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Limited disk space, Exchange and VPS issues. What can I do?

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  • Limited disk space, Exchange and VPS issues. What can I do?

    Hello everyone,

    I provide general support to a medium-sized company who operates an Exchange server running SBS 2003, The server has 4 73gb SCSI drives configured in a RAID 5 array. All service packs and security patches are up to date.

    I'm by not means a windows server expert, but with the help of someone who knew more than I did, I helped them set up their exchange server about 4 years ago. Since then, I've become pretty familiar with general administration of SBS2003, and can handle most general tasks fairly easily and with confidence.

    Not sure how this happened, but the server was set up with a too-small 12gb system partition, and a separate 192gb partition that's used primarily for storage of files and exchange mailboxes. The server has performed quite reliably since it was installed.

    Currently, the system partition has under 1.5gb remaining on it, and we're starting to experience unusual problems, like long delays when opening "my computer" on the server (or trying to access disks from the server), Outlook RPC errors, random freezes that require a hard reset, etc. Just this past week, I've been receiving complaints that remote users are having lots of RPC errors when they attempt to use the VPN and access Exchange.

    I ran the Outlook Troubleshooter and it came up with some errors - primarily low disk space issues and one that said "unusually high user activity detected", "RPC Operations per second rates indicate a user or users on this server are unusually active."

    I'm not really sure what to do here, but am realizing that the disk space issue is a huge problem. I would prefer to not rebuild the whole server, because I would need to engage an expert who can help me set up the network and domain settings, which I won't be able to do. Not to mention that I don't know how to export account and security settings so that I won't have to re-enter it all later. there are a lot of things I'm not skilled in yet, so the easier the better, but if need be, maybe it's time to bring in an expert so there are no problems.

    Can anyone recommend a good plan of action for a less experienced guy? Can I purchase larger drives, then just do an disk image copy onto the new disks? What's the best way to handle this?

    Thanks in advance for any help - I appreciate it.

    D

  • #2
    Re: Limited disk space, Exchange and VPS issues. What can I do?

    When you say 4 - 73 GB drives in a raid 5.. is that 3+1Hot Spare or 4 with no Hot Spare. ...

    Depending on how much you have remaining on your data partition, you could always repartition the drive to take from the data and give to the system drive. I know its robbing peter to pay paul, but that would give you "more time"

    How many users are you talking about too? Even after fixing the disk space issue, you will probably have performance issues depending on the user count/mailbox size, especially when your running all off 1 raid 5 set, you have mailbox, pagefile, os, logs everything on the same disk contending for the same disk IO.. that will slow down a lot... especially with Exchange.

    If you havent already done so, ensure hard limits are enforced for mailbox size, then make sure users arent running indexing applications in outlook. That can cause high activity on the server. Make sure everyone is running in Exchange Cached Mode, that way most of the access is on the local workstation instead of the server. Also ensure Full text indexing isnt running during the day either.

    Also, you never mentioned how much ram you have in your machine... if your 32bit and you DONT have 4GB of ram, I would start there if you havent already done so.
    There are a lot of things you can do to fix performance, but if the server is that old and (assuming old because it has been like 6-7 years since computers were coming from the manufacturer with 12GB partitions) then it might be time to start looking at upgrading. Doing these things might give you a little more time, but I would probably use the "extra time" to start planning for a new server
    Daniel Frei
    -Windows Operations Server Administrator
    -Exchange Guru
    -Cisco Fanatic
    -SharePoint Hippie
    -Volkswagen Enthusiast

    www.lazynetworkadmin.com

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Limited disk space, Exchange and VPS issues. What can I do?

      Thanks for the reply.

      Regarding the RAID array, I can't be sure what the layout is, but in the past years, one drive has failed on 2 different occasions, and each time, Dell sent a new one that was just hot swapped in and rebuilt on the fly - does that answer the question?

      The Server is a Dell PowerEdge 1800, delivered in march 2006, so it's under four years old. It has 4gb of RAM and a Xeon 3.0GHz processor.

      There are about 25 - 30 users with mailboxes.

      I enforce pretty strict limits on mailbox size (450mb) for most users, but the boss has a box over 2.3gb large, and I plead with him to purge old messages, but he's slow in complying.

      I will verify that all users are on cached mode.

      Some questions:

      1. how do i ensure that full text indexing is disabled?
      2. how hard is it to repartition the system drive so that it takes some storage from the data drive? The data drive has nearly 70gb free, so it would be fine.

