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How to deal with employees using Outlook 24/7

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  • How to deal with employees using Outlook 24/7

    Exchange 2003
    Outlook 2003 (cached mode)
    HDD: 5x72GB SCSI RAID-5
    RAM: 1GB

    I am having problems with with employees not archiving emails, inboxes are getting close to 2GB, archived folders vary between 4GB-8GB.
    Some of the employees can receive close to 2GB worth of emails in about 3 month, our .edb file has grown to 54GB and needs off-line defrag.

    Several users reported that email is getting slower, I checked the server and HDD utilization varies between 70%-100% it's working over time. I was never able to bring the server down to do the defrag, because there is always somebody important using email over the weekend or at night.

    How to deal with such environment, what are the best practices? Will the second exchange server help a bit? Is it possible to speed up Outlook with 1.8GB inbox and 9GB in archived folders?

    I Appreciate any suggestions.

    PS. I am getting 4GB RAM for the server...

  • #2
    Re: How to deal with employees using Outlook 24/7

    Are these archive folders .pst files? If so, I think they can be no larger than 2 GB?

    Anyway, mailbox restriction sounds right up your alley. Mailboxes that get that size traditionally do not perform well.

    What kind of messages are these people receiving? Sounds like large image based emails?

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: How to deal with employees using Outlook 24/7

      Yes these are pst files, and the larges one is approaching 10GB. Most of the attachments are large pdf files, just came across a 37MB attachment. Exchange is setup for 20MB limit from the outside, and 40MB limit for the inside mail.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: How to deal with employees using Outlook 24/7

        Agreed, mailbox limits combined with end user education.

        louisvillecat: possibly image based, or just a lot of documents going back and forth, or just a ton of emails period! I know of a couple people in my company that go through 1 GB of mail a month, and it's largely just basic text! Damn blackberry users


        Where I work we've always had mailbox limits, but there were some exceptions. one month (yes ALL MONTH) I did nothing but call end users and set up archives for them. Needless to say I can archive in my sleep now.

        Quick Tip: I place their archives in a folder named "E-Mail Archive" within their My Documents folder, and name the actual archive "<AD login name>_Archive.pst", e.g. AUser_Archive.pst. The reasoning behind this is if you ever go to an Email archiving and storage management system, and you scan the network, you'll always know who's archive is whose.

        For those end users with insanely big archives, I usually run a manual archive for each year. With some, I run one for every quarter or 2, and name them appropriately of course. They may have 10 archives (or more!!!) but they don't complain about the archives being slow (due to large file sizes).

        Now when they have a ton of emails that they need to search through, we install Lookout, a search mod for Outlook (we use 2003). It indexes Outlook mailboxes, archives, and My Docs folders (all configurable), and lets them search from a small search toolbar. GREAT tool, saves so much time. NOTE: AFAIK, if you have users running Outlook in a Citrix environment, you don't want to install it on the server, as it may let end users search all mailboxes, haven't tested this though.
        ** Remember to give credit where credit is due and leave reputation points where appropriate **

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: How to deal with employees using Outlook 24/7

          I to use the naming convention for the archive files. Works very well.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: How to deal with employees using Outlook 24/7

            Number of issues here.

            1. Why do you think that you need an offline defrag? Offline defrag should not be considered regular maintenance. Most servers do not need an offline defrag - I don't do them personally unless I am going to gain at least 50% of space AND not use it again, if I am directed to by Microsoft Support, or I hit the limits in standard editions of Exchange.

            2. Using archive PST files is not always a good idea. They have so many problems - easily corruptible, cannot be stored on network drives so backup is difficult and 100mb of email in Exchange can use up to 300mb of space in a PST file, so they are very inefficient.

            Large mailboxes is not really a problem, it is number of items in individual folders that can cause problems.

            Throwing RAM at Exchange will not help either. Exchange is heavily reliant on storage. Your array configuration can make or break the performance of an Exchange server. A store size of 54mb is peanuts, I have run stores much bigger with mailboxes of 5gb or more without any issues.

            If you want to keep the sizes down you need to manage that. Forcing users to delete email or use PST files will not always be an option. If they use PST files and something happens then you (IT) will be blamed, despite their obvious flaws.

