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Users having very large mailboxes

Hi Experts,

Some of my high level users have large mailboxes around 4-5GB. We use Outlook 2003 in Cached Mode  for clients and Exchange 2003 SP2 on the backend. Management refuses to spend money on archiving software. Currently they archive email to their local hard disks, still their mailboxes are too large. Is there a way around this? Thanks,

4 Solutions
No...since it doesn't seem like you have the ear of the folks with the dollars...no.

I'll tell you what you ought to do, but ultimately it's between you and them. First off a 4-5 GB mailbox is insane. You need to implement a reasonable mailbox size and stick to it. You need to train your users how to cull through their mailboxes and make intelligent cuts. They definitely need to do PST files.  You need to stress the importance of archiving. If you are in the US your company is probably under the "new" FRCP rules as far as email discovery should a lawsuit happen. There is just no way you can easily and efficiently go through that much email in a timely fashion in order to meet the discovery requirements.  Archiving can be done locally with software that isn't all that expensive or with a service such as Postini, which keeps all email sent and received for a max of 7 years.

So, yes, there is a way around it, but your management needs to get their heads out of the sand.
Policy is top down. If management is unwilling to abide by a mailbox limit there is not much you can do to enforce one.

That being said, exchange 2003 standard only supports up to a 75GB information store and you only get one. If you hit this limit you will have a big problem on your hand. If this is your situation, you may be able to use that to leverage either some sort of mailbox limit policy, or upgrade to an enterprise version of exchange which has no limits on database size.

What is your end goal?
I agree with the previous posters - there isn't much you are going to be able to do which is worth doing.  Archiving to the computer is horrible, you may as well kiss that data goodbye, because some of it will definitely be lost.  PST files, or any other archiving solution implemented from the workstations is not only hit and miss, you are going to end up in a position where you have company data on the workstations (which is not backed up) or you are going to have PST files over the network, which is unsupported.

What is the problem with 5GB mailboxes?  For a few key managers, I usually let them go.
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Leon FesterSenior Solutions ArchitectCommented:
Yip I agree with all of the above.
The biggest issues you'll ever encounter with Exchange server is the space limitation. Exchange Server STD does have a 75GB limit as mentioned above. Enterprise Edition doesn't have this limitation.

That being said...you try recover/restore or any DR related activity on a database over 30GB and you could be running for 2 days.

You need to explain to your Management team about the issues of space limitation and recoverable option should a DR scenario arise. Just image how upset your management will be if the mail server is down for a day or two.

You'll end up very frustrated trying to recover the system...

w.r.t. Cached Mode...you're still leaving a copy of the mail on the server.
Have you implemented it as part of a backup solution?

Workstations are generally not backed up so a network location makes your data available for roaming users as well.

I'd suggest that your email usage policy should suggest that users create .pst files on a network share or on their home drives. That way you can include their .pst files in your scheduled backups. It's a slightly better backup solution than saving to a workstation.
We have encouraged our management folks and others with real email needs to create their PST files as was suggested above on a shared drive so that they can be backed up.  We had heard stories that putting a PST file on a server share wasn't the best idea in the world. but we have done it successfully for a couple of years without any issues.

When we finally get our archiving in place I hope to eliminate or reduce the need for the PST file as every email will be saved for 7 years and the users will be able to easily get to anything that's ever passed through their in box

But, as has been said many times here, you need to get your management on board. You obviously can't make them, but it's your role to educate them on the possible negative outcomes of not having a good working plan in place. And if they don't want to hear you...well...my guess is that you'll always be fighting these battles and would you rather work somewhere you can concentrate on giving good IT support or somewhere you have to fight for every single thing you need to do your job?  
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