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Best way to reduce exchange database size in growing company

Posted on 2007-04-10
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As a growing company, out Exchange mail database is already over 30GB and I anticipate hitting the 75GB barrier in the next 6 months.  What techniques or software can I use to keep the database manageable.  

Running Exchange 2003 on Windows Server 2003.  Upgrading to Exchange 2007 is not an option at the moment.

There will be huge resistance to imposing quotas and/or deleting mail that is over a certain age.  I really want to stay away from users having PST files on their computers.  I've looked at Symantec Enterprise Vault, which looks like it may work for us, but I don't want to spend the money if there is a better/cheaper solution.
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Question by:beaugrc2007
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czcdct earned 500 total points
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GFI.com have a much better solution for a small, growing organisation. Since your issue appears to be space constraints because you haven't yet mentioned compliance, the GFI archiver is nicely priced for you.

I would agree that PST files are bad.
Can the users learn to send shortcuts or internal URLs instead of attachments?
Can you implement Mailbox Manager Recipient Policies or do the users "need" everything they generate?
In addition you may look at 2003 Enterprise which will allow you 20 stores at unlimited size. If your storage capacity is such and your backup windows are acceptable you might want to look at that. The price for this would be more than the archiving solution but the overall TCO would probably be less.
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by:beaugrc2007
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Compliance is not (yet) an issue.  I will definitely look at the GFI solution as well as 2003 Enterprise Edition.  Any other ideas?  Thanks.
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by:czcdct
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EAS from zantaz.com
www.quest.com
www.messageone.com

It's all down to your pocket. Now you've had a few pointers you could Google a bit more but there's four to choose from so it's up to you whether you think you need to look and evaluate any further.
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by:Icetoad
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Tell the users to save attachments from any emails and then delete the attachments within the emails, they can keep the email, just delete the attachment from it.  That would be the quickest way to get the db size down.  

I am willing to bet that most of that space is taken up by attachments.  Unless you have 2000+ users.
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by:czcdct
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"Tell the users to...." is just about the worst piece of advice you can give to anyone. You know full well the users will either ignore it or deluge you with "How do I......" calls.
Never leave it to the users. Always to a technological solution where the users don't even see it happen. You're happy, they're happy and the CFO is happy.
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by:beaugrc2007
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I am willing to bet that most of the space is taken up by attachment as well, but as czcdct says, 'telling the users...' isn't going to work well here.  I'm still open to other suggestions.  Thanks.
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by:czcdct
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And then you simply move your problem out of Exchange and onto your file servers. Then you're going to be back here in days saying "I am in version control hell, the same document name is everywhere, WTF do I do, etc. etc"
Not pretty, not pretty at all.
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by:Icetoad
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Its simple and free.  You say it doesnt work.. well if management supports it, it will work.  I do it where i work, my manager supports it, we use the exchange system manager to pick out those who use to much space then we come down on them.  As with ANY IT initiative, if management doesnt support it, it will most likely fail.  Give them your solutions and provide a price, then give them a price for the upgrade ( hardware and software ).  If they dont want to spend money, they will support your way.

I agree that exchange 2003 has much better management when it comes to attachments, as it stores the same file in one place and references it.  But you can always buy more disks and expand your raid array and it wont cost you a fortune.

You and your management have to come back to reality, if you want to reduce the size of the database, you have to enforce quotas, delete old emails over a certain size or older than a certain date.  If you do not want to do any of these things, then you are going to have to buy the enterprise version.

Version control.. sharepoint.  but that is more software.. just buy the enterprise version if your going to do that, unless you need the features that sharepoint has.

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by:Icetoad
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oh speaking of attachments, change the size allowed to 1 meg.  That should cut down on that quickly.
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by:beaugrc2007
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Icetoad, I appreciate your comments.  I am management and have final say in what we implement.  While I understand the conceptual need for IT controls, my style is to support the way that people work - not force them to conform to the way I want to impose things.

Are there any drawbacks to the Enterprise version of 2003?
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by:czcdct
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Only the cost. It's several times the price. But you do get 20 stores, none of which are limited in size.
You will need lots more disks to give you sensible resiliency so if the server can't take the hardware then you might need to have a look at the budget.
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by:Icetoad
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My suggestion, if your going with a large email deployment, use a SAN.  We currently use a SAN as do many other enterprises, they are fast, scalable and redundant.

My intention was not to belittle your position, i am IT management too.  However, i had to have support from the CEO before moving ahead with policies.  As for your style, to each his own.  It really depends on the companies atmosphere.  Yours is more open, i worked at a company like that, they ran out of space and decided to archive to pst files rather than upgrade.  We have enterprise where i am at, but being at not for profit, we got it cheap.

I agree 100%,  its a matter of company needs vs company cash flow vs company policy.  Its a balance you are in charge of IT wise.  

Comparisons: http://www.microsoft.com/uk/windowsserversystem/exchange/product-information/product-overview/edition-comparison.mspx

I dont know if you can buy 2003 anymore, you might be upgrading to 2007.
http://www.softwaremedia.com/product/103.html?ovchn=FRO&ovcrn=395-02831&ovtac=CMP&ovcpn=exchange-server-2003-enterprise-with-25-cals
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