Exchange Server 2010 – Shrink Database Size – OR – Reclaim Lost Database Storage Space

As mentioned in a previous post, if you’re Email Server is running out of hard drive space and you’re in a world of hurt, there are several steps you must take to get that space back. Even if you have your user’s tidy up their mailbox and you force delete out their RecoveryItems folders, you will essentially be creating free whitespace to store more messages but the size of your database will never shrink below it’s current state. To actually shrink size of the database file, you will have to do the following:

  1. Have the end users get rid of all their unimportant emails and empty their Deleted Items folder.
  2. Purge all of the user’s RecoveryItems folders. To learn how, read this.
  3. Either create a new mailbox database, mount it, move all the mailboxes to it, then dismount and delete the old database

    — OR —
    Dismount the databases and run the defrag utility

Either way, both scenarios are extremely time consuming so get your blanket and sun tan lotion because you’re never getting off that beach, just the way you never got into the NHL, ya jackass!
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Exchange Server 2010 – Purge the Deleted Items (RecoverableItems) Folder

Being the devoted Email Administrator that you are, you notice that the space for storing mailboxes on your Exchange Server is getting dangerously low, so you decide to take action. Logically, your first thought would be to have all your end users go through all the folders in their mailbox and get rid of any junk they don’t need and then empty their “Deleted Items” folder to regain the space back. After all, in most cases there really is no reason for users to keep every single email they’ve ever sent and received since the beginning of time (which a lot of them tend to do and I’ll never understand why).

Unfortunately, as you’ve probably already noticed, that is not the case. Simply having a user empty their “Deleted Items” folder has no effect on the database size whatsoever. This is partially due to the nifty feature that allows users to be able to recover deleted messages after they’ve already emptied their trash. By default, Exchange keeps deleted items for 14 days until they are purged, so now it is necessary to manually force the deletion of these items.
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