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Exchange 2003 Exceeded the Size Limit of the Database

I am running an Exchange 2003 Standard Edition server.  My users love to keep every piece of email that they receive and send (because I am sure that they will be able to locate that one email message out of the 40,000 that they have).  With that said I am running into a problem with my database size.  

Every morning my database store is dismounted and I receive an event log that states:

"Event 9690 - The logical size of this database is 73 GB.  This database size has exceeded the size limit of 70 GB."  

I also have the following event:

"Event 1221 - 1591 MB of free space after online defrag"

A few weeks ago, I asked all the users to permanently delete any emails that were no longer needed.  By comparing the users mailbox stores, at least 10 GB of mail was deleted.  

Below, I have listed the size of the .edb and .stm files on the server.

-  priv1.edb (65.27 GB)
-  priv1.stm (15.16 GB)
-  pub1.edb (3.23 GB)
-  pub1.stm (2.20 GB)

With all of that said, I have the following questions:

1.  There is no way to exceed the 75 GB limit with the standard version of Exchange 2003 is there?

2.  Since I had my users delete 10+ Gigs ov messages then why does event 1221 only show just over 1 GB of available white space?  Is there some type of retention period before deleted messages become available space?

3.  I do not have 110% free space on the Exchange server to run an offline defrag.  Is it possible to move the database to a network share on another server and run the defrag there?  If so, can you link to instructions to do so?

4.  I have read many differing opinions on the use of .pst files to archieve email messages.  Is it a good idea to archieve old email message or just let the users mailbox store grow?  If you do archieve email, is there a way to set this to happen on the exchange server and place the users pst files in a given area on the file server or is it up to each indivdual user to archeive their own email.  Seeing that most of my users are not the most tech savy I would prefer not to have them be responsible for doing this.

Any other tips and suggestions are greatly appreciated.
3 Solutions
1. No, Exchange 2003 SP2 has a maximum configurable limit of 75GB.
2. You will need to perofrm an offline defrag in order to reclaim the missing space
3. For NAS to be supported, it needs to be a windows approved NAS. Below are a few links that may assist you with deciding.
Here is a link with detailed steps on setting up exchange database on a windows storage server NAS. pretty neat, but not sure how it will fit your requirements. A glance through will make you aware of processes involved.

4. Yes, it is definately advisable and I would suggest pushed to users that archiving be performed on regular intervals. Users can get reminders via the Auto Archive reminders. Users will need to define a location of where they want the archived PST's to be stored. I would suggest they perform annually or semi annually if mailboxes too large. They can store on a central location (mapped NAS drive, mapped server drive etc.) Auto archive will automatically mount the archived PST in their outlook profile. Plus having it on a central location makes it easier to locate etc. I would definately not encourage letting the mailbox grow. It is recommended to archive emails in timely intervals. Letting the mailboxes grow will lead you to exchange limitations.
2.Exchange database online defragmentation occurs automatically as part of the database maintenance process.By default, Exchange is configured to run online defragmentation daily between 01:00 and 05:00.once complete the online defrga you can see the eventid 1221 to know about white space.To get more white space schedule the online defrga manually and get it fully complete.Then you will get 10 Gb of white space.

3.you can perfrom offline defrag in Non-Exchange server(In case of no 110 % space in the sever).Please check the below article.
ok so the other half of the puzzle could be that your deleted item retention threshold has not yet been reached, i.e. you said you had users delete 10GB of mail yet you only see 1GB of recoverable space in the 1221 event, correct?  so;

1. Just need to check that you users didn't delete items and forgot to them empty the deleted items folder, correct?

2. Assuming the users did empty the deleted items it could be that you have yet passed your deleted item retention, i.e. if for example it was set to 30 days and you just deleted the information last week then that information wont be purged until you pass the retention period.  You can check this by

A, Open Exchange System Manager

B. Expand Administrative Groups

C. Expand <Administrative Group Name>, expand <Server name>, expand <Storage Group Name>,  

D. Right click on the store in question  and click Properties, then click on Limits tab.

E. look at the defined limit for the deleted item retention and if need be adjust accordingly

F.  Then you can wait for the next online defragmentation occurs automatically as part of the database maintenance process  online defragmentation that occurs daily between 01:00 and 05:00. and once complete you can see event id 1221 which will give you the new amount available.  Now if you want to hurry the process up go back to Step D above and on the general tab at the bottom you will see when the maintenance is set to run.  You can temporarily force the process to run all the time to force the process to happen faster but realize that this will hit your exchange server performance.  Once done switch it back to the previous setting
csimmons1324IT ManagerAuthor Commented:
I have split the points equally as everyone provided some help with my questions.  Turns out that our nightly backup was preventing the online defrag to run.  I set the retention to 0 and let the online defrag run and I was able to clear out over 20 GB of deleted messages.
Excellent, thanks for the points

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