Mailbox Limits

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Microsoft Exchange
I'd like to hear what others are doing regarding mailbox sizes and limits. What are your limits, if any. How is backup handled? Is you mailbox policy the same for all end-users? Thanks in advance, Pamela
ASKED: July 20, 2006  11:13 AM
UPDATED: August 3, 2006  8:03 PM

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When we were on Exchange 5.5, we TRIED to keep the user mailboxes to 50 MB, but there were a number of exceptions to that rule. Now that we’re on Exchange 2003, we’ve upped the limit to 150 MB per user. Obviously, there will always be exceptions to any mailbox quota you try to implement. Salespeople, for instance, seem to be genetically incapable of adhering to any mailbox limits and, since they’re out there making money for the company, we tend not to fight them. Same goes for the execs.

We’ve only recently migrated to Exchange 2003, so I’m still using the same backup approach (whole IS). What we’re doing, though, is breaking up the users into different file groups to ease the pain of restores. That allows us to take advantage of the Recovery Storage Group. I may still use brick-level backups for a small group of users, but that hasn’t been decided yet.

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  • Auggz69
    We have a company wide policy on mail quota and mail purge. We stictly enforce mail quotas on all users and perform an automatic purge every six months. This has eliminated our disk space problems tremendiously
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  • Petroleumman
    Hello, In our organization we are running Exchange 2003 but are only hosting 44 mailboxes, so we are not imposing any limits at this point. Disk space has not yet become an issue. Should it get to that point then yes, we would move to inforced quotas. Our biggest issue lies more with enforcing written policy regarding ettiguette and acceptable use among end users. We can implement the technology but without support from management to enforce policy it's like pounding your head against a wall. As for backups, we are currently backing up to tape using Symantec (Veritas) Backup Exec 10d w/ Exchange agent. This helps us get complete backus of the information store mailbox by mailbox. We are in the process of moving to a D2D solution with software capable of doing brick level Exchange backups. Should be up and running by end of summer. Thanks!
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  • JoeGillis
    We're running Exchange 2000 on a Win2k SBS server, and limit mailbox sizes to 200MB, there are a couple of exceptions however where we increase the limit to 400MB. Users, particularly those with the upper limits, make use of PST files to manage the overflow, and older messages. Fortunately, we have only about 40 mailboxes. This is becoming a bigger and bigger problem, since noone wants to delete any messages, and attachments have grown to multi-megabit. In some instances we are using a product called attachment save that strips attachments from the email and provides a link in the email to the location where the attachment is saved. On forward the attachment is automatically re-attached to the outgoing message.
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  • jimorus
    Mailbox limits appear to meant to be pushed by nearly everyone. PST's work to a point but also become too large and waste space elsewhere and if Joe leaves do we keep his mail or delete it and how do we know all the places he stored it? And who does it belong to? The agreement the employee signed says it belongs to the company, but what does the Constitutionn say? Thomas Jefferson and the boys did a wonderful job but they didn't have a clue about email. Then there is HIPAA, SOX and SEC regulations to deal with that mandate retention of some mail for 20+ years. If you deal with health insurance or healthcare, or you are a publicly traded company or do stock trading you fall under one or more of these areas. The storage we have today won't even be readable in 20 years. Where does that leave all the stuff we sent to Iron Mountain or burned off the CD's, DVD's or ATA drives. Archiving products that meet all government requirements are expensive, but anyone in a publicly traded company will need one before too long. They also eat tremendous amounts of storage space, but use a better compression algorythm than Exchange and do thier best to maintain single instance storage. Microsoft had a Technote on mail retention that completely disappeared just after Enron. It said delete anything over 90 days old. Do not try this today without consulting your legal department and then get it in writing. Enron knocked that baby out of the park and got big brother involved in Email. My advice follows and it is worth every penny you pay for it and remember that opinions are similar to the seat of your pants, everybody has one and everybody else's stinks. 1. Know where you sit within the State and Federal rules on mail retention and if you are stuck with following them get an archiving product that meets your needs. Also know the state rules of any state in which you have customers as that state's rules apply to you in your dealings with that customer. 2. Don't let the users store PST's locally if you have any government guidelines to follow. 3. Save all PST's to a centralized location and back them up. Remember that you do not have control over what a person may delete and it could leave a big hole in legal procedings. Check into archiving. 4. Realize that the rules relating to government regulations are very liquid and subject to change momentarily. 5. Your mail server is a mail delivery vehicle not a storehouse. Clean up the mail store and it performs better. SBS and Standard versions of Exchange have limits on database size and will shut you down when you information store reaches them. It is very unpleasant when it happens right in the middle of a big day. And it may take you a minute to actually figure out that the size limitation is biting you and not something else
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  • Bamaro70
    We run notes and our users have no maximum limit, a quota of 300MB and a warning at 200MB. Even with this generous allowance, there are many exceptions and one users mailfile is actually over 11GB!
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  • Stevesz
    Mailbox limits are a tricky thing to implement. you will always run into resistance, and the exceptions you have to make to the rule. There is no one rule fits all when it comes to mailbox limits. Among things you need to consider are the kind, frquency and size of mail that you recieve. Your company may be governed by regulations and/or laws that require the retention of certain e-mail for a period of time. I've seen situations where the mail is totally out of control. No limits, very large mailboxes, no policies governing the use of e-mail and so on. On the other hand, I've seen situations where e-mail usage was strictly governed, and mailboxes allowed only a very small size for most. And, I've seen situations at all the various points in between these two extremes. If yu are going to develop mailbox policies, you'll need to get the managers on boars with you, develop the policy with them, and then strictly enforce the policies you come up with. I do feel, however, that, even though you have the ability to do it, you should not stop the flow of mail into the mailbox of an individual (pretty bad business when the mail of an important lient or customer gets bounced because of a full mailbox) though you can disallow th send of mail from a mailbox that is over the limit. You may wish to look into e-mail archiving solutions. These are not cheap, but the user does not know the archived mail is no longer really on the server, but srtored in an archive. To them it looks as though mail is still available from the store. Store and archive size are also considerations. The larger they are, the longer they take to backup, and restore, should a restore be necessary. If you are not doing regular maintenance on the store, you might also want to look into this to delete items of a certain age (based on modification date) in the deleted items, junk e-mail, and other folders rather than relying on the users to do so.
