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What Corporate Email Limits Do You Have? 501

Posted by Cliff
from the drives-that-are-bursting-at-the-seams dept.
roundisfunny wonders: "We currently do not have any mailbox restrictions for our Exchange users - which has led us to have a 420 GB mail store for 320 users. Our largest mailbox has over 13 GB in it. One of the main concerns for us is the time it takes for a restore. We have encouraged archiving, but now have 250 GB of .pst files. What sort of limitations does your company have on mailbox size, amount of time you can keep mail, and archives? Please mention your email platform, type of business, and number of users."
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What Corporate Email Limits Do You Have?

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  • For God's sake (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Monday March 06, 2006 @03:41PM (#14860636) Journal
    I can't imagine that 320 people have 420GB of business data stored on the company servers. If they honestly are using all that space for business related material, you guys need to fix up a TB or two of networked storage + employee training in how to use it.

    My other suggestion is to register everybody a Gmail account for personal use and then have a special talk with the biggest inbox abusers.

    P.S. You didn't mention your "type of business." That woulda helped us elvaluate your situation a bit better.
    • Re:For God's sake (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cjunky (89004) on Monday March 06, 2006 @03:53PM (#14860794)
      We have a similar problem... 100gigs of email for 30 people, (60 mailboxes) in Exchange. We work for the government doing different things, involving many, many pictures of real estate. Most of those come from sub contractors in email, and its just archived there in exchange.

      I wish I could come up with a better way to store it, but everything I have tried makes our owner throw a fit, so it goes back to the only part of the computer she knows how to work... Her email.
      • Re:For God's sake (Score:4, Insightful)

        by eepok (545733) on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:46PM (#14861979) Homepage
        Damn!

        1st Question: What resolution are the photos at?
        2nd Question: What compression?

        I have a pal in real estate who invested mucho dinero on a bangin comp and camera because it was "so" necessary to have when showing off a piece of property. One day, he gets a hold of me to look at his very laggy computer and I find thousands of photos of houses (about 25 per house with one being labeled -Final- each) each photo at some insane resolution of 2048.

        I asked him what he needed such high-res photos of the houses for and he said "I need the best photo possible when advertising." I asked him to show me a sample of the advertisement and, no kidding here, he popped out a magazine with a few of the houses at 3"x3".

        So we filtered out what photos he wanted to keep, archived the old/irrelevant ones (just used winrar), and set his camera to default to 800.

        Sure enough, we freed up about 30GB (then defragged for the sake of his VirtMem)
    • I like your idea of the gmail accounts. Maybe I'll make that suggestion here...

      Anyway, a lot of people only understand how to do three things on a computer. Office, simple web browsing, and Email. They don't know how to send files with the first two, but they sure know how to with the third. If you were to implement some sort of ftp server they can exchange large files on (and promote it), that would most likely take care of the biggest files. Also, a lot of people don't even realize how big a file is. T
      • Re:Education (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:18PM (#14861064) Homepage
        Gmail accounts are totally inappropriate for business use or even near business use.
        • Re:Education (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Rolan (20257) * on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:38PM (#14861337) Homepage Journal
          Gmail accounts are totally inappropriate for business use or even near business use. ~ Saeed al-Sahaf (665390)
          Correct, which is why the suggestion was:
          My other suggestion is to register everybody a Gmail account for personal use and then have a special talk with the biggest inbox abusers. ~TubeSteak (669689) [Bolding Mine]
          • Re:Education (Score:2, Informative)

            by ROOK*CA (703602) *
            My other suggestion is to register everybody a Gmail account for personal use and then have a special talk with the biggest inbox abusers

            Perhaps the "inappropriate" remark was based on the presumption that it's not a very good idea to allow your user base to access free mail services from inside your network, let alone encouraging them to do it. After all most businesses are a bit shy about having totally uncontrolled conduits for data flowing into and out of the network, no?

            I could see simply helpi
          • Re:Education (Score:5, Informative)

            by Jim_Maryland (718224) on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:37PM (#14861911)
            My other suggestion is to register everybody a Gmail account for personal use

            You may also find that some companies block access to external email sites like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc... My employer found that most of the infections on the network were related to content from outside email services so their solution was to keep people from accessing them. People could forward messages from home if needed and the messages would still go through the regular virus scans/checks/etc.... While the policy can be pretty annoying at times, people have adjusted to the policy.

            As for email limits, I believe ours is set around 43MB on the Exchange server. We do have local files (stored on a network drive) that are not subject to the size rule on the email server, but are addressed by a corporate policy (which I would guess most people likely break). We also have a retention policy of 90 days for messages unless a user moves it to their personal files (.pst).
    • Look before you leap- Maybe they work somewhere they are required to save all their email (You may not yet be high enough on the corporate ladder to understand why, but it could have to do with Sarbanes Oxley).
      Using GMail would be bad for a few reasons- one, it is unprof. to have a free email account for business purposes. And, once again, regulations may require them to keep emails indefinately, and as such they may want/need control over the server.
      • Maybe they work somewhere they are required to save all their email (You may not yet be high enough on the corporate ladder to understand why...

        In cases where email is required to be saved for legal reasons, this almost always done at the mail server administrative end, not the end user end. It is done by archiving back-ups of the entire system.

    • My outlook consumes over 100mb of space; my messages only go back 4 months and I'm a lowly peon where I work. Take someone higher up on higher traffic distribution lists with excel spreadsheets / word documents who has been at the company for a few years and doesn't clean out irrelevant emails (or AutoArchive) and yeah, you will have a lot of users at a gig and a lot of users over that.