            You need to look at an archiving solution - there are a number of them available which will store the email for you. Something SQL backed is probably your best option, on a separate server.

            Ultimately the business needs to decide what is done with email, not IT.

            Simon.
            --
            Simon Butler
            Exchange MVP

            Blog: http://blog.sembee.co.uk/
            More Exchange Content: http://exchange.sembee.info/
            Exchange Resources List: http://exbpa.com/
            In the UK? Hire me: http://www.sembee.co.uk/

            Sembee is a registered trademark, used here with permission.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: How to deal with employees using Outlook 24/7

              Exchange has been setup about 2 years ago, and off-line defrag was never done. During the 2-year period multiple mailboxes have been created and added.
              I installed Lookout on few machines, and the tool is just incredible. It indexes emails, and query can be as follow "from Daniel about Petri attachment:yes importance:high"

              I must admit the naming convention is so simple to implement, and yet so powerful, I asked myself why I didn't do it earlier. After archiving emails for several people it helped the server, the performance graphs shows HDD reaching 100% less frequently. The only thing I can improve is to add 6-th 72GB SCSI to RAID-5 configuration, but it may not improve the performance a whole lot.

              As of today Exchange holds roughly about 200,000 emails and had about 300,000 emails few days ago. Every PST file resides on local hard drives, and to save them I just created a simple script which runs on the server 5 days a week at 8pm. It simply copies PST files from users onto the server. Robocopy would be a better solution, but for now the script is:

              ---
              copy \\PC1\PATH...\uname_archive.pst f:\user_folder\uname_archive.pst /y/v
              /y - will suppress the prompt
              /v - will verify the file
              ---

              A nightly backup will make sure PST's are recoverable, I agree that the management should decide what to do with emails, and I should find a way to implement/enforce it. SQL based exchange archive is a very very good idea, simple google query returned several products. I will look more into it, and hopefully will get the money to purchase it.

              Thank you for your suggestions, it's almost time to go home (at least for me).

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: How to deal with employees using Outlook 24/7

                Glad to hear my tips are helping out! I forgot to mention that the My Docs archive thing is what we do on laptops. On desktops, each user has a users folder on one of the shared storage server drives, and in there is a folder for each user that only that user has access to. They have their archives saved there. If they're on Citrix, then their Citrix profile folder (including my docs) is in that folder as well, so they have their archives either in the user folder, or in the my docs folder, depending on who did the archive


                Originally posted by nemo2010 View Post
                As of today Exchange holds roughly about 200,000 emails and had about 300,000 emails few days ago. Every PST file resides on local hard drives, and to save them I just created a simple script which runs on the server 5 days a week at 8pm. It simply copies PST files from users onto the server. Robocopy would be a better solution, but for now the script is:

                ---
                copy \\PC1\PATH...\uname_archive.pst f:\user_folder\uname_archive.pst /y/v
                /y - will suppress the prompt
                /v - will verify the file
                ---

                A nightly backup will make sure PST's are recoverable, I agree that the management should decide what to do with emails, and I should find a way to implement/enforce it. SQL based exchange archive is a very very good idea, simple google query returned several products. I will look more into it, and hopefully will get the money to purchase it.
                As long as you occasionally test the backups, you're good to go As for SQL based exchange archives, search the forum, I believe it's been brought up before.


                Originally posted by Sembee
                2. Using archive PST files is not always a good idea. They have so many problems - easily corruptible, cannot be stored on network drives so backup is difficult and 100mb of email in Exchange can use up to 300mb of space in a PST file, so they are very inefficient.
                As I mentioned above, we have archves on network drives, and the only problem we have is on the rare occasion when the drives don't get mapped on boot for whatever reason. Reboot solves that one


                Originally posted by Sembee
                Large mailboxes is not really a problem, it is number of items in individual folders that can cause problems.
                What types of problems can a large number of folders within a mailbox cause? I can think of a couple of end users in my company that have a couple hundred folders in their mailbox
                ** Remember to give credit where credit is due and leave reputation points where appropriate **

                Comment

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