      Thanks again for the help - it's nice to have this resource with knowledgeable guys like you to help out.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Limited disk space, Exchange and VPS issues. What can I do?

        I use Acronis Disk Director Server and it has worked great for me. At my current job, I inherited a lot of servers with 12gb OS partitions and have done this several times without a problem. Real straight forward too.

        With 450mb mailboxes and only 25 to 30 of them.. you should be fine. If your not running cached mode then I would still strongly look at that..
        As far as full text indexing, I dont have my 2003 Exchange server to verify anymore but if I remember correctly, you right click on the mail store and there are the options there. Again.. dont have it infront of me anymore as I just upgraded to 2010, but it should be right around there.

        As far as the Raid Array.. if your total space is between OS and data.. is 219GB, then its a 4 disk raid 5.. if it is 146GB, then it is a 3 disk raid 5 with a hot spare.
        Daniel Frei
        -Windows Operations Server Administrator
        -Exchange Guru
        -Cisco Fanatic
        -SharePoint Hippie
        -Volkswagen Enthusiast

        www.lazynetworkadmin.com

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Limited disk space, Exchange and VPS issues. What can I do?

          there's a boot disk called hiren's bootdisk that has a whole raft of tools on it, including the server-grade partition resizing tools..


          search for hiren's boot disk..

          (we're about to do something similar for a client, except we're gona use a gparted liveCD..)
          Please do show your appreciation to those who assist you by leaving Rep Point https://www.petri.com/forums/core/im.../icon_beer.gif

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          • #6
            Re: Limited disk space, Exchange and VPS issues. What can I do?

            Just a reminder that Hirens boot CD (wonderful product ) is on the shadier side of the internet, so you should own legal copies of the tools you use
            Tom Jones
            MCT, MCSE (2000:Security & 2003), MCSA:Security & Messaging, MCDBA, MCDST, MCITP(EA, EMA, SA, EDA, ES, CS), MCTS, MCP, Sec+
            PhD, MSc, FIAP, MIITT
            IT Trainer / Consultant
            Ossian Ltd
            Scotland

            ** Remember to give credit where credit is due and leave reputation points where appropriate **

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Limited disk space, Exchange and VPS issues. What can I do?

              Whilst all of the above is good advice and I would indeed follow it if there is no choice, I would check out the white paper on the SBS 2003 website about moving data off the C: drive; log files, Exchange databases, sharepoint files etc. If any of those and more are relevant, you could survive on 12Gb system partition for a good while longer. Also check out a tool like treesize for determining who/what is using your diskspace (or even FSRM if this is SBS 2003R2!)
              TIA

              Steven Teiger [SBS-MVP(2003-2009)]
              http://www.wintra.co.il/
              sigpic
              Iím honoured to have been selected for the SMB 150 list for 2013. This is the third time in succession (no logo available for 2011) that I have been honoured with this award.

              We donít stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Limited disk space, Exchange and VPS issues. What can I do?

                Thanks everyone for the great advice.

                I've already moved the exchange data off the system drive, and have survived pretty well with the small system partition. I use an online backup system which creates large temp files on the system partition when it runs. At the moment, with everything normal, I'm down to 1.3gb free space - not enough to make me comfortable.

                I'll try your suggestions and resize the partition. Any major pitfalls I should be aware of? i'm pretty technical, so it should be fine, just don't want to screw anything up really badly.

                What i really need is a sbs2003/exchange expert here in Phoenix who i can trust to log in and take care of this maintenance stuff for me. That way, I can stick to what i'm good at and not put the server at risk

                Again, thanks for the help.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Limited disk space, Exchange and VPS issues. What can I do?

                  If you are in Phoenix, AZ, I suggest you look up Michael Cocanower of ITSynergy as someone who I REALLY trust to help with what you are asking.
                  TIA

                  Steven Teiger [SBS-MVP(2003-2009)]
                  http://www.wintra.co.il/
                  sigpic
                  Iím honoured to have been selected for the SMB 150 list for 2013. This is the third time in succession (no logo available for 2011) that I have been honoured with this award.

                  We donít stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Limited disk space, Exchange and VPS issues. What can I do?

                    thanks for the referral, and for all the help.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Limited disk space, Exchange and VPS issues. What can I do?

                      I was in a simular situation and found that backup exec, and Trend Micro for SMB were eating away at my C: drive.

                      Moving the Backup exec log files was an easy move to gain a bunch of space back.

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