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Exchange database size limit at 75 GB

My SBS 2003 server's Exchange database is not far from the 75 GB limit. I was thinking of ways to decrease the mail but I wasn't sure what would really work for my organization long term. Right now when users near the mailbox limit they archive their mail out of Exchange to a PST. This is becoming increasingly taxing for several reasons. 1) I have a bunch of PST files now taking up an incredible amount of space through my storage servers, and 2) not all of them are in the same place and there is no written procedure for doing so.

What I was thinking of doing in place of archiving mail was to departmentalize the Exchange Database First Storage Group, and make Sales Storage Group, Marketing Storage Group, IT Department Storage Group, etc. The real question is can I do this in SBS, and should I do this? Are there going to be negative results or performance hits? I am running Symantec Enterprise with Mail Security. Will my actions or decision to do this cause any issues with my Mail Security software?
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Dave Stringfellow
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I would invest in some  archiving software, and setup a dedicated Storage and SQL server fo this. Have a look at the GFI Mail archiver (30 day trial) or the baracuda Mail archiving Solution (seperate box for this).

Or your users could learn to delete some of the usless crap :P i hever never seen an SBS at 75Gb before, im impressed :)
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How do big companies handle mail storage? I mean in a Exchange Enterprise server is the limit still at 75 GB? I can't imagine that large companies have one Exchange server per 75 GB of storage do they?
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And if they do I recommend a database to enter all of the pertinent information into if it's reoccurring
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I don't know if that truly resolves both of my current issues though. I have to figure out what to do with the PST files that are already scattered and taking up tons of room, and a good procedure for future archiving should we continue to do archiving.

It really sounds like additional storage groups would be easier, allow for the storage of much more mail. I don't full understand why you recommended against it. Is it that you have never performed such a procedure or that you have encountered problems? You mentioned the word "nightmare" which is why I ask.
I'm thinking that we are discussing two different things.  Are you considering having multiple Mailstores?
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I am discussing both.

"What I was thinking of doing in place of archiving mail was to departmentalize the Exchange Database First Storage Group, and make Sales Storage Group, Marketing Storage Group, IT Department Storage Group, etc. The real question is can I do this in SBS, and should I do this? Are there going to be negative results or performance hits? I am running Symantec Enterprise with Mail Security. Will my actions or decision to do this cause any issues with my Mail Security software?"

If I caused any confusion I apologize. Really I could go either way, and since the organization of all the PST files is truly the problem it seems at least initially that creating several stores maybe the better solution. That would allow me to have multiple stores all with a 75 GB limit. The downside is I don't know too much other than how to actually do it. What I mean is I know how to create the different stores, move the mail boxes, etc. What I do know is if there are any problems in doing this, and if SBS will allow it. I know if I have a Standard or Enterprise Exchange server I could but I am unsure if SBS will allow this. I couldn't find any documentation on it.

I'd like to learn more about this in relation to SBS to truly make the best decision. If archiving is the way to go, so be it. I just want to make sure I am making the right decision.
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I understand that it's not pratical at times to upgrade your infrastructure to Enterprise solutions.  It maybe in this instance that you can approach the "powers that be", and tell them that unless they are ready to spend alot of money, it may be just easier to finally delete or archive off system.  You can not exceed the 75GB limit.  You have two options either move off system or spend mucho dinero in upgrades.  
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Well lets expand on the Enterprise option. If a company had multiple servers, wouldn't one server have one store and another sever have it's own store. When you move setup the stores you assign mailboxes to a server/store so mail it routed accordingly right? I just want to be sure I understand how stores work.
If you have multiple standard edition servers then you can have a store on each server. That is not a problem and Exchange will route email to the correct server and store automatically. When you create an account you choose which server and which store to assign them to.

Simon.
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Does SBS allow for the use of additional Exchange servers?
You can have additional Exchange servers if you wish. The SBS CALs are not legal for those additional servers so you have to purchase full product licenses.

Simon.
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Simon would you have a good "How to" documents on mailbox management? I ran a test on my test network to just report on the amount of mail and how old the mail was and it processed mail instead of reporting. I can't figure out what I did wrong. I may need to make a new post.

I guess I am going to have to force people to clean up, and archive. I don't see a way around Archiving, but I don't think I want users doing it themselves any more. The biggest problem I have right now is that they did, and they pulled them out of exchange and put them on my file servers and still actively use and connect to them!
Have you done an offline defrag of your email database?
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I thought the automatic defrag the Exchange database that is performed daily is sufficient and compacts the free space? What is the difference between the online and offline? I supposed offline would allow for more in depth?

I'm actually not sure how to do a offline defrag. Any how to you can provide would be great.
An online defrag marks the space that was used by deleted items as white space so that it can be used again. It does not shrink the physical size of the database.
An offline defrag actually reduces the physical size of the database.

Offline defrag should not be considered something that needs to be done regularly.

Simon.
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How often should it be done Simon? Is it a done on a needed basis or because of a specific reason? I wasn't sure what to make of that comment as you said it shouldn't regularly but you didn't specify why?
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If you have been running your server for a couple of years with Exchange.  It makes sense to run the offline Defrag every six monthes based on the size of your infrastructure.  Simon is correct in saying that it is not a standard maintenance task, however it does compact the database by clearing out the stuff the online does not get to.  I run it every six monthes for my clients and it helps.  Make sure you have a full back up prior to.  
I have been running Exchange for many years and the number of times that I have run an offline defrag can be counted on one hand, all of them under the options above. The only reason it appears to make things better is because it is a new database file. There are no gains to be made on running an offline defrag even every six months.

Simon.
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