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I have an Exchange 2003 environment serving approx 150 users. We are quickly approaching the 75 GB limit, and need to clear out what I can until we can get a new server in place. (Probably months out...)

In trying to clean things up a bit, I discovered a problem with 1 Mailbox and it's "Recover Deleted Items" feature. He can recover emails that are a full 3 years old!

I have the Mailbox Store's "Keep Deleted Items for (days):" setting set to 2 days. I have also tried changing his mailbox to not use the Mailbox Store settings and have manually set his mailbox to 2 (and even 0 days when that didn't work).
I have a feeling that is could be accounting for a very significant portion of our Mailbox Store as he's one of the heaviest users.

I've been able to check quite a few other mailboxes, and they all seem to be working perfectly. No more than 2 or 3 days worth of deletions in the Recovery area... It appears that this one user is the only problem mailbox, but I don't know of any way to truly tell.

Does anybody know how I might be able to flush this out? Or does anybody know of another setting that might be set for this mailbox somehow? I've checked everything I can find, and there is very little of anything "special" for this user.

My first thought was to delete his mailbox and re-build it, but I'd rather not as that would be a major undertaking for this user (4GB mailbox, tons of rules, tons of email addresses, included in tons of distribution groups, etc...).
I'd rather not do that unless I absolutely have to...

Thank you in advance for any help you can provide!

share|improve this question
Thank you Evan and Mark, I actually did find some errors, just not where I expected to. Apparently Database Maintenance is set to run only on Sunday between 6:30 and 10am... That's getting changed... Just after the Cleanup begins there are 7 errors (though listed as just Information) stating: "Error -1601 while hard-deleting messages in folder 1-91876 on database "First Storage Group\Mailbox Store (EMAIL)" The folder changes with each error. Also the summary event shows this: Start: 515990 items; 36661813 Kbytes End: 483080 items; 33033988 Kbytes Looks like 30 untouchable Gigabytes! – Erik Jul 29 '10 at 19:41
If it were me, given the -1601 error, I would: 1. "Make sure you have a backup handy" 2. Run Isinteg -s <servername> -fix -test alltests I haven't worked directly with Exchange disaster recovery in at least.. 7? or so years, but I would consider calling Microsoft support. – Mark Allen Jul 29 '10 at 21:47

This feature, known as "Dumpster Cleanup", is handled by the online Information Store maintenance functionality. By default, this runs from 00:00 to 05:00 local time.

There isn't any mechanism that I'm aware of to prevent a mailbox from being processed by dumpster cleanup.

Are your online backups running properly? I'd assume so, given that other users aren't building up dumpster items, but it's worth asking.

Are you seeing anything in the Application Event Log to indicate that there are problems occurring during the maintenance activities? If there was anywhere I'd suspect to find a smoking gun it would be here.

You can manually purge the dumpster for the affected mailbox to mark more space free in the IS database if you're running low on space. That's only a band-aid fix, but it might help.


I'd be wary of that Information Store database based on what you've said in your comment re: your Event Log message. If you can, put up a temporary Exchange Server computer, move the mailboxes over to it, and start fresh on your production machine.

You won't have to do anything with Outlook-- Exchange is smart enough to "redirect" users to another Exchange Server computer when their mailbox is moved. As such, as long as you can muster the spare hardware you should be able to swing the mailboxes over to a temporary box, clean up the production box, and swing the mailboxes back. I wouldn't reinstall Exchange on the production box, but I would get all the mailboxes moved out of its Information Store, at which time I'd start with a fresh mailbox database.

If you cant do that, perform copious backups on the production server and run an isinteg against the store. That might clean up the problems you're seeing.

share|improve this answer
Came here to say what Evan said - check the application event log. – Mark Allen Jul 29 '10 at 18:42
Sorry about that-- I used the word "Purge" in an inexact manner. From Microsoft Outlook, go into the "Recovery Deleted Items" dialog and delete any items you'd like to "purge" from there. That will permanently delete those items. – Evan Anderson Jul 29 '10 at 19:34
I've been in that window countless times and never realized I could do that! Thanks for the heads up! I'll try that on the Mailbox in question and see if those items can be removed. That may just solve the Database Maintenance problems as well... One can hope at least. Thank You! – Erik Jul 29 '10 at 20:20
I dropped on an edit re: your event log message comment. – Evan Anderson Jul 29 '10 at 21:10

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