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Question - Large Exchange/Outlook OST/PST files How to Manage Mailboxes?

Running Exchange 2003 Enterprise on Windows 2003 Enterprise SP1. 40 or so users and the entire priv1.edb/priv1.stm = 201 GB/36 GB respectively. There are about 2 users with 30 GB mailboxes, 3 with 20 GB, 10 with 10 GB, and about 15 with between 10-19 GB. A lot of the users claim they need to retain their messages and have a bad habit of not saving attachments and removing the message.

Just wanted to gauge other peoples opinions on what I should do to help clean up Exchange and the mail server. I started setting PST with some users and archiving, but even still their PSTs were 8 GB is size...

Please help.
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RTM2007
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RTM2007
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5 Solutions
 
tlbrittainCommented:
This becomes a policy issue, I would implement a policy to begin bringing down the size of their mailbox.  It is your job as the administrator to manage and maintain the network.  The 30 GB mailboxes are absolutely ridiculous, These users need to create PSTs and find another place to save their attachments.  The reason they have mailboxes of that size is because no one has told them no!  That is your job, decide what is an acceptable limit based off the available storage space and the amount of users currently as well as leaving room for potential growth.

Do not let the users tell you what they "Need" You need to make the call and if you report to someone (if they are not IT savvy) propose a plan that will "lower the overall storage utilization and increase the effectiveness of network operations"  this will sound good to them (hopefully gaining their backing) and will allow you to begin gaining control of your network.
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ashutosh_kumarCommented:
I too agree with tlbrittain!!!
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RTM2007Author Commented:
In my own defense, I was just brought on board 2 weeks ago, so all these changes I'm "implementing and proposing" they have never heard of.

Presumably why the prior IT director is no longer here.

Additionally I wanted to see if anyone had any tips on what the best practice may be aside from segmenting PST/archived items and clean up. My "goal" is to educate the users enough to get the store down to an average of < 5 GB not a norm of 10-30 GB mailboxes.
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ashutosh_kumarCommented:
I would recommend to give at the max 200 MB of MailBox.

Tell your users to add a PST file, and set the default mail delivery location to their PST. Also, tell them to delete the mails even from the PST if they are holding it just for the attachment.
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tlbrittainCommented:
The policy I use is 75MB for the average user and 150MB for VIP (your Execs, CEOs for example)  Now that is very strict but we make it work by clearly stating what our policy is and offering an alternative (PST) and provide the instruction on how to create one and reconfigure it to outlook if they use another CPU.  Now do your users bounce from computer to computer?  

Are users sending out attachments in e-mails to 15 different people, all of which have access to the same network drives?  
Do you even have network drives?  If so here is another policy you can enforce:
Don't allow attachments over X size to be sent via e-mail and make the users aware of the policy that they should save the proposed attachment to the network drive and instead send a link to the document.

The downside for you is that it is now clean up time and you will receive flack when you tell them especially the 30GB users that they have to cut down the size of their mailbox.

You decide what size mail box you want, I do recommend cutting attachments from e-mails (this is your biggest problem) write your policy of "Acceptable Use" this policy can be broad to cover Network drives, e-mail storage, general computer use.  It will be a start.  Get the approval of your superior if he is one of the culprits then inform him how this can affect the business (inform him of potential costs to and downtime if you have to increase disk space on the exchange server).  Give the users a time line and do not deviate from it to reduce the size of their mailbox.  Say reduce it by 2-5GB per week until it is under your desired limit and once there strictly enforce the limit.  I agree with ashutosh Kumar on the 200MB that is a goal you could work towards but due to where the limits are now that should only be a future goal.
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tlbrittainCommented:
Has your question been answered?  
If not let us know where you are running into road bumps so we can help.
If so award the points to the appropriate individual (if solution was provided to you).
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RTM2007Author Commented:
Yes and no...

I would still like to gauge some opinions on how I should manage existing users whose mailboxes are 11 GB on AVERAGE...

I would say obviously export to PST, but doesn't it start causing problems after 2 GB and so on?

Also to those that are using PST files, how are you backing them up? Simple Scheduled Task?
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tlbrittainCommented:
Honestly for the users who still have 11GB mailboxes they need to clean up their mailbox and start deleting files.  Unless these are in fact work related e-mails that they cannot do without then they should be deleting them.  The only 3 options I see for you is:
1. Have the user's create multiple PST files
2. Have the user's start deleting non-essential e-mails (e-mails that are not work related)
3. Continue to let them maintain large mailbox's on your Exchange server.

As for backing up the PST files, it depends on where you are saving them.  Locally on the user's PC, Server side on a network share...Do you currently have a backup solution?  If not, Windows has a backup utility built in...
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RTM2007Author Commented:
My goal was to get everyone down to about 5 GB, and I've been segmenting PST file so that they are archived locally by year (Ex. 2006, 2005).

I was first concerend with storing them on the file server for network throughput and connectivity problems. Does anyone have problems with having 2+ GB PST files on network shares?

Otherwise I was just going to have it so a script closes outlook and the PSTs get copied to a default folder on the network for backups evey month or so.
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tlbrittainCommented:
I think you have a good plan and should run with it.  In my setup we have our PSTs stored on space that is allocated to each individual user.  This allows us to include the PSTs for backup along with the rest of our file server.
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RTM2007Author Commented:
Are you using just a regular Scheduled Task (ex. xcopy/NTbackup) to run the PST over to the server?

How big is too big for PST files before they start getting unmanagable?
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tlbrittainCommented:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/830336

"By default, .pst files are in the Unicode format in Outlook 2007 and in Outlook 2003. Additionally, the overall size of the .pst files has a limit that is more than the 2-GB limit that is imposed by the ANSI .pst files. By default, the limit for a Unicode .pst file in Outlook 2007 and in Outlook 2003 is configured to be 20 GB."

I do see the 2 GB limit...but have never experienced a PST corrupting...

as for Backups we use Veritas Backup Exec.
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tlbrittainCommented:
Here's another link on PST size re-iterating the above.

http://email.about.com/od/outlook/f/pst_size_limit.htm
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