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Can an exchange 2003 mail store be compacted while still online?

By Bizquik ·
Recently I was challenged to recover an exchange store that ran out of disk space. The reason it ran out of space was due to the retention policy was set for 2 year retention. This of course was reduced however the mail store still shows the same disk usage on backups even after purging the store of old messages. Microsoft recommends taking the store offline and running the ES recovery to reset the mail store size however the email system operated requires 24/7 access due to its use in the medical field. My search for a utility has been nerve racking and any advice would be appreciated.

OS: Windows server 2003 emterprise R2
email: MS Exchange 2003

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have to unmount the information store

by CG IT In reply to Can an exchange 2003 mail ...

there's no workaround. If you don't unmount the information store, you will get database errors.

Note: I don't see why you can do this in off hours when mail processing is low. outbound emails will sit in the queue until they can be sent out up to 12 hours and inbound depending on what those mail servers config is also 12 hours. senders will get a delay notice but will retry.

Running out of disc space sounds more like a transaction log problem than the information store database. If users keep mail forever, have them save to pst files. You can increase the size from 16 GM to 72 with the Exchange patch. If you use RAID, stick a new disc into the array and allocate the space.

You can always use circular logging for transaction logs but! the drawback is once the tranaction log gets overridden it's gone for good. To play the transaction logs during backup, you need an Exchange away backup utility.

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Thanks for the response

by Bizquik In reply to have to unmount the infor ...

I figured as much on the workaround. I was mearly trying to avoid creating more doubt in IT services for our administrative group. Things have been touchy since the initial crash and then having to tell them that they need to change the way they hang on to messages.... We have addded disk space and we were able to get a few users on board with saving the messages to pst files but my backup still suffered from the blank space in the message store still getting backed up. With the holidays nearing I will try to convince administration that the down time is necessary and we can plan for it but they will fight to have the email services never offline as I pointed out in the original post since this is for a medical company. (Cardiovascular clinic to be exact)

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don't get it.. if you tell them there is a built in safety

by CG IT In reply to Thanks for the response

mechanism which is what the queues and outbox are for, downtime doesn't mean anything... besides at 2am your time how much email can there be? if there's a lot who the **** is making all of it at 2am?

resize the logical disk that the information store sits on. Did you stick in that patch to increase the database size from 16 to 72 GB? http://support.microsoft.com/kb/912375/

If people absolutely have to have mail from 5 years ago there's something wrong...

If your transaction logs are chewing up space, backup. That gets rid of the transaction logs. Worse comes to worse you can do circular logging but once the transaction log is overridden that's it the mail is gone for good.

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I agree

by Bizquik In reply to don't get it.. if you te ...

There is a point where you just have to let things go but with health care being what it is and lawsuits scaring the **** out of everyone, there is a complete CYA attitude about conversations that are either electronic or on paper. The database was upped to 275GB and the messages stored are well beyond your 5 year mark. (some are dated 1994) If this were a mom and pop shop then I would have had no problem scratching the old data and starting fresh. I process over 68K messages through my email filter or 2833 messages an hour. (when spread over a 24 hour day) Yes there are people who work well before and after 2AM and no the email flow does not have a "down time". I wish I lived in your bubble but the reality is that the email system I operate is responsible for human lives not just exchanging E-cards during working hours.

HIPPA compliance is not an "option" for this company it is mandated by the government. (50K per offence, per physician)

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humm sounds like you run a single instance of Exchange

by CG IT In reply to I agree

and if you have all these requirements to adhere to, a single instance isn't going to cut it. Large businesses don't have problems doing maintenance on servers that provide email services without interruption of said service, so maybe a single instance of Exchange doesn't fit the business model anymore.

You can archive email. You can have multiple information stores. These are a few of the options you might look into to solve the Information Store size problems your running into.

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