online delivers a simple email enabled information storage solution leveraging the power of Microsoft SharePoint Online. Through simple automation, knowledge is captured, searchable and accessible through SharePoint.
Instantly your workers create an alternate secure location to shared inboxes. Whether team members are in the next room or on the next continent, the powerful combination of automation and storage drives business efficiencies and builds a more agile organization. It features email enabled libraries and lists, archiving options, email and fax automation and lastly a public folders like experience. According to critics, a shared mailbox can be a good replacement for a Public Folder.
It can store contacts and calendars easily and it can be automatically mapped to all users’ Outlook profiles. This is done by creating a SharePoint list and then giving user’s full access to Calendar and Contact Public Folders. It is important to note here that it is possible to move SharePoint list to mobile devices but manual configuration is needed for that.