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Free space in Exchange server

Posted on 2010-01-11
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I am using MS Exchange 2007, and all roles are installed on one server. I am using MS Forefront. All the mailboxes are stored on local PC's and not on the Exchange server. I noticed that the free space is decreasing quickly even that non of the users is using more than 0.5 GB. And I noticed that every day the space is decreasing by almost 2 GB.
Any clue on how to monitor this and see what is leading to this space usage. and how to prvent it. I dont want to end up with Terra bytes of storage.
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Question by:first_MCITP
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55 Comments
 
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by:
Alan Hardisty earned 1000 total points
ID: 26281724
Are you backing up your server with an Exchange aware backup program so that your log files are getting backed up and then removed?
If you are not, then you will find that your space will slowly be eaten up as you are seeing.
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Assisted Solution

by:Glen Knight
Glen Knight earned 400 total points
ID: 26281762
"All the mailboxes are stored on local PC's and not on the Exchange server"

Can you explain this comment?

As alanhardisty has already said, this is more than likely due to the log files filling up on your system have you checked the log file location to see how many you have?
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by:first_MCITP
ID: 26281915
mean that all the e-mails are locally stored on the pst files. I am not using OST files on xchange server
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by:Alan Hardisty
ID: 26281921
Are you using a backing program as per my initial comment?
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by:first_MCITP
ID: 26281932
No I am not.
ny way to check those files and delete them
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LVL 74

Expert Comment

by:Glen Knight
ID: 26281952
DO NOT MANUALLY DELETE LOG FILES!!

You should be backing up your information store it will flush the logs when you do it.

Simply using Windows Backup will be sufficient.
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LVL 76

Expert Comment

by:Alan Hardisty
ID: 26282072
If you don't backup your Exchange / Server with an Exchange aware backup program, then your log files for Exchange will just get written to your server and remain there for all eternity.
With an Exchange aware backup program, such as Windows Backup, the logs will get backed up, then purged once the backup is completed, so that your space on the server will go down massively after the first backup, then remain fairly clear on a daily basis as you will only be backing up the last 24 hours logs, then purging them.
This would happily explain the growing size of your data on your server.
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Expert Comment

by:Raheem05
ID: 26282471
Agree with both Alan and Dezmaster.....please be careful regarding deleting log files at some point you might want to perform a restore at a specific time and will shoot yourself in the foot backups will flush your logs if completed successfully as advised by the experts already....
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LVL 8

Assisted Solution

by:cyberlopez6
cyberlopez6 earned 600 total points
ID: 26282844
If you don't want to back up your server (and you REALLY should be with at least NTBackup), then you can enable Circular Logging on the Information Store.  This will cause the system to over-write the log files automatically.

Normal Exchange Backups automatically clean up log files after a successful backup.

Deleting log files manually is a very, VERY bad idea.
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LVL 74

Expert Comment

by:Glen Knight
ID: 26282852
DO NOT ENABLE CIRCULAR LOGGING ON AN EXCHANGE SERVER THAT HAS MAILBOXES ON IT!!!
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LVL 8

Expert Comment

by:cyberlopez6
ID: 26282854
How to Enable or Disable Circular Logging for a Storage Group:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb331968(EXCHG.80).aspx


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Expert Comment

by:cyberlopez6
ID: 26282862
There is no problem with enabling Circular Logging, as long as you understand the ramifications to the recoverability of the data in case of a failure.  Clearly, that isn't a concern here.

I always recommend regular backups.

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LVL 74

Expert Comment

by:Glen Knight
ID: 26282884
Enabling circular logging on a production mail server that has live mailboxes on it is BAD ADVICE!

The only reason to enable circular logging on a mail server with mailboxes is when there is a migration in place.

Otherwise it should not be advised.

Taking proper and correct backups of your Information Stores is the CORRECT way to resolve this issue.  Windows Backup is free and there is absolutely no reason why it should not be used.

Not taking backup of your IT systems is reckless.
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Expert Comment

by:Raheem05
ID: 26282894
Sorry to add to that dezmasters advice is excellent and even something I am strong on i.e. enabling circular logging is bad practise
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LVL 76

Expert Comment

by:Alan Hardisty
ID: 26282895
Agree with Demazter - Circular logging is not at all recommended.  Backing up the server is.
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Expert Comment

by:cyberlopez6
ID: 26282901
Demazter:  we'll have to agree to disagree.  

Not backing up your server is very bad, we can agree on that.  But if you are unwilling or unable to backup your system, then you MUST enable Circular Logging or you WILL run out of disk space.  There's nothing inherently wrong with Circular Logging.
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Expert Comment

by:cyberlopez6
ID: 26282920
Since everyone is chiming in..  can someone actually EXPLAIN why they are so against Circular Logging?  

If you are not running backups, you MUST enable Circular Logging...  or watch your server run out of space..

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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Raheem05
ID: 26283001
Why is Circular Logging a bad idea?

