Where on the server are exchange mailbox files kept?

By foruseonforums ·
Our server here is seriously short of space. It got down to 2MB left earlier!!!

I have managed to get back 200MB of space by deleting some stuff, but I had this amount of space just a few days ago. SO the space taken up on the server is increasing all the time.

A thought occurred to me that maybe all the space is being taken up by exchange mailbox stores on the server. Despite my efforts to get them to delete large emails with attachments after they have read them, my bosses continue to have massive mailboxes and keep asking me to increase their mailbox allocation.

I'm a complete newb to Exchange server, so have no idea where mailbox files are kept, and if I found them, no idea how to move them to a different hard disk without affecting everyone (we have a second hard disk in the server that has oodles of space).

Can anybody help or clarify where these files are stored?

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All Answers

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More Info

by AruJammer In reply to Where on the server are e ...

Please provide Exchange Server verion.

Use a software like TreeSizeFree to scan you HDD and see which folders are taking more space

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Server is Exchange 2003 SP2

by foruseonforums In reply to More Info

I have managed to clear up 2.5GB by moving Blackberry logs off the C drive to the D drive.

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Move Infostore

by Churdoo In reply to Where on the server are e ...

Assuming Exchange 2000/2003, to answer your initial question, if your exchange infostore databases are on the C: drive, then the default location is %programfiles%\exchsrvr\mdbdata. If you have another local disk that can house the database files, then you should move them.

In Exchange 2000/2003, you move the infostore by going to Exchange System Manager / your administrative group / servers / your server name / First Storage Group / Mailbox Store / Properties / Database tab / and Browse the 'Exchange database' and the 'Exchange streaming database' to the new desired location / OK / OK. Exchange will dismount the store and move the database files to the location that you specify. Do the same for the Public folder store, i.e. might as well keep them together.

NOTE: The operation of moving the databases will take the infostore down, i.e. will interrupt all users connected via Outlook so plan this operation for a maintenance window. And depending on the size of your infostore and logfiles, this could take awhile.

Since you admit you're an exchange newb, I'll tell you that is a great resource for Exchange information, or of course post back here.

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Thank you

by foruseonforums In reply to Move Infostore

Thank you, that's very helpful.

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Here's an option for a temporary fix ......

by ThumbsUp2 In reply to Where on the server are e ...

You can limit the size of the mailboxes on the Exchange server and force the users to move email to their local PST files instead of keeping everything on the Exchange server. This includes the Sent Items too.

If your people always sit at the same computer (no roving profiles), never travel (so they don't need outside access to emails) and you install the PST backup add-on (installed on each client), you can temporarily solve your storage problems.

Of course, you're eventually going to need to solve that low space problem. But, this can get you by for a while until you figure out what you're going to do for more space.


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by Churdoo In reply to Here's an option for a te ...

and with all due respect, this will not help. Well it won't help for the short term, but may be a long term solution if it fits with your way of business as TU2 stated.

The exchange public and private stores are databases, and like many other databases, the database files will GROW themselves dynamically, but they will NOT shrink themselves dynamically.

One can delete every email and/or you can copy everything to .pst files, but if you look at the priv1 database files, you'll see that this will not make the file sizes of the priv1.* database files any smaller.

To shrink the file sizes after some massive delete or migration, you'll have to run ESEUTIL /D, another offline process, but this will require that you have sufficient capacity on the volume to create a second copy of the priv1.* database files as the defrag progresses, or move the files temporarily to a volume where there's sufficient capacity for 2 copies of the subject files where you can run the ESEUTIL /D command.

Your best bet for a short term fix is to find some files you can delete or move off of the volume (Have you moved your Windows swap/page file to a different volume?, this will require a reboot). Ccleaner, free download from has a great tool for deleting unnecessary files and will not require a reboot.

Next, at some appropriate maintenance window or non-production hours, and you can do this as soon as tonight, back up your exchange database and relocate the database files to another volume using the Exchange System Manager.

Speaking of backups, is the %programfiles%/exchsrvr/mdbdata directory filled with E00*.log files? If so, you don't have an exchange-aware backup process happening and this too can explain why the volume is filling. You can TEMPORARILY and with caution, move the oldest of said log files to another volume. I say "with caution" because if you don't have a current exchange backup and you need to restore your exchange database, these log files may be needed to restore your exchange database. Now are you completely confused?

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To add to the confusion

by Dumphrey In reply to Clarification

its not just the .priv file ou have to watch but the .stm file as well. This is the "streaming" file exchange uses for pretty much any non-outlook mail cliet and OWA. It grows pretty big too. The .stm file and .priv1 file sizes added together determin the size of your database.

The exchange databse has a fixed size, and will not grow beyond this, it will disable send/receive function untill action is taken to reduce the size. Chances are your disk space problems have another origin if its sudden drastic growth.

Another good option is to set up an exchange policy to delete all mail in the deleted folders (older then say 30 days) 1 time a week. Many users never empty their deleted items, which stay in the database until "flushed" by emptying the deleted items folder.

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Deleted items

by foruseonforums In reply to To add to the confusion

I get all users to "purge" the deleted items on a regular basis from the "Recover Deleted Items" option.

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Check your Exchange logging

by CG IT In reply to Deleted items

if your hard disk suddenly and dramatically loses space, and Exchange is the culprit, you could be logging exchange actions that do not need to be logged on a regular basis. I've run across this problem where a tech will turn on logging in exchange to find out status or health and forget to turn the logging off. This will result in log files that suddenly chew up GB's of space. Deleting the files will free up space but you'll lose it again as exchange will continue to log until you turn it off.

Just a suggestion.

Exchange shouldn't, over time, use up all HDD space for storage as, Churdoo and others have mentioned, there is a set limit. Once reached, Exchange won't allow send/receive until you free up space. This is why users need to save outlook stuff to PST files and clean their mailboxes. Again, look to logging if your losing lots of space in a short amount of time.

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Even more info

by Monice In reply to Where on the server are e ...

In all the good info previously posted to your question you should also ensure that your Exchange backups are successfull. If they are not then your Exchange logs will certianly take up alot of space. These logs are automatically deleted after a successful Exchange backup. If no backups have been successful in a while then the logs multiply very fast.

If further assistance is needed please post again.

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