Average Mailbox size for mid-size company

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I am tasked to find the average mailbox size of a general Exchange end-user in a mid-size company that is equivalent to one that I work for: 700 to 800 employees with approx. 550 to 600 email accounts. We are trying to come up with a policy to ?encourage? people start cleaning out and deleting unimportant items and archiving the important ones from their inbox and sent items box. Since implementing Exchange 2000 (which was migrated from Groupwise), our storage has grown exponentially in the last two years! We have people that have not cleaned out their inbox in the last five years, and others that are using it for project management / document storage. So, you can imagine all of the same CAD files, pictures, movies, songs, jokes, etc. that are stored in multiple mailboxes throughout our company! We have some users that have a 10-15 GB mailbox size, so we must get a handle on this! So, if I can get an idea what the average mailbox size of a ?normal? end-user using Outlook / Exchange for a company our size, it will help us develop a strategy to manage our Exchange 2000 server more efficiently. Thanks, Keith PS: Moving to Exchange 2003 to help manage our end-users' mailboxes is not an option. We JUST migrated to a pure Windows 2000 server environment from Novell in the last 6 months, and that was a 2.5 year project! More-then-likely, our next Exchange server will be Exchange 2008 using Windows 2008, or something like that.

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We don’t use Exchange, we are in a Domino environment. We have 650 users and we have 100MB quotas on our mail files. Of course, we have cases where someone needs more space, but that is our average.

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  • SJKopischke
    Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of options. If you force individuals to reduce the size of their mailboxes, they will simply store the messages, files, etc. on their local hard drives - thereby causing additional support overhead for restoring accidentally deleted files, shrinking free disk space, etc., or on the network - thereby simply moving the problem from mailboxes to network directories. The reality is that e-mail stores are going to be used for various purposes - all that you have mentioned and more. You need to determine what kind of document and e-mail retention policies may be mandated by your industry or government. In my opinion, the best approach is to encourage the users to place commonly used files (CAD files, spreadsheets, documents) in common locations, per possibly already existing corporate policies. If such policies do not exist, now is a good time to work with management to create them. You also need to consider e-mail use policies if your users are downloading movies, songs, etc. The same holds true for jokes and pictures, though those could be more injurious to the health of the organization, for they could be potentially more offensive, driving up the possibility of lawsuits. There's a lot more going on here than just the need for storage relief.
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  • KeithD1967
    Indeed, SJKopischke, Indeed. Even though we have protested, conjolled, pleaded, and whinned about everything that you stated earlier, our managment has decided to leave it up to the immediate supervisor to do something about it. Our management (Board people, CxO's, etc) are slow in the going to make changes to Internet and email use. I believe it comes from being an old company that has been around for 120 years. Currently, everything is wide open (at least in the use, not the ports) with email and internet usage. We do have an Acceptable Useage Policy, of sorts, but again, the general practice has been that it is on the immediate supervisor to keep tabs on their people. That's kind of like having the fox gaurd the hen-house, would you not agree? We have reminded people to please do not do the jokes, movies, songs, etc. on company time and property, but it is like spitting in the wind here: lots of effort, no results, and everyone is disgusted with you in the end. With regards to to encourage the end-users to place commonly used files: we have, and it does work for some. It seems to work mostly for the newer generation of employees (those who have worked here 10 years or less). Those who have worked here for about 15 or 20 years or more (which is about 50% of our work force), it is like pulling teeth to get them to archive and save files onto the file server: there is a lot of resistance and pain from the customer, and it is not so fun for the puller. With all that said, I was just trying to get a feel of what the average mailbox size is for a company equvialent to our size, with or without restrictions. Thanks.
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  • SJKopischke
    Keith: You're right - you are caught between a rock (management in search of clues) and a hard place (decreasing space for e-mail storage). If management understands numbers, try hitting them with the cost of storage for the movies, music, etc. Hit them with the cost of lawsuits - there is an article in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about a man in a nearby community who is being sued for $600,000 because his nephew downloaded four movies. Even though they were immediately deleted, he's on the hook for the lawsuit. Is your management prepared to go up against the movie industry for the sake of "let's let the supervisors take care of it?" The same holds true for music and pictures - not all of those are free, even though they can be downloaded for "nothing." If management is unwilling to take appropriate actions to prevent the mayhem that can ensue when users know they will not be helpd responsible for their online actions, you may want to consider moving on.
