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exchange 2003 force to purge deleted items

I need urgently to purge as much as I can from the Exchange DB because the DB is close to the 75Gb limit. The retention period is set to the default 30 days. Could I bring this down to 15 and force Exchange to purge immediately whatever could be deleted ?
Any other way to free quickly some space without dismounting the store ?

We've asked users to archive as much as they can and empty their Deleted Items folder in the mean time.

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Tony Giangreco
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Any issue if I don't have the time to run a full Backup before launching the maintenance ? I have about 50 log files of 5mb each in the log folder. The backup will take many hours and I would not want to risk reaching 75 gb in the next couple hours. I could run the backup once I am confident the maintenance has cleared some room.
Yes, then I would run maintenance right away.
Thanks very much. When setting the schedule, do I only need to select the start time, or do I need to select all of the time range blocks within which the cleanup will run ? In other words, I i only select the 09:00-10:00 block range, will the maintenance stop at 10:01 even if it is not finished.
Maintenance should complete within the hour. Watch for the 1221 event in the Windows application event log. It provides a good picture of what you are up against.

Make sure all users enty their Deleted Items folders today and then run both backups and trigger maintenance again.... Very Important.

This violates policies in some companies, but for me, if the situation is that critical, I will log into user accoutns and empty the deletd foler myself. Sometines for the company's sake, you need to take those steps to keep the system going.
Thanks very much TG-TIS. Your quick help is really appreciated. Will there be an event logged when maintenance will have been completed, so I know it is done (the 1221 event you are referring to ?)
On the server, go to Start. administrator Tools, Event Viewer

Right click Applications, select Filter, enter 1221 in the event ID and click OK. the most recent entry will tell you how much free space you have in the DB. It is generated by the maintenance process.
This is the day you become a pain to your users. From my experience, users will ignore my requets to empty or delete unnessary mail. When this happens, I walk from user to user and have them empty their deleted folder right there so you see it happens.

This is for the sake of you and your company. You need to take command of the situation.
The cleanup has finished. This is what it shows in the event log:

Event Type:      Information
Event Source:      MSExchangeIS Mailbox Store
Event Category:      General
Event ID:      1207
Date:            25/05/2012
Time:            10:21:51 AM
User:            N/A
Computer:      SBS01
Cleanup of items past retention date for Item Recovery is complete for database "First Storage Group\Mailbox Store (SBS01)".
 Start: 81649 items; 13424438 Kbytes
End: 63059 items; 16566483 Kbytes

The number of items has decreased, but the number of Kbytes has increased from 13.4Gb to 16.5Gb ???  How do you read these statistics ? Has my database increased in size at the end instead of decreasing ? The database files on the server have not changed. I suppose I have to run Isinteg or something similar in order to compact the database to get rid of the deleted records ?
You need to run an Exchange backup and then exch db maintenance for the free space to increase.

Doin this will geep the DB te same size, but will increase free space within the DB.

Then, running the Eseutil process will decrease the db size.
Is the number that appears in the Event log ID 1207 : "End: 63059 items; 16566483 Kbytes" is this the free white space available after the db maintenance ?

Eseutil: with the /d option for offline defragmentation ?
No, the event ID to look for is 1221.

You should follow the tutorial on Eseutil I sent you for all switch settings.
It appears you are running exchange sp1. You should install the exchange sp2 service pack which upgraded the db and extends the limit from 16 gigs to 18 gigs. this will help.

SP2 extends the initial exchange limit to 18 gigs. This microsoft note shows you how to raise that limit to 75 gigs.

Here is a video on installing SP2
Glad I could help.