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Exchange Mailbox Size Issue

Posted on 2009-04-14
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I have taken over management of an Exchange 2003 server this week. In my assessment of the server, I noticed that 4 of the mailboxes are over 7GB with the largest 3 13, 14, 18GB each. I advised the client that this is way beyond the capabilities of exchange 2003. The users get a few messages each day ending up in sync issue/server failure. They said their previous IT person said it would be ok. I told them he was sorely mistaken.

I had two questions. Does anyone have a server that runs anywhere near that? And second, any ideas on a solution. They need to be able to access the emails quickly. It is a relatively small site with 15 users. Total store size is 65GB.
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Question by:jeremy95926
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by:dud386
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I run some hefty servers but haven't encountered a mailbox that large. I would think the best way to lower the size of that mailbox and keep the mail would be to create archived folders. Maybe one per year. You may want to speak to the user and ask how often they go back to look for email. This way you can feel out if you want to store all the mail local to the PC.
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by:RoboMunch
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An additional note...are you running SBS or Exchange Standard instead of Exchange Enterprise? You're pushing the limit for the store size (75 GB), once you hit it the store will shut down.
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by:jeremy95926
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Agreed...I was so shocked by the individual sizes I wasn't thinking about the overall size issue. It is Exchange 2003 Standard and that will become a problem here soon too.
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by:LinkNJ
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I typically advise my clients to create archive folders (one per year) for 18 months ago.  So in June we will create an archive for 2007.  If they are creating a large mailbox because of artwork attachments and such, I advise them to save artwork to a shared folder (usually organized by client) and then remove the attachments from the email.  This will leave you with a small mailbox size even for thousands and thousands of emails.  If they are emailing each other art files and such I teach them to use a temporary folder on the server which I share as transfer and map as a T: drive and have them reference a file there instead of emailing the attachment.  So each user has their own folder on the T: drive to store files they want someone to retrieve.  Hope that makes sense, pretty late here. Good night and good luck, Rob.
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by:GonWild
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One of our users had an 23GB mailbox (Exchange 2003), and he had no problems with it. (Although its not recommended). As the people here say, archive/deleting may be the only solution. Maybe sort out older emails and backup to .PST files?
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by:dud386
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If you do end up doing the archive folders. Ensure you have a good backup of them. You may even leave them on a network drive if you don't want them local.
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by:LinkNJ
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dud386, you bring up a good point and I didn't really specify but the shared folder I spoke of is on the server and of course being backed up :).  The mailoxes my larger (artwork prone) clients use with the above archiving plan are usually between 5 and 10GB.  If they get larger then that I start bugging them to remove large attachments as described above.  Good luck, Rob.
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by:tigermatt
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Outlook Archive Folders use PST files, and they are not recommended in an Enterprise environment. The administration overhead makes them totally unsuitable, not to mention the increased potential of corruption and the lack of remote access via OWA and so on.

Exchange is a collaboration platform, intended for communicating about current affairs. The users with mailboxes running into the gigabytes should go back through their older email, and save attachments off to a network file share for archive purposes. While it is acceptable to use Exchange to email files around, users should be educated not to keep those files stored in Exchange - particularly if they are rather large.

If users are unwilling to do this, you need to look at an Enterprise-suitable Archiving Solution. I would recommend Symantec Enterprise Vault or GFI MailArchiver; sure, they're not as cheap as Outlook's (Auto-)Archive feature, but they integrate a lot better into a corporate environment.

-Matt
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LinkNJ earned 200 total points
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Matt,  in my post above you can see where I explain how to use a shared folder (mapped as T: drive in most of my locations) for sending each other large files within the office.  This is how I educate them not to use Exchange for interoffice artwork collarboration, etc.  Also the removal of email attachments and save them to the server where they belong.  Is this how you setup your clients as well?  I think it is a good solution for Jeremy to keep down his overall size and also reduce the need for archiving.  It is a small location so it is not out of the question to create 15 PST files for really old email (3 to 5 years) down the road and avoid the expense of the Enterprise archiving solution.
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by:tigermatt
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Your solution for using a 'T' drive is a good one, but is one which probably wouldn't scale well for a larger corporate environment. I was simply applying the principles of what we do with larger clients; mail can be sent to users (as they could easily be in different sites) and then attachments saved off to their local file server and the mail deleted from Exchange.

This works well for us, but it's ultimately down to how you educate your users. Some companies wouldn't email large files around at all, but use products like Sharepoint or some other collaboration platform to share documents, which is much more suitable.

-Matt
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by:LinkNJ
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Thanks Matt.  My largest client is 26 users so it has worked out well.  Just curious as to how you did things.  From my original post, I think the T drive and making sure large attachments are removed from email and saved to the file server will be a good solution for jeremy and his 15 users as well.  Jeremy, any feedback on all this, I think you have a decent solution and some good discussion to review?  Best regards, Rob.
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by:tigermatt
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You've pretty much got it right. We use the Exchange infrastructure for emailing data around (which means users can access it when on a remote connection using Outlook Anywhere or OWA) but then instruct users to save it off to another storage location as soon as they can.

As I said previously, Exchange is really a collaboration platform and not a file server, and needs to be treated as such.

Thanks for adding this as another option Rob!

-Matt
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by:jeremy95926
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Thanks for all the info everyone. Definitely a hole in the solution spectrum for smaller businesses with huge email volumes with archiving. PST's are an easy independent solution, but they are not managed. With all the easy DB/Web technology it seems like it would be easier than it is to archive messages into a SQL based environment. The message and the attachment are integral components. This isn't interoffice communication...most comes from a consortium of small consultants. While it would be nice to build a SharePoint system and many engineer/architect companies do that, users outside the company are often irritated by the system setup. Amusingly, MS makes it easy to do searches in outlook so they see it as a storage system in many respects. A unifed file/email/message system is really needed where the burden isn't on the user or admin to capture, store, index and archive information. Enough soap box...thanks again all.
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by:jeremy95926
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I awared points in a shared manner because each poster provided helpful insight into the issue and shared their methods.
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