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Mailbox store organization

I inherited an Exchange 2003 Enterprise server that was configured with a single Information Store and a single Mailbox Store which is currently at 200 GB and growing. Included in this Information Store is a Public Folder store as well. These all reside on a 400 GB partition which has 120 GB of available space.

Clearly I need to reorganize the Mailbox Store. My plan is to create three more storage groups (I already have a Recovery Storage Group) and create several smaller Mailbox Stores. My question is: What will be the best approach for breaking this down? I had originally planned to begin moving the mailboxes into the new stores in batches rather than a single, one-day reorganization, but, I don't think I'll be able to reclaim all of my disk space until I do an off-line defragmentation of the database. I'd appreciate any advice or articles available to help me with this project.

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Start by determining what size of mailbox stores are you comfortable with -- think about the time it takes to backup and restore a store of any size, how much down time you can live with, and whether it is possible to add more storage to your server.

Have you implemented mailbox quotas? If not, perhaps it's a good time to start thinking about these as well. Depending upon your requirements and policies, it helps to cut down store sizes.

If you can add more storage, it becomes dramatically easier -- simply create new stores on newer volumes and move mailboxes, then do an offline defragmentation of the large store if required.

If you can't add additional storage, you will need move mailboxes in batches to the new stores you create, and do the offline defragmentation after you've moved a number of mailboxes.

Also note, locating additional Storage Groups on the same spindles (drives) doesn't buy you anything at all in terms of performance.

This was first published in July 2006

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