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Exchange 2003 running very slow

oldsmurf asked
I have a Small Business Server 2003 with 5-10 users. Some of theese users run Windows and Outlook, the rest use Macintosh and IMAP. The server is a Xeon 3.0GHz with 1gb ram and two mirrored disks with one partition.

The system is mainly used as an Exchange server for email but also runs a SQL server and a application used by three of the users. It does not take very much resources at all.

In the last few days we've experienced that the system is running very slow. My investigations have showed that high I/O is the cause of the slowness, but I have not found a solution. The problem seems to be Exchange.

Using File Monitor from Sysinternals I've found that store.exe is accessing c:\windows\temp with OPEN, DIRECTORY and then CLOSE up to ten times every second. Why? store.exe is also heavily reading from priv1.stm and writing to different tempfiles in c:\windows\temp.

priv1.stm is 2gb, priv1.edb 2,8gb. The largest mailbox contains about 2000 mails and is over 700mb. Next in line has 750 mails.

Is my problem simply too many stored mails? I would not think that I have too many users.
I know from my investigations that I should've used different partitions for Exchange, but here I am and I would prefer not to reinstall the whole system.

So what can or should I do?
Move c:\program files\exchsrv\mdbdata to a new disk?
Add more memory?

Something else?

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IT manager
what is your memory doing atm? ie how much is each app using?

can you do a tasklist /svc under cmd and post it here pls?

you dont have too many mails (my server is using 29Gb stores atm and i know MUCH bigger ones)

it is advised you have your log files and data files on 2 seperate physical disk too.

What is the SQL server for, can it be relocated?  Having two db applications (exchange/sql) on a single server can get very disk intensive, in this case be sure you have seperate physical disk drives for each database.  Also, check to see that the IMAP connected clients aren't contributing to the slow down as it takes more overhead for this type of access vice mapi.


Right now all clients are disconnected so that I could do some testing on the server.
I have attached the output from "tasklist" showing memory usage and "tasklist /svc" but will do it again tomorrow when the clients are back online.

Earlier today store.exe used about 250mb and sql about 100mb, but as I said I'll post again tomorrow.

Do you mean one disk for log files and one for data files or do you mean two mirrored disk with both on?



The SQL server is an application used by the sellers to calculate prices and work orders. We don't have another server for it, so unless we need to buy another server we can't move it. It is not heavily used though.

I'll check to see if it works better with the IMAP clients turned off. Thanks!
Based on your output, I would say it has to do with the disk drive access...you mentioned a high I/O before.  Remember that you have the OS, the Pagefile, the databases for exchange (presumably only one at this time), the transaction logs for exchange, SQL database, SQL transaction logs.  In a perfect world you would want each of these items on it's own physical disk -- meaning seperate physical drive, as in one hard drive or one mirrored set, or one raid set per item.  You probably don't have this option so I would recommend buying as many hard drives as your server can handle and redirecting the exchange database to one, the exchange transaction logs to another and the pagefile & sql transaction logs to another.


I promised an update when the machine is running slow. Here is the results.

I also added two new scsi disks in raid mirror and moved all Exchange storage there. It seems to help, but I will keep this question open for a few days to monitor. Feel free to come with additional suggestions and questions!


Are you still experiencing problems? I have seen this happen on two separate sbs servers. I am 99% certain the problem is caused by the Macs accessing email. The first setup I saw had about 6 Macs picking up mail from the sbs server via POP3 using Mac Mail and one Mac using Entourage, I moved the exchange store onto a separate hard disk which improved performance but it didn't fully solve the problem. While the rest of the system improved, mail access was still poor. The second setup had been running with no problems for a couple of years when one Mac using Mac Mail and IMAP4  was added and within a week or 2 each time the Mac connects to the server the whole server slows to a crawl. In the first setup I'm fairly sure it wasn't the Macs connecting using POP3 that were the problem it seemed to be the one using Entourage. While I agree the problem does seem to be disk access surely one Mac collecting email should not be having such a profound effect!


The problems seems to be solved.

(It is still accessing %TEMP% several times per second even while there are no users connected which is odd, but everything works like it should)

Tim's hints about sbs vs. mac are new to me. I've never even thought about it. I will investigate what clients they are using if this problem arises again.

Thanks all.

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