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  • Greeny
    One consideration for mailbox size is how much can you backup and restore efficiently?
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  • Dalejanus
    All I can do is add to the previous posts. Start adding more disk space to your budget. Say you can prove that email storage is growing at X% a year, so every year you will need to add so many hard drives at $$$ per year. Money always gets management attention. Include backup costs and time as well. Also, as mentioned, point out the costs of lawsuits. Not only for copyright violations, but also for sexual harrasment and pornography. Make sure all this stuff is in writing, memos, budgets, etc. so you can CYA if not the company's. It doesn't sound as if you want to leave the company. So you have to live wiht it and just have to point out all the consequences. We are a small company with around 20 users. They keep their mail on their own pcs. Some keep a lot, some keep a litte. Some purge on a regular basis, some have years worth of email. Lucky for me, it is still a low volume. On my server, I keep mailbox size at default 2meg, until they get a large attachment, then I bump it up to 5meg or 10. I don't think anyone is over 10. But all mail is immediately downloaded to the individual pc. Same problem, just a different location. ---Dale
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  • Espettit
    You might want to consider using a mail archiving solution. There are many options and though they won't reduce the storage size they will allow you to seamlessly offload older items (via policy) to cheaper storage such as a SATA array or even a tape library. Having this load moved to an alternate system will also take some of the load off the E2K servers as they only have to process pointers unless someone actually opens an archived item.
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  • TedRizzi
    we are a company about the same size as yours.. I have set our current limits at 60 meg, (we just put up a new exchange 2000 server with 160 gig of storage), under our old exchange 5.5 servers, the limits were 30 meg. as someone else mentioned there are users that require more storage,, we employ exchanges personal folder feature.. everyone has home folders on the network, and I create the personal.pst file in their home folder, we let them store as much as they like there, and it is all still accessable via outlook. this keeps the mailstore down in size. Microsoft recomends that your mail store not exceed 50 gig. the larger and bulker the store, the slower the performance, and greater chance for corruption. We set limits on their mailbox's that force them to move their large emails to their personal folders, or they cannot send email, until they do.
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  • Poppaman2
    I have worked for a variety of organizations both as a permanent employee and as a contractor. While the discussion tread so far has much merit as to what might be done to insure continuity of service or to allow for efficient archiving, not much has been said about the original question, which was asking for guidance on appropriate mailbox sizes... In several of the positions I have been in (in messaging, network and security...), we have used a 40 - 50 MB quota on both Notes/Domino and Exchange/Outlook mailboxes. This allows users to maintain current information (say the past 30 - 60 days) in active inbox, and eventually (how soon depends upon how draconian you wish to be with enforcement of quotas) will train end users to maintain a smaller message store... At one place I worked we were in the process of upgrading from Exchange 5.0 to 5.5 and asked all of our user (about 500) to delete any old or unneeded messages. After the size of our total message store dropped from 8GB to 7.5GB, we took the step of clearing out anything older than 90 days. We received no complaints (of course, there was a full verified backup made prior to the deletion). Another place had an informal 40MB limit. At 45MB, the "Network Nazi" (me) went around and spoke with the "abusers", showing them how to archive in a Notes environment. All but three or four of the 100+ persons on my list complied without complaint, and the balance were VP and higher level executives... Where I work now, there is an enforced policy in place that all messages older than 30 days be archived or deleted. If you don't, the system does it for you. No exceptions. The maximum mailbox size is 50MB. At 45MB, you loose the ability to send mail (recieve is OK). At 50MB, tyou loose all mail functionality except calendar and archive. Period. So, to answer your question, 40 - 50MB seems to be a good size; enforcement of the quota depends on how much you want to p**s people off.....
