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Moving mailboxes between stores Exchange 2003

We have a fairly small company, around 35 employees.  We have a single Exchange 2003 server, and the database size is about 51GB.  It takes a long time to do an offline defrag, and about 4 of our sales and marketing employees use email pretty much every evening (after hours) and on weekends.  In addition, we have three employees based out of Taiwan, who use their email during our down time, so it's hard to get the mail server offline for more than a couple hours.  What I would like to do is move the Taiwan and Sales and Marketing people to their own mailbox store so that I can do an offline defrag after hours for the bulk of the users, and use the weekend to do the sales/Taiwan employees, but because their store will be considerably smaller, it shouldn't take to long to defrag.

My questions are 1) I am very nervous about doing anything to disrupt our mailboxs, especially with regards to the marketing and sales guys.  This our most critical business app (exchange), and I just worry about "messing" with it.  Is moving mailboxes a pretty basic and safe thing to do?  2) How often should I be doing an offline defrag?  Currently, I get to it about once a year.  3) With our database size around 51GB, I think the maximum limit for Exchange 2003 with service pack 2 is 75GB.  By moving mailboxes, I can get our main mailbox store reduced in size to give more time before our 75GB limit is reached.  However, is this 75GB limit for the entire server or each store?  Both mailbox stores are in my "first storage group"
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The offline defrag is needed to make the files of the exchange database mailbox smaller.

Dialy, the server run a online defrag, and this defrag what made is to defrag the logical space in those files, but don't free disk space, only logical space. You can make an offline defrag once a year or every two year, or not defrag, except if you need to free some disk space in your server.

The 75 Gb limits are per storage database, it means that the addition of the size of the two files for any database would be limited to 75 Gb.

If you create another database and move the sales people or other mailboxes to the new storage, you will free logical space for the store, but not disk space. The free space left by the mailboxes moved will be used eventually by the remaining mailboxes. If you want to see the real space used for your mailboxes remaining in this databases, then you have to make an offline backup.

In general is safe to move mailboxes between storages, if something generate an error, you can chosee to not move the mailbox. But allways is recommended a full backup of your server before new configurations or movements, and regular backups for data protection.

jbobstAuthor Commented:
So, adding a second Mailbox Store to my First Storage Group is kind of pointless in trying expand my 75GB limit.  That's too bad.  I still think it will take a couple of more years to reach that limit, but it might get here sooner than that.

I do daily backups, so my log files get purged, but how do I know if it's an offline backup?  I just use the basic windows backup utility.
Hii jbobst

1) Before doing anything on a database its a best practice to keep a copy  as a backup. You can keep it on same hardisk or you can copy it to a USB hard drive. Moving mailboxes is easy but it wont defrag the exchange database.

** NOTE : Before using eseutil, its a best pratice to run chkdsk once on local drives.

2) Offline defragmentation time span depends on how much white space you are having and also if your disk space is less and need some extra space.
Check event 1221 and you will come to know abt the white space.

3) The 75 gigs size limit is for the database i.e including all stores and storage groups.
In Exchange 2003 Standar you can only have one mailbox store database and one public folder store database, and only one storage group can be created on a server

If your server is enterprise, then you can have more than 75 Gb for email.

Maybe an option to consider could be and upgrade to exchange 2010.


Additional info
Common Features
Both editions of Exchange 2003 feature:

    * Network compression
    * Exchange 2003 Management Pack
    * Integrated support for mobile devices
    * Volume Shadow Copy service
    * Ability to be configured as a front-end server for Microsoft Outlook Web Access, Microsoft Outlook Mobile Access, Microsoft ActiveSync, Post Office Protocol 3 (POP3), Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP), and Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP)
    * Recovery Storage Group

Exchange Server 2003 Standard Edition
Exchange 2003 Standard Edition is designed to meet the messaging and collaboration requirements of small and medium corporations and for specific messaging server roles or branch offices.

    * One storage group can be created on a server
    * One mailbox store database and one public folder store database that can be accessed by using MAPI and Outlook Web Access
    * Up to four more public folder store databases that are accessible only programmatically
    * Maximum 16-gigabyte (GB) database limit per database (75 GB with Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2)
    * Exchange clustering is not supported
    * X.400 connector is not included

Exchange Server 2003 Enterprise Edition
Exchange 2003 Enterprise Edition is designed for large enterprise corporations. With Exchange 2003 Enterprise Edition, you can create multiple storage groups and multiple databases. Exchange 2003 Enterprise Edition provides an unlimited message store that removes the constraints on how much data a single server can manage.

    * Four storage groups
    * Five databases per storage group
    * 16 terabyte database limit, limited only by hardware
    * Exchange clustering is supported
    * X.400 connector is included
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