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What's with mushrooming mailboxes?

How to figure out what's going on if you suddenly notice your Exchange 5.5 server's information store database size increase dramatically.

Sometimes administrating Exchange 5.5 can be exciting. Don't believe it? Suppose, then, that you're conducting routine database checks on your 5.5 server when you notice that for some reason the information store database has increased tremendously since the day before.

How do you figure out what caused this growth? The quickest thing to do is to scan each mailbox looking for that growth. Of course you will have to monitor the mailbox in question over a period of about two days to determine the growth increase.

Here's how:

  • Open the Exchange Administrator program then go to properties of the Private Information Store.
  • Click on the Mailbox Resources tab.
  • Then view the mailboxes sorted by size.

Once the problem mailbox is detected, you can figure out what's causing this unexplained growth? But first, you have to authorize the administrator account as an owner of the offending mailbox:

  • Highlight the user's mailbox then click on File -> Properties.
  • Select the Permissions tab. (If not visible, go to Tools -> Options. Select the Permissions tab and ensure that both "Show Permissions Page for all objects" and "Display rights for roles on Permissions Page" boxes are checked).
  • On the Permissions tab, click Add to include your NT account to the list of accounts with mailbox owner right permissions to that particular mailbox.

Now here are some solutions:

A user may have gone on vacation without enabling the "out of office reply" feature, which will often mean that mail just keeps getting sent and never deleted, nor answered. If this is the case, then the easiest thing to do is to set a mailbox size limit, or prohibit the sending/receiving of mail. Another solution might be to enable "Out Of Office" notification by logging on to the user's mailbox.

Or, there may be a malfunctioning rule. Log on to the mailbox and check for a faulty rule. If you find one, delete it. After you delete the faulty rule, Exchange automatically performs an online defrag that frees up space within the information store database and optimizes access. If you notice that the information store size has not decreased, it might be best to perform an offline defrag. But before you do that, perform a backup of the information store. Execute the following command to do an offline defragging of the information store:

     eseutil /d /ispriv

Adesh Rampat has 10 years experience with network and IT administration. He is a member of the Association of Internet Professionals, the Institute for Network Professionals, and the International Webmasters Association. He has also lectured extensively on a variety of topics.

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