      The ones at 10+ gigs probably - like I said - are on distribution lists and aren't deleting attachments.
      • Re:I believe it... (Score:4, Informative)

        by MikeURL (890801) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:56AM (#14864469) Journal
        I'm sure I'm missing something but all my emails are saved locally to .pst files (archived and active). I think only a few weeks worth are available on the server. Locally I probably have about 4-5 gig of emails which is a lot but once I started using YDS they became a really invaluable database of every email contact I've ever had at work (10+ years). In fact, I echo those folders (along with my data folders) to my network drive every night.
    • many people archive the mail junk from the last two or three years. most people don't reduce the
      mail they reply to (like removing useless .sigs, proper quoting, ...)

      I think office jobs are all about writing mails and discussing them by phone (note: over-simplification here)
      One day a co-worker announced his 1000 unread mail...

    • Re:For God's sake (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Hektor_Troy (262592) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:28PM (#14861221)
      I don't have a problem believing that amount of emails. The consulting engineering company I worked for (14 people in all) had abut 80 GB of emails when I joined the company. Many of them were replicated across mailboxes, because mails sent to one guy might need to be forwarded for further evaluation by others (and they didn't know how to use the network server properly) and in one case I blinked several times and double checked to make sure, but someone had sent a 1.8 GB (yes, GIGAbyte) email(!!!).

      It contained every single version of a set of documents involved in a project (I think some 1.000+ documents) nicely zipped in a single file. Not sure just how long it took to send or receive, but our mailserver was set up not to reject anything, except for a complete lack of diskspace.

      It made me rethink the need for storage space in our company.
      • Re:For God's sake (Score:3, Insightful)

        by neoform (551705)
        You know there's a special protocol for transfering files (especially those that are large..), it's called FTP.
        • Re:For God's sake (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Eneff (96967)
          For that matter, we've started using Subversion and TortoiseSVN for documents on the business side of our company. After all, many times the back and forth email can be better served by versioning.

          That said, it's been a bit of a learning curve for them, and they already have suffered that for email, so it takes some time.
      • Re:For God's sake (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jgp (72888)
        That's why it's called e*MAIL*. You've been doing the equivalent of FedEx'ing elephants to each other. Don't be surprised if you end up with a zoo ...
    • Re:For God's sake (Score:3, Interesting)

      by m101 (834048)
      * Disclaimer: I work for Xemplify IT, we sell software in this area *

      In my experience, significant quantities of your mail will be made up by movies & pictures being mailed around - it's risky to remove this carte blanche because some can actually be business related.

      The second worst abusers are marketing and accounting staff. Not so much the volume of mail but the large attachments they tend to exchange, like monthly reconciliation spreadsheets, printing proofs, etc. The good news is handling these guy
    • Easy enough (Score:3, Informative)

      by lilmouse (310335)
      I used to work in a financial-systems company. On of our customer service people had his .pst fill up when it reached 2 gig. I'd estimate that at *least* 95% of his e-mail was work related. Won't say much else, but it was a pain in the *ss to fix.

      --LWM
    • Re:For God's sake (Score:4, Insightful)

      by shokk (187512) <ernieoporto.yahoo@com> on Monday March 06, 2006 @08:12PM (#14863086) Homepage Journal
      He needs to gather everyone together and have them repeat the mantra:

      "Email is not a filesystem".
      Put it on a network share and point everyone to it.
      If they are outside the company, then that may be an exception, or put it in a blind anonymous FTP area that gets swept once a week.
      • Re:For God's sake (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rubycodez (864176)
        actually, Microsoft and Novell and others have done their darndest to make email a filesystem. Not only with folders and subfolders, but with ability to store documents and notes in folders also. Searchable, archivable, what a nifty filesystem!
    • The company I work at, BestBuy, has about 800 stores with about 30 people from each store with a company email address. You get about a 2MB mailbox before it locks you out of your email, and you have to change your password once every 2 weeks. Anybody can send you an email, but you can only check it from within the intranet using their web interface through their employee toolkit, or any computer attached to the intranet. Feel free to ask questions.
    • by ykiwi (211385) on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:37PM (#14863441) Homepage
      email is a basic tool like the phone - it should just work.

      I'm a management consultant (sorry sorry sorry), and my email box often hits the limit within days or weeks of arriving at a new client. It is annoying as anything, and it's an early sign of a poorly run stupid-rules-based IT shop.

      I've seen people delete unread and unanswered emails just so that they can respond to a more urgent one.
      I've dealt with people who could seldom send email as their limits were always exceeded, and they didn't know what to do
      I've seen people adopt the only solution they can - archiving their email to their laptop HDD - not a great place to leave your only copy of your crucial business info.
      I've (sadly) written PPT preentations and spreadsheets that are to big to email versus the internal limits. zipped.

      Why do people want to keep all their emails?
      - I am not a lawyer, nor do I (I hope) write emails that are legaly dubious.
      - I want to keep records of all my business transactions - so my non spam non trivial email is not deleted.
      - Spotlight/google desktop are great for finding those old, vital emails. no need to sort them

      How can emails get so big?
      Some organisations have a 'send the link, not the file' policy. Depressingly few however. Where this doesn't work then my inbox rapidly fills up with all sorts of (mainly MS Office) binaries.
      When working on a important document there will be multiple versions flying around. Keeping older versions is important, as you can see who did what and when.
      Spreadsheets and datasets are getting bigger - many of my key spreadsheets are over 10mb.
      Pictures, movies and sound are increasingly part of everything we do, e.g. powerpoint presentatons (yes I can't stand powerpoint, but people do use it)
      Zipping is a pain.

      What should IT do?
        I advocate nagging at certain points, but not a set limit.