During disaster recovery, if you have over-written the transaction logs then you can only restore as far as the last backup.  When all the logs are available, Exchange automatically replays the logs and recovers all the transactions.

What is Circular Logging?

Exchange, SQL and Active directory databases all rely on transaction or write-ahead logs.  Events can be quickly written to the logs, then later 'committed' to the main database file.  Circular logging over-writes these transaction logs to save disk space.

Disaster Recovery of Exchange Stores

Each Exchange Storage Group has one log for up to five individual stores.  One reason for having multiple stores is to reduce the time needed to restore in disaster recovery conditions.

When disaster strikes and you have to restore an Exchange store you need a full backup of the EDB database and all the logs since the the last backup.  So, if you allow circular logging to over-write the logs, then you lose all data since the last backup.  However, if you disable circular logging, then you Exchange magically replays all the logs and brings back the Exchange store to how it was before the disaster.  This re-reading the logs is called a soft recovery and happens automatically.

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Expert Comment

by:Glen Knight
ID: 26283020
Firstly I guess it depends how important your mail system is.

When you enable circular logging you will ALWAYS loose data in the event of a system failure because you will only be able to recover to your last full backup, which if you don't have one is pretty useless.

Why do you think Circular Logging is disabled by DEFAULT with all versions of Exchange since 2000?
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by:Glen Knight
ID: 26283028
Ah and of course peformance.
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by:Glen Knight
ID: 26283041
@cyberlopez6 > I am assuming you have never been in a position where you have had to recover an Exchange Server from hardware failure?
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Expert Comment

by:Glen Knight
ID: 26283083
And here is Microsoft's take on it:

"By enabling circular logging, you reduce drive storage space requirements. However, if you do not have complete transaction log files, you cannot recover anything more recent than the last full backup. Therefore, circular logging on production servers that contain mailbox data or public folder data is not recommended."
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Expert Comment

by:cyberlopez6
ID: 26283096
Actually I have.  Many, many times.

I'll say it again.. IF YOU HAVE NO BACKUP TO RESTORE WHAT'S THE POINT OF PERSERVING THE LOGS?

Everyone keeps pointing out that you can't do a full restore without the logs.  You can't recover past your last Full Backup..  THERE IS NO BACKUP.  THERE WILL BE NO RESTORE.  And, therefore, you don't need logs.

and Performance is not negatively impacted.
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LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:gupnit
ID: 26283126
Hi,
All Mails are being delvired directly to Personal Folder (PST) in Outlook.
This means the growth is primarily due to Log Files growth. As recommended by everyone I would recommend that you Backup using a Exchange aware Backup Software. Good read would be http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa998870(EXCHG.80).aspx
Circular Logging - Well it is a feature that is by default DISABLED. The reason why you would want to enable is to fight immediate Space constraints on servers. With CL as Glen mentioned you can only restore from Last Backup only , nothing later than that. Good Read: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb331968(EXCHG.80).aspx
So, you just go ahead and Backup, and also have some sort of a Schedule. It is imperative that you have a BACKUP SCHEDULE for all your Servers, not only Exhcange  :-) !
Cheers
Nitin
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LVL 74

Expert Comment

by:Glen Knight
ID: 26283139
If you had then you would know the importance of the log files, I understand you are new to this site but there are 3 of the top 10 Exchange Experts involved in this question and they are all disagreeing with you!

The ADVICE here should be that you need to take REGULAR FULL backups nothing else!

And performance is NEGATIVELY impacted, I have witnessed it myself!
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by:Glen Knight
ID: 26283141
Thanks Nitin!
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Expert Comment

by:cyberlopez6
ID: 26283202
As i said several times, Backups are the way to go.. If you can't or don't want to backup, turn on Circular Logging to keep disk space under control.  Those are the options.

For reasons I can't explain the "Experts" don't want to give you the options.  So, by their advice, you can either backup (hopefully you've got the resources to do this) or watch your server crash.  Personally, I'd turn on Circular Logging before I let my server run out of space.

I will not reply again, this is getting ridiculous.





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Expert Comment

by:gupnit
ID: 26283218
@Cyber - You have a Valid Point ! We are not saying Backups are not important, but your point is valid only till the time, first_mcitp is not taking a backup. ! See with CL Logs get written into the DB immediately and are flushed, this is the reason there is a slight overload. Nothing more or less !!
@Glen - Cheers :-) !
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Author Comment

by:first_MCITP
ID: 26339928
Guys;
NT Backup is running succefully on daily basis and still i didn't get mor free space. It's still decreasing by 2 GB everyday
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LVL 74

