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Will growing .mdb files affect our Exchange Server 2003 mailboxes?

SearchExchange.com expert Bharat Suneja offers advice on how to monitor .mdb file sizes and explains their effect on Exchange Server 2003 performance.

The .mdb data folder/file of my Exchange 2003 server is about 600 MB now. As the usage is increasing, the file size is increasing. I have restricted all users with a maximum mailbox size of 20 MB. They keep deleting their email, but the .mdb file size keeps increasing. Will this continue to happen? How much space will it take up before it affects the Exchange Server 2003 mailboxes?

Ideally, I'd like to ensure that my mailboxes (and Exchange Server message store) are safely and quickly loaded at startup? How can I get the size to decrease? I have a p4HT-based Intel Server with 300 GB hard disk and 2 GB RAM. I have approximately 80 users, out of which 50 keep their email on the Exchange server.

Nothing alarming here for 50-80 users. If all of them maxed at 20 MB, you would still have an Exchange Server message store larger than 1 GB, not accounting for deleted item retention. It's not clear if you are seeing any performance issues yet.

It seems you do have plenty of disk space. You have implemented mailbox quotas. Event ID 1221 will tell you if you have any empty space in the store — this will be used first.

With the hardware configuration you described, it appears you are using a single, 300 GB, IDE or SATA drive. If that is the case, I highly recommend at least hardware RAID1 (mirroring) and separating the store (.EDB, .STM), the Exchange Server transaction logs, and the operating system to different volumes.

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Related information from SearchExchange.com:

  • Tip: Using multiple mailbox stores effectively
  • Tip: When Exchange mailbox size quotas break
  • Expert Advice: Determining the best mailbox quota size for your users
  • Expert Advice: Viewing mailbox size and setting mailbox notifications/quotas in Exchange
  • 15 tips in 15 minutes: Managing recipients and distribution lists
  • Learning Guide: Exchange Server performance
  • Reference Center: Exchange Server mailbox management
  • Dig Deeper on Exchange Server setup and troubleshooting

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