      Some users are data people, and they are sending around big datasets, be it on spreadsheets or otherwise. Get to know them, work with them but for goodness sakes help them as they are vital to the company. Whatever you do don't stop them from doing their stuff without implementing a better solution. (can you hear the voice of experience?)

      follow your company's archive rule, but don't forget to check those laptops....
      • by sbryant (93075) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @05:50AM (#14865211)

        I think the real problem is that you (and lots of other people) are using an email system to do something it simply wasn't designed for, and it's a strain for the users, the administrators, and often for the server too.

        Often what is required is an information management system, where you can store and exchange information with others, and which will tell you when new information arrives which is relevant to you.

        That may sound like email, but there are some very basic differences. Imagine you email somebody a document, they change it and send it back. You've now got two separate instances. Do that a few times, and things get messy; it would be better if you had a single instance which could be changed. You could see who changed what, and when.

        How do you sort your information? Maybe by date, or by name or subject. What if you want to sort by sales region and by partner account? Email isn't that extensible, but an info management system will do that. You can generally go further and have whole virtual folder trees that will let you find the information you want much more easily. Email normally only has fixed folders. Some email clients have virtual folders that are search results, but that's not the same thing and it's not as fast (doesn't scale).

        A decent information management system will also define who can see what, and when (for information that has a lifecycle), and will be accessible in all the same places that the email server is. That means that partners or clients can have controlled access to data on your server that is related to them, and may be permitted to change or add information. This removes much of the need for email, although you can have the system email you when someone changes or adds something.

        Once you have started working with such a system, everything suddenly becomes much more coordinated, and you leave email to do what it was supposed to do - be an electronic replacement for posting something.

        -- Steve

    • Re:For God's sake (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ChrisGilliard (913445)
      If they honestly are using all that space for business related material, you guys need to fix up a TB or two of networked storage + employee training in how to use it.

      Or you could avoid the costly training, and buy a $200 400 gB drive and double your disk space overnight and focus on other stuff, like making great products for instance.
    • I can't imagine that 320 people have 420GB of business data stored on the company servers.

      Person A sends 10 MB spreadsheet to B, C, D, E and F
      Person C make one line edit, sends back to A, B, D, E and F
      Person D changes a single letter typo, sends to A, B C, E and F
      ... (and so on)
      Person A, B, C, D, E and F never delete old email, "just in case they need it one day"

      its hard to imagine 320 knowledgeable computer users having 420GB of work email, its very easy to imagine 310 luddites having 418GB of redund

  • Our setup (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 06, 2006 @03:43PM (#14860663)
    We're limited to 10MB attachment/message. Attachments can't be executable or compressed volumes containing executable files. Other than that we aren't really limited. (There is a cap on how large my mailboxes can be on the server, but they they increase the space regularly so I've never actually cared to pay attention to the cap.) As I understand it, I'm expected to leave all of my e-mail their forever and not worry about deleting.

    Type of Business: Work from Home
    Number of Users: 1
    E-Mail Platform: GMail
  • Business Limits (Score:5, Informative)

    by chill (34294) on Monday March 06, 2006 @03:46PM (#14860717) Journal
    Our current setup (Exchange,30 users) limits people to 100 Mb of online e-mail storage. I consider this obscenely small, but I'm not the admin here and HAVE been on the other side of the fence, so can see the reasons.

    Last time I was admin it was 50 users, Exchange 2000 and the biggest e-mail boxes were 2 Gb or so.

    This is actually a simple issue, if you look at it from a business perspective.

    E-mail is a mission-critical service in most businesses. If e-mail stops, lots of places will grind to a halt. So, it needs to be treated with the appropriate respect and budget.

    Get all the costs necessary for a proper setup: RAID-5 or RAID-10 SCSI, or maybe a SAN. Proper backup, either e-Vaulting or automated tape with weekly off-site rotation (GFS scheme). You might want to consider redundant equipment for a warm stand-by. Price all that out and give it to management, then limit them to what management will pay for since much of your cost will be dictated by Gb.

    While 500 Gb IDE drives may be cheap, a corresponding RAID array of server-class SCSI drives isn't and proper tape storage is also not cheap. Let business necessities provide the answers here.

      -Charles
  • We have a 60MB Limit for warning with a 90MB limit for receiving and a 120MB limit for sending and receiving. We have some 300+ users and this keeps our mailbox store at a manageable level and allows for quick mailbox restores from backup. We have users archive to a .pst file on a SAN that is in the backup rotation. Since we can add storage to the SAN on the fly, it's not a problem with overall storage. We also issue quarterly documents discussing mailbox storage and how-tos in an effort to educate our
    • We have a 60MB Limit for warning with a 90MB limit for receiving and a 120MB limit for sending and receiving. We have some 300+ users and this keeps our mailbox store at a manageable level and allows for quick mailbox restores from backup. We have users archive to a .pst file on a SAN that is in the backup rotation. Since we can add storage to the SAN on the fly, it's not a problem with overall storage.

      In my opinion, whoever established that policy for your company is a friggin' idiot.

      I have been in the emp

  • 10,000+ mailboxes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Monday March 06, 2006 @03:47PM (#14860731)
    Our maiboxes are anywhere around 100MB to 250MB in size, upgradeable upon request. A few are multiple gigabytes in size. The main growth comes from people sending documents around, which have a 10MB size limit.

    This November, we have a new rule in place where no e-mail older than a year will be saved. It'll be purged from backups and everything. Interestingly enough, this is primarily being done for legal reasons, not technical.

