Here we outline 7 tips for managing Exchange Disk Space

Chay Douglas Enterprise Vault, Managed IT Support Services, Microsoft Exchange

Exchange data can grow unruly very quickly if you don’t know what to look out for. We have created this post in order to stop you smashing the absolute sh!t out of your messaging environment. Feel free to still do so anyway. It’s very liberating.

Managing Exchange Disk Space

Anyway onto the post…

Here we outline 7 tips for managing Exchange Disk Space.

1. Utilise Microsoft’s Exchange Best Practices Analyzer

If you aren’t running Microsoft Exchange Server Best Practices Analyzer (ExBPA), then get to it! Look it up and get it configured in your environment!

Firstly, it’s a nice place to start. It gives an overview of the health and configuration of the Exchange Servers within your site. By running this, you can ensure that Exchange is configured correctly and is working as efficiently as it can. It gathers information from the Exchange Server’s Registry, Performance Monitor and Metabase as well as Active Directory, amongst other things. It then advises which changes can be made to ensure best practices are met.

ExBPA should always be run upon provisioning any Exchange Server and it would be advised to then run it at least quarterly, due the ever changing Best Practices according to Microsoft-talk about moving the goalposts!

2. Configure Appropriate Backup Procedures

An oldie, but a goodie. Ensuring healthy backups are not only essential for disaster recovery but for keeping on top of the maintenance of Exchange.

Due to the transaction logs continuously filling up, they are only purged after a backup has been taken. Therefore, these logs have the potential to grow into monsters and quickly fill up your provisioned Exchange Disk Space. As such, the backup program is required to have an Exchange-specific feature or be “Exchange-Aware” in order to integrate accordingly.

3. Configure Mailbox Quotas

Mailbox Quotas are essential for managing Exchange Disk Space. Quotas can be used to force mailboxes not to grow past a specified size. While this is obvious advice, I think we’ve all been guilty of removing a quota ad hoc on a mailbox to allow a troublesome user to continue a task etc. and then not getting round to re-enabling it.

Later you come back to review why Exchange Disk Space has shrunk, only to find that a number of mailboxes have grown twice the size of its limit.

If possible, try and make it a weekly or monthly requirement to ensure all mailbox quotas are set.

4. Configure Maintenance Procedures

By creating maintenance plans for Exchange, you can ensure that mailboxes are trimmed appropriately. By purging indexes, deleting expired items and cleaning up deleted mailboxes you can reclaim that space used by ‘dead’ data.

On top of this, an online maintenance can be carried out in order to defrag mailbox stores and should really be carried out nightly.

5. Check for Any Stuck or Looping Items

From personal experience, we can tell you that items may get stuck between the relay server and the Exchange Server and it causes no end of problems. From filling up mailboxes and making them reach their quota to blocking archiving systems when archiving the journal mailbox and not to mention, extortionately eating up disk space.

6. Archive Older Items and Journal Mailboxes to Cheaper Storage

By employing a third-party Archiving System, you can help maintain the size of mailboxes by ensuring that quotas are met whilst not forcing the users to lose any information.

Also, if you are a company that has a requirement for Journaling, there is no realistic way that this can be allowed to grow exponentially. Archiving this data provides a perfect solution for freeing up the expensive, critical Exchange Disk Space whilst keeping your data searchable and legally compliant.

7. Optimise Storage Requirements

As ever, the best way to manage anything is to be proactive; this is also true of Managing Exchange Disk Space. By really getting to understand what your data is doing and keeping tabs on data growth at disk level, you can extract the optimum storage requirements.

Further Reading