Shared mailboxes give you options without needing to buy more licences.
While the title of this article may sound like the subject line of a spam email, there is no catch. Many users of Office 365 do not know that they can create more mailboxes than they have users. How is this done? Through a feature called a shared mailbox.
Effectively a shared mailbox is almost identical to a normal mailbox except for a few key differences:
- It is limited to 5GB
- It does not require a user licence per mailbox (i.e. no cost)
- The mailbox itself does not have a username or password, therefore it requires a full Exchange Online licensed user account to be able to access it (i.e. no POP3, IMAP or access by Kiosk users)
There are many purposes for a shared mailbox. One of the more common applications is for customers who have migrated from an older version of Exchange Server and no longer have Public Folder functionality.
Shared mailboxes are more than a mere Public Folder replacement as they have the same structure as a normal mailbox, meaning they also have their own contacts, calendars, tasks, notes and journal. It is completely up to you as to which features you use.
Creating a shared mailbox is not for the average user or even Office 365 administrator. They can only be created via Remote PowerShell which can be a strange concept for most small businesses or their IT partners.
If you are not comfortable performing this task yourself or your IT partner hasn’t done it before, seek out a Microsoft Office 365 specialised partner on the Office 365 Marketplace.
Loryan Strant is a Microsoft Office 365 MVP (Most Valuable Professional). Follow him on Twitter @TheCloudMouth.