    Of course, the thought is that all those documents will then be put on our resource servers or local hard drives. Lawyers are getting smart enough to sopena everything, not just e-mail.
  • by MikeDawg (721537) on Monday March 06, 2006 @03:49PM (#14860755) Homepage Journal
    If you were to run a different mail server, where not all the info was stored in huge databases (like Exchange) I can guarantee the backup process would be much easier. For example, if you were to run cyrus-imapd and store all the mail as files on a filesystem, and then come up with any backup plan, it would be 10x easier to perform and backup/restore than with Exchange. Exchange's flaws come in the fact that it has those huge databases to contend with, and if you were dealing with a filesystem, a restore is extremely simple and precise.
    • Also why are Exchange mailboxes so damn large anyway? I've tried getting mine down to a reasonable size but it just seems impossible even when you are ruthlessly deleting (and yes I am emptying the trash) emails and making sure there are no large attachments hanging around.
    • You've obviously never managed a large scale server farm. Most backup systems (especially tape backup) choke on lots of small files. We use a two-stage backup process where production servers are cloned online to archive servers which then compress the content into large archives for the TB robots. This makes TB run much faster without loading-down the production servers - we couldn't do the daily backups required by SLA's any other way.

      I do agree with you, though, that having to restore an entire Exchange
    • by Anonymous Coward
      That sounds really spiffy. Perhaps you can elighten everyone about the great integrated group calendaring components of...oh wait a minute, there *aren't* any.
    • For example, if you were to run cyrus-imapd and store all the mail as files on a filesystem, and then come up with any backup plan, it would be 10x easier to perform and backup/restore than with Exchange

      Ugh, you picked the wrong day to say that. After my mailserver had weird problems over the weekend (of the 'Cyrus sucking down 100% CPU time in index_checkseen while making no system calls' variety), I ran a reconstruct...which took two and a half hours. (Thankfully, it did fix the problem.)

      The episode w

  • None, whatsoever. However, users are warned that e-mail is not backed-up and subject to being erased any time. So if people want to keep stuff, it's their responsibility to save and archive the stuff (on backed-up servers).
    • Re:None. (Score:3, Funny)

      by pintomp3 (882811)
      so.. you work at hotmail?
    • Re:None. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DrSkwid (118965)
      What will you do when the auditor comes and wants all the emails you are legally obliged to keep ?

      It's the company directors responsibilty that your users didn't add their emails to the archive, not the employees.

  • by doug (926) on Monday March 06, 2006 @03:53PM (#14860797)
    I've seen this before. It is always marketting and management that eat up the most disk space, and they always insist that every single byte is mission critical. They will pay lip service, and delete some stuff, but never enough to make a real difference. Even if you try to put in quotas now, they will insist on exemptions and/or huge quotas. Most likley both.

    You will be better served if you breakdown usage by department and bill them accordingly. That is disk space, backup tapes, off-site storage, salaries, and so forth. Even if no money changes hands between departments, putting a cost to it is more likely to get someone to (re)act.

    I'm not saying that a "let's delete old files" campaign won't work, but the ones who are most likely to do something (the engineers) are not the ones eating most of the space.

    - doug
    • .. you can likely save a *massive amount of space* through simple education:

      - When someone hits the 'reply' button to an email with a big attachment, unless they have modified it, they should delete it if their client re-attached it again. I can't even count how many times this has resulted in tons of wasted space from people spawning a giant thread off of some .ppt file that was emailed around.

      - Encourage sharing of documents via a corperate file server, instead of email. Rather than emailing the f
      • Re:That said... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Malor (3658) on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:27PM (#14861812) Journal
        Actually, in Exchange, replies and CCs don't matter much. If you have forty people with the same 100mb attachment, it takes up only 100mb in the store, plus forty pointers. (tiny). And if 35 of those people 'delete' their attachment, the 100mb will still be used; your database size will barely shrink. Only if all references to an object are deleted will the space be auto-reclaimed. You can run into a problem when it's forwarded out of the company and then forwarded back IN, but as long as it stays within Exchange, it's just a bunch of pointers, not a bunch of 100mb attachments.

        Limiting attachment sizes seems to curb the worst of the problems... but a lot of non-technical people will scream and kick about having to upload files to a server. When you explain to them that email storage is extremely, extremely expensive (because it has to be hyper-reliable), and website storage can be very cheap, they're often more accommodating. And you can usually automate it fairly well with a good client, like VanDyke's stuff.

        I usually offer to set up a cron job to wipe a web transfer directory every day... this means the user doesn't need to remove the files they've uploaded. (so they don't give today's files to tomorrow's recipient by accident.) Some people like that: some people don't. Some want both a temporary and a permanent site, which is easy to set up.

        Routine external-user password changes are a very good idea in this kind of setup. Fortunately, it's easy to script. It can run with the file-wipe.... autogenerate a new http auth password for the day and email it to the user. If there were no files to wipe, don't make a new password.

        Whatever they like is cool with me, as long as they don't use Exchange for file storage. :) Once upon a time, I liked having people be able to email everything... but files have gotten so huge, and storage and backup for a big Exchange server is so obscenely expensive, that I regretfully discourage it now.
      • education is fine, except that people have to want to learn in order for it to work.

        why not detatch the attachments, save them on a file or web server, insert a URL into the email, and require the user to enter their email password in order to download the attachment over html?

        this way people get what they want - the email system can send attachments, and the admins get what they want - the email system doesn't have to archive attachments.
  • IBMr (Score:5, Interesting)

    by labalicious (844887) on Monday March 06, 2006 @03:54PM (#14860803) Homepage
    At IBM, we obviously use Lotus Notes and our restrictions are pretty tight. If you hit about 100MB, you start getting nasty candygrams from the server administrator. When you hit the cap of 150MB, they cut you off.

    You can receive email so that you don't upset customers with a "this user has hit their email limit" message but you are unable to respond to anything. Archiving is always the solution to this problem.