Expert Comment

by:Glen Knight
ID: 26339969
Is this down to the logfiles or is the EDB growing?
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by:first_MCITP
ID: 26339991
It's related to log files
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Author Comment

by:first_MCITP
ID: 26340002
Since I am using local pst as mailboxes, so no mailbox is on the server. I made a full backup and kept on doing backup every one month as a full backup. But since last week I am doing an Incremental backup on daily basis but still the free space is decreasing
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Expert Comment

by:Raheem05
ID: 26340019
You dont have circular logging enabled do you? As the incremental backups will not complete see:

Incremental backup   An incremental backup is a change-only backup that only archives the transaction log files since the last full or incremental backup. Log files older than the checkpoint are deleted after the backup is complete. You cannot perform an incremental backup when circular logging is enabled. To restore data from an incremental backup, you must have the most recent full backup and each subsequent incremental backup set available. After the restore process is complete, the transaction logs are applied to the Exchange database that you restored with the full backup.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb124515%28EXCHG.80%29.aspx
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by:first_MCITP
ID: 26340033
No I don't use CL. and agree with you regarding the Incremental backup.Just for info, I am using windows backup, OS windows 2003, Exchaneg 2007
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Expert Comment

by:Raheem05
ID: 26340059
Are you sure its the logs which are increasing can you check the current size please:

<drive>:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\Mailbox\<Storage Group Name>

Could you also verify the size of the following profile:

C:\documents and settings\all users
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LVL 74

Expert Comment

by:Glen Knight
ID: 26340100
The logs will increase on a daily basis, this is normal, that's why when you perform a full backup the logs are flushed.
You should be performing a full backup of your information store every day.
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Author Comment

by:first_MCITP
ID: 26340115
I agree, but as mentioned before, whenever you do full backup for the first time the logs will be deleted and space will increase. I did a ful backup last week and nothing happened and i am continuing with incremental backup.
Any extra work to do?
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Expert Comment

by:Raheem05
ID: 26340126
Agree with Dezmaster its always recommended to do full backups but if you have done a full backup and moved on to incremental backups the logs should be flushing could you answer my question above what is the current size of the transaction logs
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by:Glen Knight
ID: 26340134
Incremental = anything that has changed since the last full backup

Information store file is 1 file, which will change every day.  Therefore you are doing a full backup of the store without the benefits of flushing the logs.
You must do a FULL backup for the logs to be flushed.
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Author Comment

by:first_MCITP
ID: 26340187
the log files used to be in total about 340 GB, while the edb file is less than 4 GB. I am sure that the CL will flush the Logs but I agree with what mentioned above regarding the restore
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by:Raheem05
ID: 26340193
340GB of log files wow yes follow dezmasters advice and doa FULL backup how many information stores do you have? I would create a seperate backup for each information store first try to do this on the store that has the 340GB transaction logs once completed successfully the logs will flush as already mentioned by Dezmaster
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by:Glen Knight
ID: 26340196
Raheem > Only a FULL backup will flush the logs, an incremental or differential backup will not.

sorry excuse my error above.

Differential = anything that has changed since the last full backup
Incremental = Anything that has changed since the last backup
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by:Glen Knight
ID: 26340201
340GB of transaction logs? How many mailboxes?
Is this after not doing a FULL backup for a few months?
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Author Comment

by:first_MCITP
ID: 26340214
Guys;
You are completetly right. I did more than one full backup. During the past year, i used to make a full backup every month and just one week back I did a full backup but the space and log files still available.
I have a huge number of log files that's why I am asking how to trouble shoot the issue.
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Author Comment

by:first_MCITP
ID: 26340234
I will do the following
I will do a full backup, then enable CL and restart the information service, it should flush the logs, then I can disable the CL and again restart the information service and see the results
What do you think?
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by:Raheem05
ID: 26340242
No please dont do this as enabling CL would cause you issues when you need to do a replay for DR I would begin with doing a full backup unless your desperate for space?
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by:Glen Knight
ID: 26340261
Just perform a FULL backup this will flush the logs!!
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by:Raheem05
ID: 26340269
Glen,

Sorry you are totally correct that did not come our right in my last post thanks for correcting me :)...seems like its going to be a long week and its only just started!
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by:first_MCITP
ID: 26357128
as expected guys;
I did a full backup twice and nothing happened
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by:Glen Knight
ID: 26357149
Are you using Windows Backup?
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Author Comment

by:first_MCITP
ID: 26366846
yes, and i am backing up the storage group.
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by:Raheem05
ID: 26566840
Hello,

I am agreeing with both Dezmaster and Alanhardisty on this one a FULL backup is required to be able to flush these logs to free up disk space (which is the correct recommended way by MS), I believe the points should be awared to both Dezmaster and Alanhardisty unless anyone else objects
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Author Comment

by:first_MCITP
ID: 26569149
Guys;
here is what i did.
I did a full backup
enabled CIRCULAR LOGGING,"after enabling circular logging all logs are flushed"
I disabled Circular logging
Made a full backup
Schedule an incremental backup
and now logs are flushing normally.
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Author Closing Comment

by:first_MCITP
ID: 31675403
.
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