How to reduce Exchange Database in 2003 below the 75gb Limit


I have a customer that we have just worked out exchange 2003 database is currently reporting via event logs that it is at 90GB over the 75Gb limit.

It is still working at the mount but dismounting all the time.

I need to get this fixed and have some mailbox that can be deleted and cleaned up.

My question is, I did try to delete a old mailbox but it didn't seem to reduce the size, is there anything i need to do

can you advise on best practice to fix this issue.

The customer is just not where to go at the moment as the options have changed as they where going to upgrade to a SBS Server 2011 but as its not now available things have changed.

Anyway, we need to clean up before we move to anything anyway

Thanks Adam
Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

after deleting unneeded mailboxes you will need to run an offline defrag to regain the free space.
Please look at the following microsoft article:

Be sure to perform a backup of your database files before and after the defrag, just to make sure!
Viral RathodConsultantCommented:
1) First thing you need to look is if you really need a defrag ?

Check the Event Id 1221 on the Mailbox Store and Public Folder store to make sure sufficient white space is available on the database

White Space (Recyclable Space) indicates how much space could be recovered by an offline defragmentation

White Space (Recyclable Space) means Exchange has carried out some routine maintenance on the Exchange database. Any old data that is past the delete thresholds has been deleted from the database.

The space it has left behind has then been consolidated, in to “white space”. The size of the database hasn’t changed – there is just some space within the database

2) Check the Event Id 1216 on the Mailbox Store and Public Folder store to check the Database Size

3) Make sure you have taken the complete Backup of Both the Exchange Database

4) Exchange offline Defrage Require 110% of Free Space to Defrage Exchange Store,

If Mailbox Store Database size is 60 GB then you need at least 70 GB of free disk space on the server

(Check Event Id 1216 for Database Size)

5) Make sure you have taken sufficient Down time to run offline defrag on exchange database

(4GB of Database Defrage Require 1 Hour to Complete (60 GB of Database Require Approx 15 Hours)

Refer the Article for Offline Defrage
Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
The limit is the logical space, not physical.
Therefore if you remove a lot of mail content from the database, as long as the logical size goes below 75gb, the physical size can stay above 75gb.

Although I would use it as a good reason to get an upgrade done. Exchange 2003 is no longer supported and any more recent version has effectively unlimited database size.

Has Powershell sent you back into the Stone Age?

If managing Active Directory using Windows Powershell® is making you feel like you stepped back in time, you are not alone.  For nearly 20 years, AD admins around the world have used one tool for day-to-day AD management: Hyena. Discover why.

Adam RayCommented:
Like others have said, the limit 75GB logical size, no physical. Unless you have other compelling reasons to do an offline defrag in SBS/Exchange 2003 it is usually more trouble than it's worth.

If you recently deleted mailboxes and/or had users archive off messages to reduce the store "size", you need to get exchange to purge the removed/deleted items to see an immediate reduction in store logical size.  Adjust the dumpster retention age on the store/exchange server and uncheck do not delete mailboxes until a backup has been run. Restart exchange, then purge deleted mailboxes and run cleanup agent. (You can then reenable retention age and recheck 'do not delete mailboxes,' and restart exchange again.--In fact, I would recommend doing that.

**Obvious warning, you're [temporarily] getting rid of some fail-safes, so make sure you have your bases covered first. E.G. A good backup.**

Be aware that if your Exchange database _physical_ size is larger than 75GB you will get informational entries in your event log, but they can be ignored. The store doesn't dismount until the logical size is checked, once every 24 hours. (Default time is 5am.)

Related note: You can make a VBscript and run it at 5:03am to remount the exchange store after the auto-check dismounts it at 5am. It is not a good long term solution and I haven't found it to be completely reliable. But, in my opinion at least, it's a decent short term workaround that usually keeps things running.

There are a handful of canned vbscripts out there if you search. Below is a bare bones one: change the .Dismount() to .Mount and modify the LDAP Distinguished Name (AD path) for your environment.
cdsausAuthor Commented:
Can i ask a dumb question

Would it be an option to Start a new Database together and re-import the stuff i just need as there alot of email box etc that i dont need and maybe starting over would be a good idea.

what would be the process of doing this and is there a way i can access the old database once a new one is created

Adam RayCommented:
Where there is a will there's a way. However, since this is Exchange on SBS 2003, the number of ways you have is significantly limited as compared to a full fledged Exchange 2003 install.

Because of this, it's not worth attempting if you're only "problem" is that the store is dismounting because it is over the size limit.

If you want to clean things up, delete old users (and mailboxes with them) from the SBS console. (Becareful not to delete user shared folders [not related to email] unless you know you don't need them.) Wait a few minutes, then run the cleanup agent from the Exchange console.** You can also work with end-users to archive old emails off of their primary mailbox to an archive PST--but those aren't/shouldn't be stored on the server so backing them up from the workstation has to be addressed.

**In the store properties it needs to be set to allow the deletion/purging mailboxes before a full backup has run if you want to get rid of them asap. (Restart is InfoStore process if you make a change to the setting.)

As mentioned earlier this will not reduce the physical size of the store files, but it will "clean things up" and keep the store from dismounting (once it is below the 75GB _logical_ size.)***

***Just ignore the informational events in the system log about the physical size being over 75GB, those events don't hurt anything.

