Maximum Message Size (Exchange SMTP)

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Microsoft Exchange
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Encouraged by the helpful responses to the recent question about mailbox quotas I?d like to pose a related question: What size limits to you impose on inbound/outbound SMTP messages? BACKGROUND: We have 40,000+ email users in an Exchange network spanning 160+ locations around the world. Currently we limit SMTP email sizes (both in and out) to 2 MB, with plans to increase this limit to 5 MB as we upgrade to Exchange 2003. CHALLENGE: Key user groups with legitimate business requirements are asking for size limits to be raised to 10, 25 and even 50 MB. In most cases they need to trade very large documents with regulatory bodies that (because they can!) refuse to learn how to spell ?FTP?. My concern is that bumping the size limit could place undue strain on perimeter filtering (i.e., virus/spam etc.), MTA and message store resources. I?m looking for two things: (1) An indication of best practice in this area: What limits are others enforcing? (2) Alternative solutions in use, such as relying on an externally-hosted service for those with huge size requirements (e.g., with direct POP3 or Web mail access). Thanks in advance for sharing your experience!

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In response to your question, the maximum standard usually allowed is 5mb per email. File sizes larger than that can slow the server response, should regular transfer of greater than 5mb be allowed.

A simple solution for this is to place an automated ftp upload page on your website where the end user can visit, choose upload, browse for file and click ok. This way they do not need to learn the ins and outs of ftp protocol.

Another option is to encourage the use of file compression [zip, tar, rar] prior to transmission of the file.

Hoope this helps.

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  • Bob04222
    I'm not sure it's a question of imposing limits as much as it's a question of providing a service. If you can be reasonably sure the large attachments will help people do thier jobs more efficiently (as opposed to sending Aunt Martha pictures of their recent vacations), then you should make sure you (and they) have the resources to handle the increased volume and sizes of mail. It's really a management decision as opposed to an IT decision.
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  • CesareDH
    There are a number of ways to transfer large files (50MB) free over the Internet without you setting your limits that high, tho I do feel 10MB is reasonable from both standpoints.
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  • Csmmis
    I work in an industry where .pdf documents are often required, and where the senders are often very UNsavvy about formats, file sizes, or anything else remotely "technical." As a result, we frequently receive documents which were scanned into .pdf format (as images, not OCR'd) and are quite large. We've bumped our limit to 10 MB. That has eliminated most of our problems.
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  • Stevesz
    We do have a lot of photos and artwork that comes into our business. We have set the attachment limit at 15 MB. Anything that is larger needs to be FTP'd to our FTP site. No ifs ands or buts about it. If it is going out, it needs to be FTP'd to their site, or placed on the X-drive service used by one of the company's we do a lot of business with. Zipping a file, as someone else mentioned earlier is not the glorius option it used to be. Many places now block ZIP files because of the number of virus that use the ZIP format to try to elude capture. PDF files may be an option for those who need to send large documents. You can get some pretty high rates of compression with Acrobat (though not many people realize that increasing the compression is an option). However, if they need to be edited by the recieving party, it adds a layer of complexity to the process. Steve
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  • Nileshroy
    We have a lot of media files flowing in & out. Though my network user base is not as big as yours. What I have done is as follows: Create User groups or Units Put Users in various Units Define limits based on Groups. In my case, Default every users get 10 MB. Managers get 25 MB. HeavyDuty users get 50 MB. See if ths works for you. Regards, Nilesh Roy.
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  • Zaphod
    My thanks to all those who took the trouble to share their thoughts. Regarding the comment from mgregory: "automated ftp upload page": This is indeed a useful technique for SENDING large messages; it's less generally applicable for inbound messages, since its workabilitiy depends on the sophistication of the sender -- we as receiver have no control over its use. Thanks again.
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  • Solutions1
    One further point - take compliance "friendliness" into account. For many companies and institutions, being able to archive, index and search outgoing communications is important from regulatory/legal. It is vastly easier to do so if communications "packages" (typically text email plus attachments) travel together. A generous email (both ways)limit avoids the compliance complications created if users split communications between email and ftp or worse still between voice/Instant messaging and ftp.
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  • TheVyrys
    "Key user groups" Depending on your set up, one possibility would be to create a common/shared mailbox with a large limit, allow the key users access and have any big files sent to that address only. They then could access the shared mailbox, save the file to disk and delete the message. This would allow administration or supervision of the files to a degree and keep the users personal mailboxes under a tighter limit. One immediate problem would be privacy, but I understood that the type of document they downloaded was probably regulatory, indicating 'regulations' or such. These are probably shared among the groups anyway if that is the case. If there are only a limited number of these key user groups this may work, if there are many, it could be an administrative nightmare, so this is a "maybe" solution, again, depending on your situation. It has worked for me in the past. good luck. everybody loves you when they need you
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  • Juswannano
    As a consultant, I can share that most sites I have worked with are larger and impose limits of between 8MB and 12MB. Over the past few years, as the cost of drive space has gone down, messaging databases have grown considerably. While I have seen a few sites with 50MB + email size limititations, this is quite rare. Most organizations will not accept these sizes of messages, causing the senders mail system to waste twice as many resources on these messages for naught. If you really need to move large files via email, and you don't want to impose FTP on your users, there are products that can tie into your SMTP mail system to automatically and securely redirect any message that meets certain criteria, such as size or message content sensitivity, over to an alternate delivery route such as HTTPS. These tools are being used to help organizations comply with multiple federal privacy regulations. Run a web search for keywords: Secure + Redirect + Email to learn more about these...
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  • Genderhayes
    Customize the settings for the Exchange 2000 or Exchange 2003 organization, a specific connector, a specific virtual server, and an individual user start point to programs, point to Microsoft exchanges and then click system manager expand global settings right click message delivery and then click properties click the default tab to configure the  global settings
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