    We also have a tool, MyAttachments, which downloads any attachments to a mini database so that it doesn't take up space on the email server.

    If you ask me, you need to start putting some restrictions on people. 13GB is way too much stuff to have in your email box. I don't care if you have the past 6 years of email worth there, have them archive that stuff ASAP.

    If you're going to be ultra liberal with your limits, do a 1GB limit. I think that's more manageable then what you have in place now. If you want to be ultra conservative, bring it down to 250MB, which should be more than enough for anyone doing normal emailing.

    I guess the one thing you left out was what type of business is using this much space. Valve (gaming company) was sending their uncompiled Half-Life 2 code through their email server. Well, needless-to-say, their server was hacked and the code was compromised. Might want to think about that when you allow them to have such huge mail files. : /
    • I think our situation is similar (we also use Lotus Notes), but I don't really know what the actual formal limits are, and I do a fairly good job of keeping my inbox clean and storing stuff off on my own local disk.
    • Re:IBMr (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sootman (158191) on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:40PM (#14861939) Homepage Journal
      Ack! Notes! When we used it at my work (up until last year; Notes v.6) the #1 reason I *didn't* keep my mailbox down to size was there was no way to see the size of sent messages! I'm a big believer in "low hanging fruit" and would always clean my mailbox in minutes by deleting a handful of multi-MB messages, rather than spending hours going through every 5-10k message to see if I should keep it or not. Worked wonders on my inbox, but not on my outobx. Has this been fixed yet? Or was there someplace else I should have looked?

      BTW, in my company, Notes was used for *nothing* except email. There were only a tiny handful of databases built by the company or individuals and they all had very small audiences. Hardly anyone even used the calendar. If you're doing nothing but email, it isn't really the right tool for the job. Still, this limitation was a huge PITA.

      Luckily, mailbox caps were never enforced until last year when we moved to Exchange--so it was never really *that* much of a problem for me. :-)
    • Re:IBMr (Score:3, Interesting)

      by John Harrison (223649)
      I can get up to 172 MB before the nastygrams start coming. I have set up my notes to delete after 3 months and to cache attachemnts locally after three weeks. I still run into trouble sometimes. I really wish I had all my email available to me. I have projects that go away for years only to reappear and it would be great to be able to pull up all the old contact info.

      Anyhow, I find it amazing that the limit hasn't gone up at all in the 7.5 years I've been here, yet Google can offer me 2 gigs (and counti
  • None (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 06, 2006 @03:58PM (#14860851)
    Back when Exchange still had a 16GB mail store limit, I tried to implement mail storage quotas. It failed miserably, as the people I had to exempt from the quotas (managers and such) were the very same people that were largely responsible for the size of the mail store.

    Now, I don't even bother. If people want to keep all of the e-mail that they've ever sent or received and are willing to pay for the infrastructure to support it, why should I stop them?
  • Educate your users (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ADRA (37398) on Monday March 06, 2006 @03:59PM (#14860869)
    Email is NOT for:
          Sending binary copies of document XYZ
          Not for archiving every piece of information that's communicated

    If your user has 13GB of email, they most likely have an excessive amount of binary data floating around with it. Also, they've probably saved every useless piece of email that they've ever collected. As an ex-admin my boss was the most abusive offender. I always made sure to annoy staff to keep their exchange directories clean. Invariably, they'd always fill up again, and the cycle continued ad-infinitum.

    But with all these measures, we were able to roughly stabilize the amount of email that any particular user had. Take the top 10 offenders, or those that set a MB line. Post their names in an email to the company. State something like: The following employees have email boxes that are excessively large. Please clean out your mailboxes by:
    1. Deleting un-important emails that have attachments
    2. Cleaning out 'deleted' folder
    3. Removing unnessisary files
    4. Archiving old email that is historically 'important' ...

    Anyways, if you have to talk to them in the face about what they need to do, then do it. Apathy wins the day if you sit on your ass and expect users to care about anything you say.
    • by Chalex (71702) on Monday March 06, 2006 @07:31PM (#14862781) Homepage

      Email is NOT for:
                  Sending binary copies of document XYZ
                  Not for archiving every piece of information that's communicated


      And what's wrong with making your e-mail system do what the users want it to do? Why not tailor your e-mail system to your users' needs? Sure, it costs a bit more for a bigger mail server, but that's ok as long as that's what everyone wants.
    • by trevor-ds (897033) on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:00PM (#14863623)
      What!? Why do you get to dictate what e-mail is for?

      E-mail is a service used by employees to get work done. In the case of marketing/sales types, 1GB of saved e-mail is common, and it's critical business data. Yes, some of that data is binary, but it is critical.

      Often administrators impose quotas, let the users whine a bit, and then the whining subsides. The adminstrators think that the problem is solved; nope, what actually happened is that all that critical e-mail just got moved to local folders. When that local hard disk inevitably crashes, taking the critical data for a $1 million sales deal along with it, the whining will turn to screaming.

      The solution (in my opinion) is for administrators and companies to reevaluate how much e-mail is worth to users. For many, I'd argue it's worth many thousands of dollars. I'm sure some of that money could be used for a reasonable amount of storage.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    My companies Policies and Procedures Manual explicitly states that at all times our personal Inbox must contain no more than ten (10) emails regarding penis enlargement, twenty-five (25) advertisements for prescription drugs, and seventy (70) CVS or Subversion commit messages. Users found to be in violation are fined $1 per message over the limit and will have every piece of email sent to their account during an eight (8) hour period broadcast to the entire company.
  • Open your mouth (Score:3, Insightful)

    by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:00PM (#14860884)
    You'd be surprised how effective that might be. If you're the IT Overseer, get the names of the top 1% hoarders, stop by their offices, and have a quick little chat. Much more effective and fair for everyone than screaming "omg, ban teh emails!!!oneone"
  • ...but now have 250 GB of .pst files....