If you are running low on diskspace on the drive the store is on you can do two things 1) Move the stores to another suitable (e.g. internal RAID volume) if you have one available. (A relatively simple process, but it's not just "drag and drop".) 2) Run an offline defrag and use another drive (can even be an USB drive if you take enough precautions, though that will be slow) as temporary storage for the new store files. (An offline defrag doesn't defrag the database "in place" but rather creates a new defragged copy of the database and then moves it into place.)

Depending on your hardware setup, amount of "failsafe" checkpoints (aka additional backups) you make, how closely you monitor the progress (so you know when you can start the next step), and which method you use email can be offline for anywhere from a couple hours to a couple days. (I wouldn't expect it to spend a couple of days running, but from experience life gets in the way when each step can take over an hour to process and it spends allot of its time waiting for you to get back to it.)

PS, If you ever run into something talking about Exmerge to export email out of Exchange 2003 you can usually disregard it as an option.--It can be a bit of a pain to setup/get working compared to other options, especially considering it often only works for a fraction of mailboxes on a system now-a-days. (Exmerge isn't compatible with mailboxes over 2GB.)

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
@ wcllc
"However, since this is Exchange on SBS 2003, the number of ways you have is significantly limited as compared to a full fledged Exchange 2003 install."

I don't know why you made that comment - there is NOTHING different between the Exchange on SBS 2003 and the full product. Perhaps you are confusing it with Enterprise edition of Exchange? Exchange 2003 standard and the Exchange 2003 on SBS 2003 are 100% identical.

@ cdsaus
Not possible to create a new database on Exchange 2003 standard because it only allows a single database. Upgrade to something more modern and you can (Exchange 2003 is no longer supported).

Adam RayCommented:
@sembee, True about Exchange 2003 Std vs Enterprise. It was more poor wording on my part, I was thinking "Enterprise" when I said full fledged. I've just, personally, never had the had the need/use for Exchange 2003 std outside of an SBS install.
cdsausAuthor Commented:
Thanks guys really good advise here

Simon, what i was meaning about creating another database was that i meant why don't i export all mail boxes to PST, then start a new database (still only making one, not multiple) and then import everything back

I agreee i am going to have to move to something newer on this.

I guess the question is now, will i go to Office 365 for this customer or simply build them a new Exchange 2013

They are only about 10 users

I am only starting to do office 365 and just not sure about the whole cloud things as yet

Let me know your opinion

Adam RayCommented:
You can list pros and cons of in house Exchange 2013 vs cloud until you're blue in the face. But since those can be found with a bit of searching on Google, I'll skip over them for now. (Try looking for third party "unbiased" articles on in-house vs cloud before looking at the market materials for specific services, e.g. O365.)

The bottom line is that while it doesn't fit every client's need, I have migrated most of my clients of around that size to Exchange hosting in the cloud. And, in the last year anyway, I have used O365.

One sticking point I have noticed is to make sure the client has a fairly good Internet connection at the office. With only about 10 users it doesn't need to be anything too fancy, but I have seen people have problems when their Internet/router setup is from the technological bronze age.

O365: It can be a more complicated to setup/administer that other options, especially if you're not familiar with the product.--But this does give it more flexibility and options, particularly in licensing. They've slightly changed the feature set since the last time I've checked, so you may want to confirm this is still the case, but you can NOT intermix or change from a Small/Midsize business plan to an Enterprise plan, but you can do so within the Small/Mid and Enterprise subsets. (The most basic Exchange Online Plan 1 is grouped with the Enterprise plans. There is also a little publicized Exchange Online Plan 2 that adds "unlimited" email storage--via In-Place archive--and retention/compliance.) Many of the O365 plans come with subscriptions to the latest versions of Office.*

*Outlook 2010 and 2013 are the only recommended client versions and everyone needs Win 7 or higher. (Outlook 2003 doesn't work at all; without getting into the details Outlook 2007 should be avoided, but may work until MS changes things. Vista should work (with Office 2010) but I know people seem to have mixed results... I've never tried.)

*When I've done the math/forecasting in the past there is no clear answer to what is cheaper. Buying OEM-type license of Office with new computers and upgrading older clients only as required. Or paying for the subscription. Over, say, a 5-year time frame it comes down to product/hardware life-cycle timing, whether it may be worth a little extra for you client to always stay on the latest version, etc. (For example, if most of your workstations already have 2013 installed it would probably not make since to purchase an Office subscription with O365, at least not at first. But it may make sense if most of them are on Office 2003 or 2007--or have 'questionable' licensing statuses.)

Another cloud option I've used is Rackspace. They offer a "hybrid" solution that allows you mix and match Exchange mailboxes with "Rackspace" mailboxes. (A "Rackspace" falls in between a POP/IMAP mailbox and an Exchange mailbox in terms of functionality.) Administration is simpler through their control panel than O365, but it doesn't have all of the options O365 does. (The "missing" options are often go unused in small environments anyway.) They can do some things not available in the CP if you call/email them.

Support wise, I've contact O365 support a couple of times. I will say it was better than I expected, but my expectations were low. Rackspace's claim to fame is their "fanatical" support. I would say they come close to hitting that mark. (And they diffidently do if you measure them compared everyone else in the industry.)
cdsausAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all your help guys it took a little longer to get back to you on this one so my apologies

Anyway looks like i am going to take them to Office 365 Small business Premium

Thanks Again

It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.

Question has a verified solution.

Are you are experiencing a similar issue? Get a personalized answer when you ask a related question.

Have a better answer? Share it in a comment.