Our current setup is the Outlook 2007 client connected to an Exchange 2003 server. We run the client on 2K3 terminal servers and have disabled PST files. There is quite a large volume of emails stored in any one folder, per user. I'd like to improve the performance of searching the email items if at all possible. As it stands right now a search will lock the client up for a good minute or more while it queries the email items. Note that deleting emails in most cases is not an option. Does anyone have any other suggestions for speeding up the searches?

  • Your options are really limited to 1) less mail or 2) use a proper database. .PST and .OST files used by Outlook are not proper databases, and is why searching through them suuuuucks. The easiest solution for this problem would be to direct your users to search through OWA, and/or convince them that no one needs 98,000 emails spanning 12 years in their inbox. – HopelessN00b Apr 15 '14 at 17:50
  • Always good advice. Because our users run sessions via terminal services we had to disable PST files long ago. I should have put that in the original post. – Digital ink Apr 15 '14 at 18:12
  • You can still put it in your original post. In fact, that's a good practice here @ serverfault. – MichelZ Apr 15 '14 at 18:25
  • Searching email in Exchange Server 2003 can be and was notoriously slow, regardless of Outlook version. The long term solution is to move to Exchange Server 2010 or 2013. – joeqwerty Apr 15 '14 at 20:18

First of all, you should upgrade your Exchange Server to a newer version, that probably already helps a lot.

Second thing, you should make sure that you don't have more items in a folder than the recommended limit.

The limits are:

Exchange 2000/2003: 5,000
Exchange 2007: 20,000
Exchange 2010: 100,000


If you are over this limit, you should move the items into a separate folder.

Also, it depends on your settings. Do you use an OST file (Offline mode)? If yes, it helps moving it to fast disk (i.e. SSD)

  • Thanks MichelZ. I wasn't aware of the recommended item limits. That will help in making a case for better management at the user level. As for a server upgrade... well spending that kind of cash may be a tough sell. Worth the effort though. Am i right in thinking that upgrading the client servers (terminal servers) with SSD's would net a minimal gain? Its the server that is the bottleneck correct? – Digital ink Apr 15 '14 at 18:15
  • It depends. If you don't use cached mode on the terminal server (I assume you don't), then the Exchange server is the bottleneck – MichelZ Apr 15 '14 at 18:24
  • Just following up on this question. We ended up doing a massive cleanup project to reduce the mail items for each user. – Digital ink Jul 25 '14 at 18:39

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