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  • Sidzilla
    To answer your original question: Exchange has a 16 gb limit on the mail store size. divide that by the number of users to give yourself a rough idea of how much each user can utilize. I think the default limit on mail box size is 10 mb, and that is adjustable through the delivery restrictions on the Exchange General tab on the user's individual profile in Active Directory. This assumes you are using Active Directory and Exchange 2003. As far as limiting users, I have made sure they all know the policy for acceptable use of our mail system and I have left the Exchange limits in place with a couple of exceptions. My Marketing department utilize large attachments frequently, so I upped their limit. My Sales Reps download their files to their remote locations, so I made their limits smaller. If anyone loses a file and they didn't have it where they were supposed to keep it, I let their supervisor know that they have a problem. I have found that when a critical file is lost they start listening. CYA by documenting the fact that the user was notified of where to store files, what files to store, and what is acceptable use. That is all you can control, and that is all you can worry about. It's the old Lead a Horse to Water syndrome.
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  • KeithD1967
    Wow, thank you all for your responses. You all have a lot of good ideas and your suggestions have much insight. I can tell many of you have been through the ?School-of-Hard-Knocks,? and wish to keep me from doing the same. Thank-you all! With regards to documentation and CMB (it?s not CYA ? I am not covering YOUR butt, but MINE!): we are documenting all recommendations and issues that we send to higher, it?s just out of our hands (The LAN staff) with regards to enforcing the policy ? it is up to our CFO and HR to get something out and make it mandatory. I just got hired into this company and I am the low-guy on the pecking-list; therefore, if the heat came down, I can plead ignorance. Better yet, I could find a desk to hide under, start drooling, and plead insanity. :) With regards to storage solutions to solve our large Exchange stores (BTW, we have Exchange Enterprise, so we are not limited to a 16GB store size): we are in the process of researching a document management solution, which hasn?t? been decided as of yet. We have about five vendors that are putting together a plan, which they will submit soon. I am just glad I am not the project leader on this fiasco. All I know is that those who are using our Exchange server for their own document and project management will more-then-likely be forced to off-load their documents to this new document management solution ? whatever that morphs into. It will take a while, because bad-habits are hard to break, but eventually we IT people will make them all see the light. Yeah, right. I will believe THAT will happen like I believe there will soon be a bug-free software or OS with no security holes that will be available on a first release. Either that, or Heck freezes over ? whatever comes first. :) But to automate the off-loading of attachments to a file, that's asking for us to move into the year 2000! The point is, there is resistence of sorts to moving into better technology. In about two to three years, much of the upper management will be retiring, allowing us to bring in fresh blood and thinking. When that happens, we will be able to look at possibly implementing many of the great ideas that you all have suggested; just not right now. Thanks again for all of your ideas, suggestions, and helpful hints in helping to keep my life (and career) as carefree as possible; as carefree as any IT person could get. But when you throw in the 50-60 work weeks, pager, cell phone, 03:00am phone calls, etc., reality comes crashing back.
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  • Lorieb
    Read this towards the bottom: http://www.msexchange.org/tutorials/Art-Science-Sizing-Exchange-2003-Part2.html Calculate how much disk space you have, how much it costs for Exchange and your File server and throw it back at managment to decide how much money they are willing to spend for their users storage. Then calculate how much time it would take to restore your mailbox store because of this size and tell them how long they could possibly be down in a worse case scenario. When you figure out this, then you can enforce a policy with reasoning.
