Exchange 2003 STD database keeps filling up

5 pts.
Tags:
Administration
Database issues
Exchange 2003
Microsoft Exchange
Our Exchange database keeps filling up and shutting us down. We have 2003 Std so I know the limit is 16GB. When we view the mailboxes in the management concole nobody exceeds 50MB, we have 150 users, which should total no more than 7.5GB. > Where is the other space being taken up? > Is the view just of the Inbox sizes? > How can I force the Deleted Items to clear at globally and disallow users from changing this setting? > Is the any way to set Archive based on folder size? Sorry for so many questions but this is getting critical. Help!! TIA Rod

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  • Stevesz
    Is it that your store fills up, or is it that you are running out of drive space? You should allow the Exchange maintenence to run nightly. You will find entries in the Event Viewer for Applications that will indicate that state of your store when these utilities are run. Backups with an Exchange aware backup program should be done religiously. Ensure that the program will commit and remove the logfiles. You do not mention the volume of mail handled each day. You may want to check your deleted items retention. If your users are getting a lot of mail. and deleting many items, this may be the source of your problem. I believe the default setting is 30 days. You might want to reduce it to 14 days. Spam is always a problem. You might want to implement a gateway spam filter that will stop spam from even getting to your store. This will relieve some pressure on your users' mailboxes and reduce the number of deleted items. The largest Exchange installation I have responsibility for has 90 mailboxes, each with a 200 MB limit (naturally there are some exceptions with higher limits), and the size of that store runs about 7.5 GB. With the proper care and feeding of your Exchange installation, there is no reason you should be having this problem. Steve//
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  • Getmygto
    The drive has space, and we are keeping care of the log files. This problem is the store/database files. The priv1.stm file is 938 Meg and the priv1.edb is 14.8 Gig. I have used the Exchange System Manager to identify individual mailbox sizes and cleaned the larger (>50MB) ones, but now I read the manager doesn't show the true size of both priv1 files. It seems there is a large amount of space being taken up by something other than user mailboxes. We don't have much in Shared Folders. I wish I knew what was in each file. We have run both online and offline defrags. We do use Backup exec (Veritas). We send/receive several gigabytes of mail a day as there are architects and graphic designers that send large files. However, they are offline over ther weekend and our cleaning doesn't seem to help the priv1 file size. We have set our deleted items retention to zero (0). We have a Spam filter (SurfControl) that checks the mail before it even reaches the server. It catches around 500 messages a day, maybe 20% are not really spam so I think it is overly filtered. I can find no reason we should be having this problem either. Obviously we're missing something very large that needs cleaned/removed. Further suggestions are welcome to help us identify this problem. Rod
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  • Getmygto
    I wanted to let you know that after babysitting a complete online and offline defrag our mailbox size went from 16GB to 4GB. The probalem apparently was the regularly scheduled online defrags never really completed? Maybe we need to look at our backup schedule. Anyway, thank you. Rod
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  • Sbusiso
    Ensure that your log files are kept on a seperate drive and you also need to ensure that your backup clears your logs files,everytime it runs successfully...
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  • Maclanachu
    yep, had the same problem here and an offline defrag and integrity check sorted it out. We use ordinary NTBAckup with our 2003 and that does an online defrag too. Regarding clearing deleted items in outlook : Tools Options Other and tick the clear deleted items upon exiting boxes. Dunno how can prevent users from undoing this tho. Most r too thick to figure it out anyway...
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  • Nickd9999
    An online defrag doesn't lower the size of your database. It only clears deleted space so new data can fill it up. Be carefull not to run off-line defrag too often as it will remove the benefit of Single Instance Storage ( a message appearing in multiple mailboxes will take up only 1 space)and could be causing lower system performance. A large number of log files could also be caused by people using the search functions in OWA. Consider using circular logging if this is the case. If your backup solution allows it try running full backups twice a day. To lower the amount of spam that enters your organisation enable connection filtering and consider installing Microsoft IMF with a high setting at the gateway level. Completely disabling retention is not a good idea, users retrieving deleted items by themselves instead of you searching the backup tape for 1 important message will save a lot of time. Don't bother with the deleted items setting, if you set mailbox quota to deny send when a certain treshold is reached users will suddenly be able to do this all by themselves. WKR Nick Dewitte
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  • Getmygto
    Hey Nick, what is 'too often'? I was thinking of beginning Monthly offline backups. We'll try bumping the retention up a tad. I'm amazed (well, it is MS) that we can control the delete on exit through some global policy. Rod
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  • Pedwards17
    I have a couple of questions: First, when was the last time you ran a defrag on the database? Second: How often do you run Exchange backups?