    What I want to know is how you managed to get files this big without them getting corrupted and unreadable?


    Yeah we aren't using Exchange/Outlook anymore....

  • Offline Archival (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheFlyingGoat (161967) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:10PM (#14860992) Homepage Journal
    At my previous employer we had two people use around 4Gb for their Exchange mailboxes. We spoke with them and had them archive all of the stuff they haven't used in a few years to a .pst file. Then we burned this to 2 DVD's, gave them 1 copy and stored 1 copy with our tapes.

    If you actually look at some of the people's email accounts, you'll notice that they never empty their deleted items folder. We informed people that they should move stuff out of their deleted items if they want to save it, and then 2 weeks later set up a policy to empty all of the deleted items folders. This cleared up over 10 GB on a network with 150 users.

    Of course, anything you do should be authorized by your management, since some situations are dictated by law. Since we were funded by government grants, we were required to keep 7 years of emails related to the programs. You'll also cover your a** this way, since if someone has a complaint about you doing something, you can refer them to your supervisor.
  • Bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:15PM (#14861038) Homepage
    One of the reasons that big mailbox limits should be discouraged is that big limits generally encourage people to use their mailboxes to archive important information there, which is inappropriate, and often leads to losing important stuff.
    • Re:Bad (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DaveRobb (139653) on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:13PM (#14861686)
      One of the reasons that big mailbox limits should be discouraged is that big limits generally encourage people to use their mailboxes to archive important information there, which is inappropriate, and often leads to losing important stuff.

      Why do you consider it to be inappropriate? My email is backed up daily, is searchable, and provides a nice indexed (by date/sender/subject) record of my work.
    • Re:Bad (Score:3, Insightful)

      by G-funk (22712)
      What choice is there in today's culture of closed software from which you can't extract your data?
  • Create a file share with a folder for each user only writable by them and accessible through a web server by everyone. Encourage users to put documents that they would share with others in that folder. They can then browse it with their web browser and copy and paste a link to someone. This has the added benefit of being able to update the document and since everyone just has the link, they see the current version whenever they open the document.

    This soultion also lets people IM documents back and forth
  • by creimer (824291) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:20PM (#14861100) Homepage
    I remember one incident at a Fujitsu division when my co-worker was instructed to send a 36MB core dump file by email to our supervisor. For whatever reason, he accidentally sent the email to everyone in the division (~1200 people). Needless to say, the Windows NT email server keeled over and the administrator spent three days removing every copy of the core file from each account. It was no surprise that my co-worker was let go when a round of layoffs came. But, very surprisingly, he was hired back the administrator to work in the IT department. Go figure.
    • by dotgain (630123) on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:19PM (#14861735) Homepage Journal
      ...my co-worker was instructed to send a 36MB core dump file by email to our supervisor. For whatever reason, he accidentally sent the email to everyone in the division ... my co-worker was let go when a round of layoffs came. But, very surprisingly, he was hired back the administrator to work in the IT department.

      Appropriate punishment.

  • best practices (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Deathlizard (115856) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:26PM (#14861186) Homepage Journal
    First off, if you haven't run the Exchange best practices analyzer tool, Do so. It gives out a lot of advice regarding exchange and it's settings.
    http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/excha nge/downloads/2003/analyzers/default.mspx [microsoft.com]

    Second, as for storage limits, I would limit their exchange storage to 1GB per user, and (if you can. this only works with MSOffice Outlook) on the server side, set a autoarchive policy to archive files older than a few months to their archive folder on their PC except for the Deleted items (30 days then delete) and Junk Mail (7 Days then delete).

    Third, Make sure they are made aware of any change that will affect their exchange mail store, that way, when Jim moans about how he lost all of his mail in Deleted Items after a month in there, you can point him to the memo.
  • Here we have 160 users for about 13GB of emails. We do ont have limits, not do we expect to put any. Email is the lifeblood of the company, and it is handled with the respect it deserves. 13GB is actualy a very small amount of data compared to all the other stuff we handle. Setup: Solaris + SAN + Postfix + Dovecot (IMAP) Most users have all their emails (in and out) ever since they started here.
  • by Pope (17780)
    We run MS Exchange, 40MB limit on the server. You start getting "Warning" emails just before 39MB IIRC, then at around just past 40MB you can't send emails, since your quota's full.

    I had never used Outlook before I started this job, and I quickly figured out what a local .PST file was for, and I was good to go. Yeah, I save practically everything, but the first thing I do is save attachments and delete them from emails and meeting requests; second is to clear out all Sent Items with attachments to my local
  • The main solution the backup industry seems to be header towards is automatic email archiving. I know for sure Veritas (I mean Symantec), CommVault, Legato and ARCserve all offer email archive solutions for Exchange. They all tend to work in the same way, by removing the real email message from the database and putting in a stub. The real email is then stored in the backup system (either in a another database server, in a backup file, or on tape). Whenever the user goes to access one of these really only em
  • at over 100,000 employees, almost all in the U.S. We're a nearly-all-MS shop running Outlook 2003 for clients and we're in the process of switching (we're mostly done) from Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2003. Normal users are allowed to send emails no bigger than 2 megabytes. Power users get to send 10 mb. Everyone can have all the *.pst files they want on their local drive, but they are allotted a maximum of 500 mb on a network share for storage. If they want to fill it up with *.pst files, that's fine wi
  • by secret_squirrel_99 (530958) on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:13PM (#14861688) Homepage
    You haven't provided nearly enough information for any answer you get to be useful. For example, there are lots of good reasons to keep that data. Business needs may (or may not) be obvious but you may also, depending on your business have regulatory requirements.

