Storage

Storage Savings through PST Compaction

PSTCompactor automatically compacts PST's, clears out specific folders, and zips all attachments. It offers with a goodly set of management tools, is highly configurable, totally automatic, and best of all, comes at a wonderfully low price point per processing server.

People love their email. Most are so attached to it that they can't bear to part with it. While this is not a big deal on their home pc's, in a corporate environment this attachment can quickly become a huge issue. While most email systems allow you a great leeway in management of mailbox sizes, they don't manage users who pull their mail out of the system and save it locally or on a network share. Microsoft Outlook makes this easier with the ease of creating PST files for mail backups, mounting them in your mailbox, and dragging and dropping mail into them to get rid of those annoying "Over Mailbox Size Limit" emails.

The Job

When analyzing our storage on our network user home drive. We found that over 25% of our total storage was dedicated to PST files. We realized that unless something was done our entire user volume would quickly be overrun by PST's. As this was high performance SAN attached storage there is also a premium placed on this storage. We quickly began looking at efforts to work with our users to help them letter better mail management practices. Unfortunately we were met with an unwilling user base, and lack of (non-IT) management support to back it up. We then turned our attention to looking at third party tools. While many of them were full of features they were also full of price. Not only that many of them were much more intensive than what we needed. After much searching we finally found PSTCompactor from Xemplify IT.

The Tool

PSTCompactor was originally overlooked due to the cost and feature set of its enterprise edition. Upon a second inspection though we saw that they also offered a Professional version that was scaled down for the enterprise edition, but still featured all of the tools we were looking for. This product would automatically compact PST's, clear out specific folders, and most importantly zip all attachments. This is along with a goodly set of management tools, being highly configurable, totally automatic, and a wonderfully low price point of $299 per processing server. The great thing about this is that one server can scan multiple UNC locations. It also boasted an average savings of 38% of total PST size. View pictures of PST Compactor here.

Putting PSTComapctor to the Test

We installed PSTCompactor onto our test server. WE then created a configuration file to scan a certain directory on the I.T. group drive. We then placed backup copies of several PST's into this directory. We set what we decided would most likely be our default options, then let 'er rip. The run time was greater than expected, but the results were right in line with what was expected. We had a 35% reduction in the size of our test PST's. After confirming that there were no issues with the PST's, we decided to schedule a roll it into production the following weekend. Our initial run took much longer than expected. Scanning our full group and user drives took slightly over 20 hours. We also encountered one slight issue with certain directories reporting errors. This was due to these folders being named exclusively with Chinese characters which would be translated as illegal folder names. After reporting this issue to Xemplify's support and sending them some log files, they quickly turned around a patch for the software to correct this. I was greatly impressed with their professionalism and quick response.

Right tool for the job?

The entire I.T. staff eagerly awaited the report on Monday morning of the first running of PSTCompactor. I quickly exported the report to PDF, and printed out several copies. Our initial running of PSTCompactor had resulted in a reduction of more than 48% of our total PST size. Our SAN Administrator wept openly. The initial euphoria was quickly tempered as we awaited a potential onslaught of user issues. The hours crept by and none were noted.PSTComapctor has proved to be an invaluable addition to our repertoire of I.T. tools. While we have not seen the continued mass growth reduction we saw over the first one, we continually see reductions (mostly due to new mail and PST's). Also, we have noted that the growth rate of storage on our user home drive has been reduced dramatically. The amount of storage initially saved was valued at 4 times as much as the cost of PSTCompactor itself. This has been a great tool for us, that has saved I.T. a lot of headaches and our users many hours of forced mail management.

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