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We are running Exchange Server 2003 and we have about 400 users and a quota limit of 250MB per mailbox.

We had about 8GB of free space left, and that was always enough, but now since since about 2 weeks ago, all of a sudden the exchange databases are growing rapidly.

I already had to resize the disk and added an extra 40GB, but now that is already down to 33GB and still going down at a rate of 1GB a day.

The mailboxes do not seem to get larger. So what is taking up all that space?

Can someone give me some advice on how to troubleshoot this problem?

I have read something about offline defrag (eseutil), that might help to free up some space, but I think it will not solve the root cause.

Circular logging is enabled.

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You will need to do an offline defrag of your databases to reclaim space. You can do this with the eseutil but obviously an offline defrag means downtime. Check out this article on how to use eseutil to perform an offline defrag: Eseutil Offline Defrag

Eseutil can be found in the install director of exchange under the Bin directory:

C:\Program Files\Exchsrvr\bin

Make sure you have a good backup of the databases before running the defrag. Then dismount the databases and run eseutil /d <database>

Also check on your Deleted item retention period. It may be that users are deleting lager items that have been coming in. These deleted messages wouldn't count toward their mailbox size but would impact the size of your databases.

KB249680 - Deleted Item Retention

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@Cheekaleak, thank you for your answer. I am planning to do an offline defrag next weekend. But reclaiming space is not enough. I would like to know the reason why it is growing, because I believe it is not normal. We have been running this server several years and the databases have never been growing so rapidly like this time. – Apr 8 '11 at 12:54
Have you confirmed that the database is the culprit or are you only assuming that? There could be another reason for the disk space depletion. How large is the transaction log? How fast is the log growing? – joeqwerty Apr 8 '11 at 12:56
@joeqwerty, I have compared the .edb and .stm files over a 3 day period. priv1.edb file: 76.5GB -> 81.5GB , priv1.stm 32.4GB -> 34.7GB . I have enabled circular logging, there are 5 E00xx.log files of 5MB each that rotate, full rotation of these logs about 6 minutes. – Apr 8 '11 at 13:11
Has anything changed recently in your environment? What type of antivirus is on your exchange mailbox server and is it scanning the exchange directories? – HostBits Apr 8 '11 at 13:31
Oh, well reconfigure Trend to not scan the Exchange directories. In fact, take a look at this article and the linked articles:… – joeqwerty Apr 8 '11 at 14:07
up vote 1 down vote accepted

While trying the other good suggestions, I have found the cause of the problem. I probably should have been more complete in my description of what has changed in the environment. We are currently changing our backup software. It seems(I don't know for sure yet) that one of the last backups failed and that this caused ongoing increasing in size of the files. I did a new successfull backup, and since then/until now (2days) the files are not increasing in size. My guess it that the backup software is setting some kind of archive or expiry settings in the exchange databases. So for now it is solved. I will however try to do a Offline Defrag to see if some space can be reclaimed. Thanks to everybody who gave me suggestions that pointed guided me in the right direction.

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