    If you don't have regulatory and compliance issues, and almost everyone does these days, then you can set a much smaller mailbox size and enforce archiving or deletion. In my environment, 15000 Exchange users with heavy regulatory and compliance requirements, we allow 100MB for the typical user, 250Mb for a supervisory employee, 500MB for middle management and 1Gb for some really higher ups. We have a total of just under 2TB of live maail at the moment, and roughtly 10tb archived.

    There are alot of really cool products on the market like CommVault DataMigrator for Exchange, and EMC email extender to make alot of this seamless for you. You can use these produicts to move all of the stale (and you can define stale according to a bunch of different criteria) data off to slower (ie cheaper) storage and out of your message stores. The mail migrator will leave a stub in exchange which looks just like a mail message in outlook. The only difference is that if someone opens one of these older messages they have to wait a couple of seconds while it is brought back into the message store. The whole process is transparent.

    These products aren't cheap, but they wind up saving a ton of money, as well as improving performance because you can use much less fast storage for email, your backup needs decrease by a huge amount since you only archive like once a month (and therefore only back that data up once a month), and as a bonus you can easily meet all regulatory and compliance requirements.

  • Cyrus IMAP + Postfix (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Linux_ho (205887) on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:41PM (#14861941) Homepage
    We have almost 500 heavy IMAP users in a corporate environment, and there's lots of mailing attachments back & forth despite the availability of file servers. Our IMAP backend used to be pretty big until we implemented mailbox quotas. We have no policy for setting a maximum mailbox size - every user starts off with 100MB, and if they need more they just ask for it, and get it, in 100MB increments. The quota serves one and only one purpose: to remind users that space on the server is limited and costs the company money (mainly in terms of backup expenses). It's just a periodic reminder to clean up the old crap they're not using anymore. If they hit the quota limit, their mail delivery is interrupted until they either delete some old junk or call support and ask for a quota increase. They would usually rather delete some old mail than call support. That alone reduced our IMAP storage requirements from ~110 GB to ~30GB.
  • ...folders so that only your inbox is taking up corporate space.

    This solved the problem for us from a 'server' point of view. Now we just get users who say they're out of disk space. ;)
  • 15 users. Sendmail MTA. Dovecot IMAP server. 10MB max message size. No limits on mailbox size or age.
  • I work for a very large corporation (Fortune 50, 100,000+ employees, tens of billions of dollars in annual revenue) in a highly regulated industry - banking, investments, and other diversified financial services. We don't use Exchange as our e-mail system, however, we do have limits that are driven as much by risk mitigation as by storage and cost issues.

    Our standard corporate users have the following restrictions on e-mail:
    • E-mail files are limited to between 30 and 500 MB, depending on job function and line of business. The average user has a 100 or 200 MB file limit.
    • If a user exceeds this limit, all incoming and outgoing e-mail is "locked" (spooled and held) until the file is reduced back into compliance.
    • No e-mail message may be kept for greater than one year from it's addition to the file. After one year, e-mails are automatically deleted.
    • No e-mail message may be printed, saved, replicated, or other duplicated for the purposes of long-term storage. E-mails may be printed for normal day-to-day, but may not be filed in hardcopy format.
    • Laptop users may not replicate their e-mail files locally. All e-mail must be accessed online from the server.
    Of course, exceptions to these policies exist for groups with regulatory requirements for message retention, such as investment bankers. Additionally, customer interactions via e-mail are subject to a completely different set of rules - this is the just the ruleset for the average employee without much direct customer interaction.

    One of the largest drivers for these policies is to limit liability and exposure in the event of legal action. The goal here is not to eliminate messages (burn the evidence!), but to make backup and recovery feasible over the long-term. While an individual employee may not be able to keep an e-mail for more than one year, corporately we maintain backups of all e-mail messages for seven years. We are attempting to put reasonable limits in place to ensure that in the event an e-mail must be recovered for legal or regulatory reasons, it can be easily found and identified. We've also added additional technological measures to make this easier, such as using content-addressable storage for long-term archive of e-mail messages.

    This policy is an inconvience for many workers - 200 MB of e-mail goes pretty quick, especially when e-mail is the preferred medium for exchanging documents. This is has forced our employees to change the way they use e-mail, as well as to take better advantage of other systems that had become passé, such as our file and print system.

    If you are planning on putting limits such as these in place, make certain you communicate them well in advance. Provide your employees resources and guidance on how to best transition to the new policies, and offer tips on breaking bad e-mail habits.

    Overall, large corporations cannot afford the risk or the cost of storing gigabytes of e-mail for every employee. It's a tough road, but one that many companies appear to be taking. Best of luck with your endevours.
  • by bshroyer (21524) <bret.bretshroyer@org> on Monday March 06, 2006 @06:53PM (#14862522)
    I work for a Fortune 100 company, 30,00+ employees. Exchange/Outlook.

    Two years ago, we migrated from Lotus Notes to Exchange -- at the time of migration, we were informed, in no uncertain terms, that any email left on the server for more than 30 days would be automatically purged. If you want to keep it, back it up to a local fileserver, or to localhost. There is an option to retrieve auto-deleted email, but it's costed back to your department, so repeat offenders will likely be talking this over with a manager.

    The most common approach to managing the archive is to create an annual archive, and stuff everything in there during the year. At the next calendar flip, start a new archive. I've gone back to the 2004 archive a couple of times to retrieve stuff, but not often.

