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  Pete Sass
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 Marathon, Ontario
 Pete Sass

This is for Exchange server folks running Exchange server 2000 "Standard Edition".

Exchange server 2000 "Standard Edition" if you do not know has a 16 GB cap on the Exchange server database. With Exchange server 2003 this cap was removed due to many complaints arising from this cap.

On Exchange server 2000 "Standard Edition", as your database grows and reaches the cap you will get no warning "what-so-ever". Nothing will appear wrong on the Exchange server and all services will startup without any errors. What you will find out is you cannot access the database, thus all abilities to read, send and receive emails will stop. I just finished up a major Exchange server outage issue tonight. From a clients perspective everything was working 100% yesterday, but today nothing is working.

Microsoft support advise they do not have any utilities to obtain the true size of the Exchange server database, but Exchange server does generate a 1221 log record in the Windows server application log and in the details it advises an estimate only of the remaining free space. In this case the log event advised there still was free space and looking at the priv1.edb and priv1.stm files the physical space on the hardrive that these files occupied was 14.2 GB's. A client will assume that all is well with event 1221 and the file sizes still almost 2 GB's under the cap. However, when the database mounts, it grows and takes up more space that one suspects from the files sizes on the harddrive. Due to this many Exchange server 2000 clients have been caught with a major Exchange server outage, thus the removal of the cap in Exchange server 2003.

On top of this to run the ESEUTIL utility to defrag and compress the database one has to first unmount the database using the unmount option in the Exchange server Manager console. Unfortunately, with a maxed out database the unmount will not work and lock up, thus you cannot run the ESEUTIL to shrink the database size.... nice ay!!!

Anyways, shutting down all Exchange services and setting them to manual and rebooting the server will bring it up with an unmounted database, surprisingly Microsoft support did not suggest this at all and suggested that the database be restored to a previous backup version to allow the defrag/compression to be run, but this means a customer would loose all emails between now and the backup that would be restored back into the server.

At best on a large database at close to 16GB's and a mid-powered server you could be looking at 10 hours for the defrag/compress to complete.

My tip to all Exchange server 2000 customers is to closely watch the 1221 event log entry and the file sizes. Seems like when you get around 14 GB's you are now at a critical size and could max out. One should consider:

1. Performing an off-line defrag/compress way before reaching the 14 GB mark.
2. Or bit the bullit and upgrade to Exchange server 2003.


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