Reduce Size Mailbox Store Exchange 2003


I have an Exchange 2003 store that is quite big. Is there a way to run a process that will compact (reduce) the size of the store?


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Jeff RodgersNetworks & Communications Systems ManagerCommented:
It depends on a few things,

The largest of which would be your end users.  Encourage your end users to clean up their mailboxes.

You will not regain a lot of space until users have done this.

You can set up mailbox management rules to the server which will help with things like deleted items etc.

Here is some good info on that...

Once users have dumped alot of their useless treasures, you may want to do an offline defrag to reduce some of the restored space.

Offline defrag instructions here....

A strong word of caution though... make sure you have a stable exchange environment and be very cautious in doing this.  You can do severe damage to your environment otherwise.

Hope it helps!

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1. If OL users are in cachec mode, tell them to take PST of their mailbox.
2. Set the retention period to 0 (for deleted emails & deleted mailboxes) in properties of Mailbox Store.
3. Tell users to delete unwanted emails & delete unwanted mailboxes.
NOTE: If any email or mailbox is deleted after setting retention period to 0, it will be deleted immediately & could not be recovered unless we  have a backup.
4. Wait for online maintenance to complete & then proceed with offline defrag using below mentioned steps:
- Dismount Mailbox Store.
- Open command prompt> point directory to BIN folder (by default the location is C:\Program Files\Exchsrvr\Bin)
- After pointing to BIN directory, run command eseutil /d "Path of .edb file" (Default: C:\Program Files\Exchsrvr\mdbdata\priv1.edb)
5. Offline defrag runs at a speed of 4-5 GB/hr. So, plan maintenace accordingly.

Let me know if you have any more questions :-)
Alan HardistyCo-OwnerCommented:
How big is quite big?  Size is different for everyone (no smutty jokes please!)
You cannot reduce you mailstore quickly if you have retention setup on it.  The default retention period is 30 days, so even if your users do a damn good job of housekeeping as Jeff has suggesed, or Auto-Archiving, nothing will happen until the 30 day period has expired and the items can be purged.
Check the settings on your store (limits tab).
To defragment the store to reduce space, you need to take the store offline.  Read the following article in case you need some guidance. 
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Exchange stores get big - it's their role. You need to have good management practice and mailbox limits to keep it down. .
To reduce the size on disk, as everyone else has mentioned use an offline defrag, but they'll only get big again.

Unless you have problems with space or backup windows I wouldn't bother with an offline defrag. The maintenance tasks that exchange runs defrag the database and that maintains their efficiency.
The unused space in the mdb file (white space) will be quickly reused

Look for an event id of 1221 in the app log to see how much space can be recovered in a offline defrag
Malli BoppeCommented:
Is their a reason why you want to compact the size of the database.
Other options to create whits space is
use an archiving solution like Enterprise Vault
a tool like detachpipe to remove attachments
I would never do an offline defrag not worth the risk unless its a must.
mbudmanAuthor Commented:
Hi Everyone,

Thank you for all your comments regarding an off-line defrag. The reason I would like to do this procedure is to recover white space and reduce the amount of time it takes to perform the backup. Management has requested that I take measures to reduce all wasted space (not just Exchange) and since today (July 4) is a holiday for our American workers I thought I would tackle Exchange.

Our store (standard edition) is 40 Gig and we are only 70 users (3 years worth of email  data).

I am a little nervous about performing an off-line defrag, however I do have good backups in place.

After reading all the comments here, I will wait before performing a Defrag because according to the event viewer, the amount of White Space I would recover is insignificant. I therefore have to go over mailbox cleanup with the community first.

I was reading about recipient policies and mailbox management. If it possible to globally set the each user's mailbox to archive items older than a certain period?

Thanks for all you help!


Alan HardistyCo-OwnerCommented:
You can use the Office Policy Templates to achieve this.  Here is a link to tell you more about it and a download link:
There are different versions depending on the Office version(S) you use.
Alan HardistyCo-OwnerCommented:
Be careful you don't delete the mail using a policy - your users will not thank you if you do.
don't be too scared about defrags. just understand what you're doing and have loads of disk available i'd suggesta min of 100gb for a 70gb database.

archiving mail just moves the space issue to pst's (depending on the solution) this can make it worse as exchange has a single instance storage method that helps keep overheads low
good luck
I agree with most of the comments and advise made above, however, IMHO

1. As Mike Courtney points out MS says they will reuse the white space so dont bother with defragmentation and that is kind of true but not always, i.e. all things must be properly aligned and in short it never is so yes there are valid reasons to defragment a database and you do get allot of value from doin so, however;
2. There is allot more going on during a fragmentation then just removing white space
3. I would not recommend that you just do defragmentation on its own, i.e. you really need to know the proper use of the tools and at minimum include isinteg as part of your process as well as a pre and post backup of the information store.
4. having users cleanup ahead of time as pointed out by Jeff and others is an excellent point to ensure you get the most out to the defragmentation.
5. Rule of thumb for defragmentation is to have a minimum of 110% of the EDB size, for a work space to build the temp EDB.
6. if you run a full maintenance process, you will end up with a cleaner, faster and more stable EDB that will backup faster and God forbid restore faster if needed.

mbudmanAuthor Commented:
Thank you for the quick repsonses. They were excellent
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