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  • Nickd9999
    Getmygto I assume you mean monthly off-line defrags. An offline defrag is not part of normal maintenance. It should be used only in some circumstances where important changes took place in your database like user moves or deletes. MS states that an unneeded offline defrag can hurt performance and could mean a larger database because you will lose the benefit of Single Instance Storage (check your performance counters to check if you benefit from this.) Check this post too which more or less is the "official" standpoint: http://blogs.technet.com/exchange/archive/2004/07/08/177574.aspx Also take care when you want to enforce stuff like clearing deleted items at exit and at the same time lower the retention time. Unless you are doing brick level backups you could be faced with restoring your database to a different server to get that one important e-mail back from someone from upper management. Educating your users will IMHO yield better results than enforcing settings by GP (I consider mailbox size limits also a sort of education). You should be worried more by the risk of users creating PST's on their local hard disks then about the deleted items folders. Consider creating a document for your users how to enable autoarchiving stuff like their sent items to a pst located on their home folder until SP2 is here. The exchange 2003 service pack 2 will increase the maximum mailbox size to 100Gb for the standard edition so you will gain more headroom in the second half of this year. You will still have to backup all your data so the limit will rather be your hardware limitation and your backup window.
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  • Aknair
    Getmygto, Nick is right it won't be wise to force to the "delete when exit" option. You could probabaly use mailbox size limitations, like in my organization, we have 250MB per user, but the user receives warning messages (about increasing mailbox size) when he touches 180MB. The he loses his capability to "send" emails when his mailbox hits 200MB (he will continue to receive emails till though). So this forces the user to start using his pst file as a backup. He can move "not so important" messages into the pst file and leave the rest on the server. Also...Nick i think SP2 will crank up the capacity to 75GB (not 100GB). On the website they dont talk abt Public stores...i hope this change will be reflected on Public stores as well. http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/downloads/2003/sp2/overview.mspx regards, aknair
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  • Nickd9999
    aknair Right about the 75 (should be enough too) and I as understand the public folder limit will be 75 too. About the pst, make sure it's on a backupped location too. To prevent the size issue to move from your exchange to your file shares implement quota on those too. Also in all Outlook versions prior to 2003 the pst limit is 2 gb. Proper education and monitoring is the best way to keep user data at bay.
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  • Stevesz
    I've had a terrible busy week, and I am just gettin gto this now, so sorry for the delay. I your reply you mention that if you add up the mailbox sizes, it shows taht there is a lot of space taken up by something unknown. This is probably "white space" in your store. If you look at your Application Log in Event Viewer for Event ID 1221, it will tell you how much white space you have in your store. This will probably come close to, if not equal, the amount of space that is taken up by "something". As new mesages come in, they will utilize this white space and not increase teh size of your store further. There is no need to do an offline defrag, unless you have an extraodinary large amoount of white space when compared to your used space, like you have 13 BB of white space, and 1.5 GB of data. Once you have done this off line defrag, the store will inevitably need to expand again, and it will, as need dictates. However, this does take processing power and may slow things down a bit when it is happening. You mention, I think, establishing limits on mailbox size. This can be a dicey move. People will complain. You also have the added disadvantage of dealing with people who handle large files on a regular basis, and people will not wan topt lose this capability. When I had a client move to Exchange, the mailbox limits were discussed, and increased 10 fold. You would not believe the complaints that were recieved about people's capabilities being limited by the IT department. Of course, this argument faded pretty quickly when it was pointed out that they would have much more storage space than under the old mail server . The same hue and cry went up when they were told that there would be a limit on the size of attachments. Again, it was an increase, same result. But, in order to handle the large graphic files needed by one department, we set up an FTP site for them to be sent to and placed on for retrieval when needed. However, going from no limit to a limit will give people's arguments validity, and may be hard to overcome without strong backing from management. As mentioned by others, SP 2 will increase your store size to 75 GB, which should take some of the worry away from you. Just ensure you have a drive large enough to hold the store (probably would need a RAID array), otherwwise you WILL need to establish mailbox limits not to go over your drive size. It is fairly easy to move the store to a new location. Steve//
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