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  • LuisHernandez
    Each company should define their own rules, security and backup political from its email system. The most sensible is to begin creating political that define which are the natural limits about using email. These politicians say if you can use email for confidential communications, the nature of the language and appropriate content without violating the privacy of people, the basic approaches to open or reject email from unknown or incompatible with the business and values of the organization, the backup approaches, availability of the service, who can have mail box, etc. The politicians usually establish the frequency to erase email, the backup frequency and similar. I will center now about your concern: limits and backups. These, of course, should be aligned or appropriate with the business type, the technology you have implemented (limitations of space could be set by the email server), the politics you adopted and the budget to support your needs. For example, generic mail (customerservices@company.com), the emails from the big manager, personnel of sales, the general workers, etc, all them, may have different treatments. It is common to set some limits in the email?s size that is possible to receive, to send, and storing. Limit as 10 to 30 Mb it is common for regular staff. It is increased according to the nature of the job or user (especially those that need the email as a tool for their work). For example the customer service email box usually has some Gigabytes. Depending how crucial is the information in the emails, it is necessary to obtain backups and to keep them for a period of time that is concordant with the regulations and the business. The backups usually is stored and keep it for a period of the last 30 days and sometimes follow some similar rules to the countable systems (they keep the backups belong to the end of the month for 10 year-old ). Some regulations ask to keep 6 months the emails. Summarizing: The backups is retained depending on how critical is the information (emails of the legal department and customer services usually are retained more time) and the regulations that is applied to your business sector. The period should be agreed with the users and translated in political. To have a backup of the last 30 days is common. The backup usually is obtained at night in a time defined previously. Depending on user's type you set the limits. But these limits should be set and known by all and saying in the politicians. Typical limits are 10 to 30Mb for regular staff, 50 to 100 Mb for personal of sales, 100 to 200MB for managers and legal peoples, and several hundred for customer services. These limits will depend of the applied technology (it is different to keep the email in the server or to transfer them to the user's Pc: each scenario has its positive and negative things). Best regards Luis Hernandez
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  • SooseaQ
    Our default mailbox size is 800 MB but the rule is lifted for about 40 or so certain individuals. Our largest mailbox size is 6GB (Grrrrrrrr.....). We backup mail on the servers but laptop users with mail archives are responsible for backing themselves. We support approx 550 mailboxes worldwide spread out over 7 or 8 mail servers.
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  • Rayne427
    I work in local government, so you can imagine that there are several exceptions to the mailbox size limitations. That being said, we encourage all of our users to use the Auto Archive feature in Outlook and save the PST files off to a NAS server. This gives us a backup of past emails without leaving the load on the Exchange server. We are running Exchange 2003 SP2 and have run into the 18GB ceiling a couple of times. We do find that for the most part, the archiving process is working. We are using Veritas BackupExec 10.1 and backing up all Exchange information from the mail server and we are also able to backup the archived PST files as well.
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  • ALV426
    We run with a default of 40Mb for all users. Exceptions are based on business requirements with a few reaching 100Mb. Users have a 200Mb disk quota on AD which is backed up daily (as are the exchange server stored PST files). They can use it to store their PST file if they wish, or they can save it locally - which makes them responsible for their own backups. I inform users to keep their inboxes below 700Mb to allow easy backup onto CD. Microsoft also mention that PST files should not be larger than 850Mb as data corruption can occur (although I believe the maximum 'officially' supported size is 2Gb)
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  • Maclanachu
    We have a two node back end Ex2003 SP2 enterprise and two Front-Ends in a Network Balanced mode setup. Our storage is a real beauty that I cannot recommend enough. We use a NetApp filer that does snapshots of our mail DB including changes. I can very easily get up to the past two weeks of mail on site using the Single Mailbox Restore for all those idiots who delete important mails. We have a two working week off site tape rotation and a monthly backup that is permanently archived, ie not rotated. We just use Win 2003 NTBackup with it's Ex DB backup feature and it works fine. If push comes to shove we can retrieve old mails from tapes restoring the DB to a recovery group but it's a pain and takes a lot of time. Users have limits, some more then most. But they will always be able to receive mails when they reach their limits, not send. We have auto-archiving setup with Outlook that moves the storage problem from Ex to elsewhere in the Network. Laptop users that insist on keeping their PSTs locally bc it is obviously a major drama that they cannot access an old mail until they are next in the office have been warned, repeatedly, that if they lose it that they are stuffed bc local machines are not backed up. There is a policy on our intranet regarding this and policy's and guidelines on how to use PSTs. To further help these (ab)users we have a simple batch script with a shortcut on their desktop that will backup the PST to their network share. Another way around is if users access the network via VPN they can then open outlook to get at their PST that way. Otherwise Outlook gives an error saying the PST is unavailble. Laptop users have Outlook set up in cached mode so they have a local copy of their mail. I also discourage users from letting their PSTs grow over 2GB. There used to be a problem of PSTs becoming corrupted in older versions of Outlook when this size was reached. Outlook 2003 supposedly fixed this but I have my doubts. For this reason users are advised to create a new PST when this limit is reached. SOX and all those requirements do not effect us here in NZ - yet, but no doubt it's on the way. Mac
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