Exchange 2003 Public Folder 24gb Outlook Search Slow Hangs Server/Free/Busy

Posted on 2009-12-19
Last Modified: 2012-05-08
We have a huge Public Folders which total 24gb. When we search on any of the workstations, Outlook will hang/freeze with "Server request" "Free/busy" errors. I'm suspecting the database is so big now even searching is becoming a resource hog. Note the search errors even happens with searching Public Folder contacts and calendars.

But before we start archiving the Public Folders using 3rd party tools (Outlook export tool some times freezes/crashes). Is there a way/tool to do a recursive search by date so that we can delete the items? A tool that does not rely on Outlook and prefably server based?

We have folders that contains hundreds of sub folders. So manually going through them one by one and deleting the items is just too time consuming. Note that search function no longer works so we have to navigate folders manually until the search problem is fixed.

We have previously ran eseutil and it brought the size from 28gb to 24gb. A defrag was run.
Question by:CBM Corporate
    LVL 65

    Expert Comment

    The size of the public folder database shouldn't matter. 24gb is not large. My personal public folder store is larger than that. I believe the largest that Microsoft is aware of is measured in TB.

    Public Folder is all live, no cached mode involved, therefore if the server storage is poorly configured then it will show when you do anything database heavy.

    There is very little for public folder management from Microsoft. Most work involving them uses Outlook. If you are considering any kind of "Archiving" then don't use PST files. They are slow inefficient and bloated. 100mb of content in Exchange can be 300mb in a PST file.

    If you are doing heavy searching of public folders then you may want to consider a review of the storage, or even consider a separate public folder server (an Exchange server that only holds public folders).


    Author Comment

    by:CBM Corporate
    I went into Outlook and manually checked each sub folder to see how big the total size were and just manually deleted the items (highlight/shift delete). One of the folders had 7gb of junk which I got rid off. I had to delete them in batches otherwise Outlook would complain about permission errors (can't select all and delete). But I know I definately have Owner rights.

    Luckily I managed to export the Public Folders to .PST and it didn't crash (only 2008 year data). I have a ShadowProtect backup just in case.

    After a manual clean up, Outlook search no longer crashes but the yellow symbol comes up for 1-2 seconds then goes away. At first I thought it was the disk IO that is causing the bottleneck as it was noted in one of the Microsoft KB's. The server has a RAID5 configuration with decent disks. I have a ShadowProtect task that executes at midnight with transfer rates ~85MB/s.

    I had other sub folders splattered everywhere and I'm not staying here all day archiving/deleting items! I stumbled across a program called Mailstore. Installed it on the server and it's running like a charm. It's archiving everything now as I type. It's already set to do recursive and I told it to delete (some Archive apps don't have delete option!!) item after archive. Users can revert to the GUI if they want to view or recover the archive items from their Outlook or Web browser. I'll leave it overnight and see how it goes.

    If they continue with Public Folders then I may get them to upgrade to Exchange 2007/2010. Enable the hidden Public Folders and set up multiple storage groups. I wonder if Sharepoint a good replacement? It will be interesting to see how it's going to do "MailEnable" folders? MS SQL Std/Ent would be required for the amount of data they have? $$$.
    LVL 65

    Accepted Solution

    The permissions error you got is actually an incorrect error. You simply get that when Outlook can't cope with the number of items that you can remove. It usually complains at about 1400 items in one go.
    RAID 5 is very slow, even with fast disks. I wouldn't have a problem using it for mailboxes, but if you are a heavy user of public folders then you should probably look at changing to a faster disk system.
    The Exchange Performance Troubleshooting tool can point to where the problem might be.


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