Poor Exchange Server Performance

I have been monitoring our Exchange Server for a couple of days and we are seeing CPU spikes and performance hits during the day. During this time we see a trying to connect to the exchange server pop-up on our desktops. We also are not seeing any connectivity issues with the network at this time. We run Exchange 2003 SP2. We have increased our mailbox store size over the 16 gig limit, but our actual size is 13 gigs for the private store and 3 for the public. We have 3.2 GHz Pentium 4 server grade machine with 2 gigs of ram and 15K SCSI Raid 5. Our transaction logs are always less than 100 and are never more than a day or so old. We do not use any retention policies, but we do set mailbox limits. We have about 70 users with about 25 having a 600 meg limit, the rest range from 300 megs to 100 megs. At times when moving large amounts of messages within a mailbox we can see the CPU performance stay at 100%. What really concerns me is when looking at the store is the amount of data in the mailboxes. More than half of the users with the 600 meg limit are almost at the limit and have item counts of 19,000 items, 13,000 items, 15,000 items, 8,000 items, etc. I thought that the item count should be kept down as well as this does more harm than actual size of the messages. Aside from upgrading the server CPU itself, does the item count seem to be the main culprit here? I know more ram could help, but would it seem to me the first step would be to clean out the mailboxes.
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LaserSpotConnect With a Mentor Commented:
First I would look at the AV software on the client and the server. If you have an e-mail scanner on the server, make sure that the clients AV software isn't also scanning the e-mail. What AV software do you have?

What RAID controller do you have? Make sure it does write-caching.

Yes, you should upgrade the RAM

Run Performance Monitor; is paging and the disk queue length staying high?

You should run Exchange Best Practices Analyzer & Exchange Troubleshooting Assistant:

Outlook does tend to slow down if you have more than 4-5,000 items in one folder. Also, Exchange uses more RAM as the mailboxes grow.
barrykeelAuthor Commented:
We use Symantec Enterprise Endpoint Protection 11 on the client. We do not scan emails at the client. We use Symantec for Exchange on the server. We use the Adaptec 29160 and I do believe it does write cacheing but I will have to double check. The paging and disk queue length looks fine. Only the CPU is taking the hit.  I have run Exchange Best Practices Analyzer & Exchange Troubleshooting Assistant and no critical issues there either. We are looking at more ram. With most of this troubleshooting looking ok except the cpu is why I suspect the high item count. 1/3 of my users are over 5000 items and 1/2 of them are between 10,000 to 20,000 with most being in the Inbox. I am suspecting the solution is more RAM and coming up with a good retention policy if they cannot keep their mailboxes cleaned out.
That will help; the item count is not unusual, but it does cause the Information Store to use more RAM. What process is using the CPU?
Are you sure your hard drives are hooked to the Adaptec 29160? That's not even a RAID card.
Are you running Network Threat Protection on the server?
barrykeelAuthor Commented:
We do not run Network Threat Protection on the server. The process used most when spiking is the store.exe. Usually 50% to 60% is the store at these times. We run nothing else on this server but Exchange and it is a member server. Yes, the Adaptec 29160N is an Ultra160 SCSI card by Adpatec. It is configured RAID 5. I installed this card myself into the Exchange server and also just double checked through Computer management. We also have a 2120S SCSI controller for our Tape Drive.
barrykeelAuthor Commented:
Sorry I need to correct the last post. Adaptec 29160 for the Tape drive and the 2120S for the RAID 5 configuration.
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