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Exchange 2003 Information store size reaching the limit


We have a SBS 2003 sever that seems to keep getting to its limit of 75GB. Since the first time this happened a couple of weeks ago, I have been through the mailboxes and archived mailboxes for users not longer at the company and should have free up at least 10GB but the store has still dismounted a couple of times.

I have changed the maintenance interval so it runs outside working hours Mon - Fri. I can also see the following events in Event Viewer - 700, 702, 703, 1206, 1207, 1216 and 1221 but I have no idea if the maintenance or online defrag is actually running or working. I have also decreased the deleted items retention from 30 days to 15days. Is there a way to for the online defrag?

Is there also a way to find out what the actual size of the store is? as Even though I can see the logs mentioned above, the size of the .edb doesn't seem to decrease.

4 Solutions
Don ThomsonCommented:
Here is how you do it on 2003

Defragmenting an Exchange 2000 or Exchange 2003 database
Note Defragmenting a database requires free disk space equal to 110 percent of the size of the database being processed.

    In Exchange System Manager, right-click the information store that you want to defragment, and then click Dismount Store.
    At the command prompt, change to the Exchsrvr\Bin folder, and then type the eseutil /d command, a database switch, and any options that you want to use.

For example, the following command runs the standard defragmentation utility on a mailbox store database:
C:\program files\exchsrvr\bin> eseutil /d c:\progra~1\exchsrvr\mdbdata\priv1.edb
Use the following database switch to run Eseutil defragmentation on a specific database:
eseutil /d <database_name> [options]
Performs off-line compaction of a database.

Syntax: eseutil /d <database_name> [options]

Parameters: <database_name> is the file name of the database that you want to compact.

You are not required to use any of the following options, but you can use one or more (separated by a space) to specify the operations that you want to perform on the database.

Option         Description
/b<database>   Make a backup copy under the specified name

/t<database>   Set the temporary database name (the default is

/s<file>       Set the streaming file name (the default is NONE)

/f<file>       Set the temporary streaming file name (the default
               is Tempdfrg.stm)

/p             Preserve the temporary database (in other words,
               do not instate)

/o             Suppress logo

/i             Do not defragment streaming file

Note If instating is disabled (for example, if you use the /p option), the original database is preserved uncompacted, and the temporary database contains the defragmented version of the database.

Reference :http://support.microsoft.com/kb/192185
The database won't decrease in size if you delete items.  The online defrag opens whitespace within the database for the addition of new items but doesn't decrease the size.  You have two options to shrink the size of the DB:

1) Offline Defrag - time this takes to complete varies widely based on size of DB, and compute power of the Exchange server.
2) Create a new database and migrate data to it.

Based on my experience, number 2 may be your best option.
granite03Author Commented:
Thanks for the Responses

The second option looks good and probably the least disruptive.

When moving mailboxes do I need to dismount the store or do I just tell the user(s) not to use outlook? and can I do this while the rest of the users are sending and receiving emails?

I'm assuming once the mailboxes have moved across everything will just carry on working on their phones and Outlook, or are there any further steps required to get it all to work again?

They use Active sync for most mobile devices, they also have a BES for a few devices and also use RPC over HTTPS.

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AmitIT ArchitectCommented:
You need to look for third option here. Current option will help you for sometime only. I suggest, it is time for you to move to Exchange 2010 or 2013. 2003 is way old now.
granite03Author Commented:
We are going to be upgrading but in the mean time we need to keep email working.
Amit is right, however let's get through the first issue so that you can take your time with the upgrade.  Simply diving in head first into an upgrade is not a good idea.

For the short term fix, everything should just continue working.  I've not had to reconfigure BES or ActiveSync when I did the move in the past.  BES and ActiveSync have visibility into the Exchange environment.

If you can have two DB's up and running simultaneously, you can migrate the mailboxes live.  (I'd still recommend doing it after hours though).  This will clear out all white space from the DB and give you a window with which to plan your upgrade.

If not, just plan on a Saturday maintenance window (8 hours or so) as only the data will be moved, and not the white space comprising the full 75GB.

EDIT: Fixing confusing statement.
Snagajob ITCommented:
I manage around 150 users and about every 6 - 8 months I create new databases and migrate users. This keeps the databases healthy since any corrupt items are not moved to the new databases and keeps disk utilization under control. I prefer this instead of doing an offline defragmentation and I perform the migrations during the day while users are active. The process is transparent to them. Outlook stays connected and can send/receive as well as any mobile devices.
This assumes the users are using Cached Exchange Mode in Outlook.  If they're running in Online mode, they'll be prompted to restart Outlook because a server side change has been made.  That is the only caveat to PM IT's approach.
granite03Author Commented:

I have managed to free up enough space for the users to carryon working and the store hasn't dismounted for the last few days and the exchange maintenance task is showing that it has freed up enough space to keep this problem away for a while.

I will look at creating a new database and migrating the mailboxes to a some point.

Thanks for all your help and input.
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