Your sales guy called eight times today from a hotel room in Toledo complaining about response time. Your users feel compelled to keep every piece of mail received since 1996. The CEO’s mail database is about to explode from fragmentation.

If your Notes server must support such scenarios, then you can benefit from a few tips on teaching users how to optimize Lotus Notes. Besides, you have enough to do already without being your company’s computer help desk. Here are three easy tips that have worked wonders for my sanity.

Create a new location document
The first tip involves creating a new location document that only works in local mode. It assumes a local copy of the user’s mail database already exists but isn’t used. Unfortunately, many users in the office like being connected to the network so they can check their messages instantly. However, users with local databases are using their PC’s system resources, so bandwidth isn’t an issue. By creating a new location document, you can control how your users connect without being heavy-handed.

To begin, have the user click on File, Mobile, and Locations to open a listing of all location documents, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Next, guide the user through these steps:

  • Right-click the Office location document and use the Copy and Paste commands to create a working copy.
  • Highlight the newly created document and click the Edit Location button. In the Location Name box, change the document name to Local. In the Mail section, select Local for the Mail file location. (You’ll also need to make sure replication is set to occur every hour so users still receive mail.)
  • Save the document and click on File, Mobile, and Choose Current Location to select the new location.

Now as long as your sales guy in Toledo replicates regularly, he won’t have to wait 20 minutes to review his mail due to bandwidth constraints.

Create an Archive database
The second tip involves creating an Archive database. Archiving keeps users from having to delete important older documents due to space limitations on the Notes server. The documents are stored on the user’s drive in a Notes NSF file.

To create an Archive database, have users or your support staff open the Mail Database and click on Archiving in the Mail Template, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Next, they should click the Setup Archive button and then click Specify Archive Location to place the database on an appropriate hard drive. They can also select other options related to the timing of when the archive process should run. I generally accept the default settings once I select a drive. You can, however, choose to have the process triggered on a schedule. I prefer to archive selectively, as not all documents I keep are worthy of saving long term, but some users may opt to set an archiving schedule.

Once the Archive database is set up, users can select documents to archive. To complete the process, they just need to click Actions on the menu bar and then choose Mail Tools and Archive Selected Documents. Doing so moves the documents off the server and places them in their new home. An Archive database icon is created on the user’s machine that when opened, mirrors the user’s original mail database.
Lotus Notes versions older than 4.6 will archive only to the All Documents folder. If your users have file folders for their documents, they will have to sift through the All Documents folder in the Archive database to find their documents.
Fix fragmentation issues
My last tip will help you fix Notes database fragmentation issues without having to explain what fragmentation means to your users. In Lotus Notes, local databases will become fragmented over time. To conserve space and improve performance, they need to be compacted. The process takes a few minutes, depending on the size of the database. However, it operates in the background.

Have the user right-click the local mail database, select Database Properties from the pop-up menu, and click on the second tab. The current size of the database is displayed in megabytes. To determine whether compacting will help, have the user click on the percent button. If the percentage number calculated is low (below 60 percent), the database should be compacted. Thus, if the user has a 30-MB database and 50 percent is fragmented, compacting will cut the size of the database to 15 MB. Have the user click on the Compact button and make sure he or she realizes the database can’t be used until after the compacting is completed.

I hope your network benefits from these tips. They are easy to understand, even for the non-technical users of your network services. In addition, the tips provide a significant payoff in performance. Your support desk will thank you, too, as the more your users know about optimizing their Notes environment, the less they’ll call.

After obtaining an MBA, Jim Wells made the jump into the IT world. Jim has first-hand experience with the frustrations, joys, disappointments, and successes that come from implementing and administering a large WAN, which he’s done for several years.

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