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  • Stevesz
    Looking at all the replies already posted, the answer seems to be a very definitive it depends. And, indeed, it does depend on any number of factors. The largest client I handle has only 50 users--a bit lower than you are asking about, but I think that what I am about to say is applicable. They moved to Exchange several years ago. At that time we took a look at the usage of their current e-mail usage. Then we looked at the number of accounts, and the 16 GB limit of the Exchange 2K store. We came up with a limit of 200 MB. This also allowed of the extra accounts that get used constantly or periodically. It also allowed for room to increase the storage limit for individuals on a case by case basis. We also determined that delete items would be purged after 45 days, since users had a tendency to delete and never empty the trash. Also, Sent Items were retained for 60 days. If users wanted to save sent items, they would need to move them to another location. Since then we have added a spam filter, and the spam folder has messages purged after 14 days (to allow for time out of the office). At first, the hard limitwas set at 200 MB, but then mail was rejected, along with a warning at 175 MB and a ban on sending at 195 MB. Once we realized that bouncing mail was not a real good policy, we did away with the hard limit, so mailboxes can continue to collect mail, but the send limit remained, but was upgraded to the 200 MB limit. As anticipated, we have increased the size of some mailboxes like the President's (g), and a few other VIP's, but it has, as a whole worked very well.Of course, again as we had anticipated, we do have the cronic people who feel they should have as much storage as they need, and ignore the warning messages until it is too late, but repeatedly getting no sympathy, they have somewhat come aboard. All users have PST files to store their overage (writers are such collectors of the useless and inane), for which we take no responsibility. They will be upgrading to Exchange 2K3 around the first of the year, so we will be taking another look at these policies shortly, and they may change, but it is unlikely. The policy on the Sent messages will again be run past the lawyers, but we do not anticipate a change here either, since we are not yet supject to any of the recent regulatory laws and regulations. Their store is around 12 GB right now, and has been for sometime, with around 1-2 GB of white space at any given time. So take a look at these things in thier current state (you can export mail box sizes from Exchange Manager and manipulate them in a spreadsheet. There is stuff out there that will search your mailboxes and return sizes of folders also. No matter what you do, there will be someone who thinks they got the short end of the stick. The 200 MB limit we arrived at years ago was widely viewed as undue interference even though they did not have even a quarter of that at the time of the migration. Go figure. Steve
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  • Smahaf
    Hi... After reading your post and all the replies I have to say that as the IT Department it is also your job to stress to the senior managers and the board of the possible problems in recovering from a failure with such large accounts..... I have found that the best way is to be firm but fair... we use Exchange 2000 and have suffered when accounts have increased dramatically over a short period of time and shut the message store down.... nobody likes being without email!!! I think the best thing you can do is install a software package which allows you to identify file types (some AV packages do this we use Trend mailscan) and then start removing the movies, mp3's etc etc all none work related material.. and you will be supprised how much space you will free up. Then sort the accounts by size and manually go through the top 10 or 20 accounts (after making sure you have a full GOOD backup) start removing the ancient emails which will never be read again... and start freeing up the space. I agree with the other posters 100 - 150MB is more than enough for most users (obviously there are exceptions). We generally send emails out to the people with the biggesr accounts and ask them to start cleaning up by a certain date maybr 1 months time.... after that date we go into the account and sort by size and start zapping... it is very rare for anybody to come back and ask for anything to be restored. A very easy way to free up space is to make sure all the accounts deleted items are emptied regulary... I have had accounts with thousands and thousands of emails in the deleted items in the past. A package I have used to audit mail accounts is Promodag a little tricky to set up at first but able to give all sorts of useful info on storage... account usage etc etc Hope this helps Thanks Steven Mahaffey
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  • KDXpress
    There is more to think abou than just the size of the users mailbox size. I have found the best way to set limits is by setting other admin limits first. How long do you want to spend doing a restore for the exchange server? How long do you want to spend restoring a single mailbox? Is the policy going to be tiered. Some companies have something like information users = 25MB, Dept Heads = 50MB and Co Execs= 75MB. There a 100s of ways to break it down but since this is the first time the users are going to run into the limits go low and get all of the pain over with this time around. Once you set the mailbox size limit you will have to set the network drive size, provided you are storing user information on the network, so they just do not move the messages to the file server. Then while writing the policy be sure to include that you will do full mailbox restores and not individual mail restores. This will certainly help you out in the long run. There is also a training exercise that goes along with showing the users how to manage and maintain a certain mailbox size. We move 2500 user from Lotus Notes to Exchange 2K and went through all of these issuses.
