by Jason Haifley
As an administrator, the policies you set on your Exchange
system are key to keeping things manageable. Several areas
where you need to have clearly defined policies are: size
limits, distribution list structure, public folder structure
and virus protection. If you are lucky, this was already
accomplished before the system grew too large. On the other
hand, if you are not so lucky, you have a nice mess to clean
up before you can call your system organized. This first
article will deal with size limits.
As an administrator, the policies you set on your Exchange system are key to keeping things manageable. Several areas where you need to have clearly defined policies are: size limits, distribution list structure, public folder structure and virus protection.
MS Exchange Server is an extremely flexible mail system
that allows you to set limits on a number of items. I highly
recommend using them — even if you have tons of bandwidth and
disk space (and who does?), your users could get a little too
used to the freedom and may revolt if you need to apply limits
later. Exchange allows you to limit an individual’s mailbox
size, public folder size, and send/receive message size.
Let’s face facts, users are packrats when it comes to their
e-mail. I don’t know why they need that message from their
Uncle Bob that was dated two years ago, but they swear they
do. If not controlled, their box can swell to enormous
proportions. Add all your users together and your Private
Information Store just seems to get bigger and bigger and
bigger. Some will claim that disk space is cheap and you can
just add more space. Well, you have to backup all this mail.
If something happens, you also have to restore it.
So, it is obvious that we need limits on box sizes, but the
big issue is: what should that limit be? Well, that’s why
you’re called the Administrator… Actually you have to
consider several things, like 1) How much disk space do you
have available, 2) How much can you actually add, and 3) How
long can your backups and restores take?
I have seen several companies limit users to 30-75 MB each.
Unfortunately the system I administer places a limit of 300
MB. (It was that way when I started, and I didn’t feel like
getting lynched by trying to change it.) Of course, executives
get bigger boxes because they sign your checks. Salespeople
always seem to hoard mail, especially ones with big
attachments, so they may need special consideration as well.
What you really need to do is set limits and educate your
users on how to keep their boxes organized.
Mailbox limits can be set at the server level and also at
the user level. There are three limits to set: Issue Warning,
Prohibit Send, and Prohibit Send and Receive. This tiered
approach allows the user to know when he or she has reached
the limit, and then encourages him/her to get the box under
control by first denying send privileges and then, if
necessary, denying send and receive privileges.
Public Folders have the same size problems as individual’s
mailboxes, so the same concepts apply. You can set limits on a
server and per folder basis. Setting age limits will do
wonders for keeping box sizes under control.
Another limit you should consider
is message size. This can be limited in both the MTA and
connectors, such as the IMC. Your biggest consideration when
applying this limit is available bandwidth. If your queues get
backed-up because a user is e-mailing his entire mp3
collection, it is definitely time to look at size limits.
Although I believe that placing these limits are essential
in any Exchange organization, it is also important to provide
alternatives for your users. You need to educate them on
keeping their boxes organized and clean. Explain auto-archive
and .PST files, and tell them how do save attachments to disk
and then delete them from their mail. For transferring large
attachments, set up an FTP server for your users.
Remember that properly thought out policies on your
Exchange system will do wonders for keeping your stress level
down. And the earlier you impose them, the faster your users
will come to tolerate them. In my next article, I will discuss
Distribution List and Public Folder