I've inherited an Exchange server that looks like it has never been cared for: no backups, running out of disk space, huge mail store, huge mailboxes, stores dismounting for being over the store size limit... you name it, I'm dealing with it.

I've got this a bit more under control, but we still have the disk space issue. The system itself has room for three more drives, which I have pitched up the chain to management. It's likely to be approved but until then, I still have a problem.

My problem is that we have very little disk space left and I need to keep this system running until I can get those drives. I've been forced to turn on circular logging to keep Exchange running, but that will only last so long. I can't do an offline degrag to shrink the size of the mail or public folders stores because both stores have grown too large.

Public Folders aren't used very much by anyone, but from what I've been reading, you can't just dismount and delete the Public Folders store because Exchange system data is stored there. Is this true? Can I really not dismount and delete the Public Folders store? It would give us about 30GB of disk space back, which we really need (still not enough to do an offline degrag, but will get us through until those drives get approved, ordered, and installed).

I'm open to other suggestions/options, if there are any.

The current system is running 3 disks in a RAID 5, then partitioned in Windows with an OS volume and an Exchange volume (ugh). The OS volume has disk space issues of its own, but is manageable. The Exchange volume has about 1GB disk space left, with approximately 125GB being consumed by the Exchange install + data + logs.

My plan, while not ideal but still better than what we currently have, is to bring in 3 x 300 GB disks running RAID 5 and get the data stores moved to that volume. That would give me the extra space I need to do an offline defrag of the stores (should I need to) to keep this server running for another year or two until we completely replace it.

Until I can get there, however, I need some disk space. So my question again: Can I safely dismount, archive, and delete the Public Folders store? Or will that really take Exchange offline?


Exchange 2003 really does use Public Folders for things. Specifically, the Offline Address Book and Free/Busy information storage.

However, you CAN nuke all user-generated data in there. That's probably a majority of the consumed space. The System store is in a different public folder root than the one the users see (IIRC, I'm on 2007 so may be misremembering) so it should be distinct.

  • Thanks, I am already doing that to some extent. I've setup items in the Public Folders to expire and purge after 30 days. I've dumped, quite literally, millions of emails/posts this way. It hasn't reduced the file size, however. I would need to do an offline degrag of the store and I don't have the disk space available. Any ideas? – Cypher Sep 26 '10 at 2:40
  • @Cypher: you can use an inexpensive external USB drive for the offline defrag. I've successfully done this with databases that were 200GB. – joeqwerty Sep 26 '10 at 3:48
  • @cypher I second joeqwerty. We had to do an ESEUTIL run on our 2003 databases once, and we ended up copying them to a larger network drive (risky I know, but expedient) to let them run. It works! – sysadmin1138 Sep 26 '10 at 3:59
  • @joeqwerty & sysadmin1138: Thanks, that's a good idea. I'll give that a shot and see how it turns out. – Cypher Sep 29 '10 at 18:30
  • Glad to throw in my two cents. – joeqwerty Sep 29 '10 at 18:52

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