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  • Stevesz
    This is a pretty good discussion. Now, I'm not going to say that you need to set a limit of x MB per mailbox, because I don't know what your exact situation is. The mailbox size will need to be set by you (meaning your company as a policy) taking into account how the mail is used. For example, Department Y gets a lot of drawings in, and needs a mailbox size, per user, of 300 MB, while Department X needs only a size of 100 MB, and Group Z (receptionist, mail room, etc.) only need 10 MB. The only way to determine this is to involve all the supervisors and other powers that be in your company to sit down and explain how the mail is used, and arrive at some limits. You can help this along by pulling up the mailbox sizes that now exist in Exchane System Manager--export this to a CSV file and then put in a spreadsheet. I pull one of these a week, and we occasionaly take a look at them to determine how the sizes are holding. You'll probably wan tot set Exchange to send a message as the mailbox is approaching the limit, to give people a chance to clean up their act (establishment of PST files can help here), then prohibit send when the limit is reached. I'd not prohibit receive at the limit, since you can run into problems with important mail bouncing. I'd also set mailbox manager to delete items from certain folders with at some predetermined age. Deleted Items is a good one to do this to. If you have a Spam folder, that should have a short shelf life for messages to remain. With other folders, you start running into grey areas that may or may not be covered by existing law and regulations pertaining to your company and/or industry, so I'd take a long look before I touch other folders. Once you have articulated teh policy, get it in writing and signed off by all managers. Announce the policy to the users, with a time line for implementation of the policy which gives people time to clean up their act. I'd want ot implement the warning right away, so those who are exceding the limits set will be awae that they are ans should be cleaning up. When the policy goes into effect is when you set the prohibit send (and immediately take a short leave so you need not listen to the whining). Steve
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  • Bearlicker
    I agree in the most part with previous answers but some other things to consider: Limiting mailboxes is the only way forward, however if you permit users to create PST files you merely transfer you Exchange space problem into a server space problem. So consider a GPO to restrict that menu item in Outlook. It is possible to allow IT staff to create PST on behalf of users who want to archive. You need to engage your users into helping you with advertising a good e-mail usage policy ("Is you e-mail really necessary?" was ours and included such advice as sending links not attachments, deleting attachments from sent items). How you do this depends on the size of your company. You might also want to consider content/spam management. We introduced spam filtering a couple of years ago and reduced our incoming mail to 30% of our previous traffic.
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  • KeithD1967
    To All: All of this information is very, very, very good in terms of Email / Exchange management, especially with regards to disk space and frivilous use of email. We have done a lot of informing of people what the future is, and have made plans for better email management in the near future when we switch from E2K to E2K3. Where I am at, with the company I work for, has been around for 130+ years; therefore, there is a mind-set that is very hard to change until the current middle-management retires and "fresher" blood (thinking) comes in. We do have a great CFO who came in a couple of years ago(who is above our main IT manager) who has personally made all department heads aware of our email situation. Because of what these dept.'s want to save and use our current email setup (as a document / project management software, not just email), our IT dept. and the CFO have made everyone aware that a full email restore will take 2-3 days because of what all of the dept. heads want to save. Recently, we had one of our mailbox stores crash, and it was down for 2 days. When people started to complain that they couldn't email or get any of their information, the CFO replied that they knew what they were in for, and that they had to tough-it out. He also said that they used to use regular mail and telephone before we had email (which came online about four years ago), so he told them to "stop complaining, and get back to work." I thank-you all for the time that you given me and your information that you all have provided. Your comments is helping me, and will help all of those who will search out for similar information. I am deeply touched by all of the responses that I have received because your comments, wisdom, and concern to help me to "cover-my-butt" will make me a better System Anaylyst / Network Admin. Again, I give all a deep-hearted thank-you. Keith.
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  • Jcan123
    Just another thought - doesn't seem to have been mentioned here. Just charge the departments with a x$ cost for each MB of email storage they are claiming. This will probably get their attention and it will help you finance extra hardware/software.
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  • Brontvain
    a quick plan: a) deploy exchange b) set a restricted policy to avoid getting the exchange log files full (aka "mailbox store") c) when users complain that they cannot send or receive due to quota restriction, use the Auto Archive option in Outlook, forcing them to dwonload their mailbox on a pst file e) use the exchange merge toold for extracting certain files from mailboxes (such as mpeg, avi, jpeg, etc etc)
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