    Being forced to keep one's inbox cleaned out (nothing over 30 days old in there, or it gets wiped) is good practice - it's helped a lot of people to stay ahead of their inbox. Whereas I used to use the inbox for long-term storage, and touch a message four or five times, I now tend to touch it once: read it and then either delete it, file it, or copy into a new calendar/todo entry.

    The 30-day quota has worked very well for us.
  • by CAPSLOCK2000 (27149) on Monday March 06, 2006 @07:02PM (#14862601) Homepage
    You mention that mail is now being stored in .pst files. In my opinion that's a horrible solution.
    The nice thing about Exchange (I'll burn for using those five words in sequence) is that all your information is stored in one place. You can search and manage it from 1 interface and backups/full disks/etc are being dealt with by the system administrators.

    By using .pst files you basically hand over the archival of mail to the users. In a business where e-mail is an essential tool this seems unacceptable. All mail should stay on there corporate mail server.
    The size of the mailbox reveals the problem. It's not being used for mail, but for file storage. The only real solution to this is the education of you users. I know, dealing with users is one of the hardest parts of being a system administrator, but no technical solution will help you here (except for completly blocking attachments).

    Unfortunately training will only go so far. Nowadays it's normal to send 5mb Word documents around. Expecting users to choose a sensible fileformat, and reducing images to realistic resolutions is one bridge to far. So you'll still have to deal with many multi-megabyte mails.

    This is where the Exchange sucks parts comes into play. Exchange just isn't very good at dealing with huge mailboxes. When discussing mailbox limits the usual response seems to be "Yeah, we could add a few more disks, but we also need a much bigger server. The current machine can barely keep up with the load as it is".
  • First things first (Score:4, Insightful)

    by macdaddy (38372) on Monday March 06, 2006 @07:07PM (#14862634) Homepage Journal
    You have to write a up policy that upper management supports that clearly states that

    1) E-mail is not a file transfer protocol.
    2) Public folders (in the Microsoft Exchange sense) are not meant for use as a file server

    Next you have to get management to purchase a couple things:

    1) An on-demand e-mail archival solution. This product should integrate with your MUA (probably Outlook). The users should be able to locate and extract an archived email from the archival solution quickly and with minimal effort; otherwise the solution will not be utilized.
    2) A better spam filter. I'd be willing to bet that a large part of your mail store is spam. There is no auditing requirement to archive non-business-related e-mail. Can the spam.
    3) A web-based file-transfer/file-sharing solution. Since you're going to stop people from receiving large attachments via email (you are, aren't you?) you need to provide a method of transfer. One method is to use any of a hundred free or commercial trouble ticketing products like Request Tracker [bestpractical.com] or even Bugzilla [bugzilla.org] to create a secure way to transfer files between an external source and an internal employee by attaching files to an open and assigned ticket. There are numerous products out there that can satisfy this requirement, especially in these post-Sarbanes-Oxley/HIPAA/GLBA/etc times.

    Next up is to clean up the PST nigthmare. I was recently involved as a consultant in the IT department of a company about your size. Dozens of their users had reached the 2GB PST limit numerous times. Their PSTs were rotated out and they simply started a new PST. The old PSTs were of course opened automatically within Outlook. These PSTs were stored on the company's main file server in the users' home directories. At some point we eventually realized that all incoming mail was delivered straight to PST instead of the users' mail spools in the information store. The day after this one of our Windows admins happened to notice that the text of the users' home directories were blue. That's right; they were compressed. Whoops! As a temporary solution for a failing mail server the previous admin staff decided to deliver mail straight to PSTs. This of course became the long-term practice. Soon they ran low on disk space. To solve this the temporarily enabled compression on the single large volume that this Windows server served to the LAN. This too became the long-term solution. Uncompressed I want to say that the data was around 800GB. Compressed it was 450GB or so. The admin staff didn't tell management what was going on and to the best of my knowledge management didn't ask or simply thought all was well. Our Windows admins are still trying to clean up this mess and these are the best Windows guys I've ever met.

    Instigate policies that limit the amount of time received mail, sent items, deleted mail, drafts, etc are kept in the main inbox. A good archival solution should be able to mimick your policy in its config. Delete the deleted items daily. Dump the drafts every 2 weeks. Archive the sent items once a month. Archive the inbox every 3 months (quarterly, twice a year, whatever fits your needs).

    Above all you have to get management's support and backing. Without that your pissing in the wind. Some squeaky-wheel middle management person with a Napolean-complex will put the brakes on the whole thing if you don't have upper-management's support. To get this support show them in dollars how much it would cost to restore the entire PST collection if you had a SAN failure (you do have a SAN, don't you?). Show them how much time you spend each week restoring mailboxes of enourmous size. Show management auditing requirements and how you don't meet them with your current setup. There's a lot you can do. Best of luck.

    • by Ken D (100098)
      You're not going to get upper management's support for a policy like this.

      Excutives can't access your network and its file transfer solution from their laptop on a plane. They expect and NEED all the files that are referred to in emails, to be IN the mailbox that they have synchronized to their laptop.
  • by Bazouel (105242) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:38PM (#14864135)

    This macro will remove attachments from the current selection of mail items in Outlook. Pretty handy ...

    Sub RemoveAttachments()
    Dim selection As Outlook.selection

    Set selection = ThisOutlookSession.ActiveExplorer().selection

    Dim i As Integer
    Dim element As Object
    For i = 1 To selection.Count
    Set element = selection.Item(i)

    If TypeOf element Is Outlook.MailItem Then
    Dim mail As Outlook.MailItem
    Set mail = element

    Dim j As Integer

    For j = mail.Attachments.Count To 1 Step -1
    mail.Attachments.Remove (j)
    Next

    mail.Save
    End If
    Next
    End Sub

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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