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Open Conversation: Limiting E-mail and Mailbox Sizes

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Posted: 24 Oct 2006


A Forum reader recently asked:

"I am calling on everyone in the community to please give me feedback on what restrictions you have in place on your GroupWise system for the following:

GWIA: In bound e-mail - maximum size
GWIA: Out bound e-mail - maximum size
POA: Internal e-mail - maximum size
GroupWise accounts: Mailbox size restrictions
Auto Archiving policy

I am desperate to put restrictions in place but have company directors/management making the following sweeping statements:

  • No companies put these types of restrictions in place
  • !
  • This will hamper productivity!
  • Give us conclusive proof of what restrictions get applied in other companies!

I need to give a presentation to the board of directors to convince them that restrictions are a GOOD thing, and that e-mailing a 300 + mb file is a BAD idea!

And here are a number of helpful responses - feel free to add your own!


Joseph Marton
At the GWIA we actually don't put a restriction, but instead put restrictions for attachment size using GWGuardian which sits in the DMZ in front of GWIA. There the max attachment size is set for 16MB, which means you actually can't send anything larger than 12MB. (During transmission file sizes actually grow in size by approximately 33%.) This is for both inbound and outbound e-mail.

Internally, we have no restrictions at the POA level or for the mailboxes.

I brought something like this up recently in the CDW Advisory Board. The response there was that people seem to generally limit the attachment size or the mailbox size. Very few people have no limits whatsoever. Also, as away around the attachment size thing, some people have an FTP server that they use to exchange files with clients that are too large for e-mail. This way you don't restrict the flow of information yet keep the e-mail system from getting clogged. I like that idea, and we're having the company attorney look into the compliance end of things, should we decide to implement the FTP scenario. For now, though, if an attachment is too large I say split it up into multiple files.

(Marc Porter)
We limit attachment sizes to 10MB to/from the Internet, with no internal restrictions. We also limit mailbox sizes to 100MB. Because attachments are what take up the most space, we focus a lot of end user training on other ways of dealing with file transfer. 99% of file transfers are internal, so shared drive mappings to shared storage deals with most of those issues. In the rare case that a large attachment needs to be emailed from the outside, we usually have it sent to an admin account with no restriction - then it can be forwarded internally with no restriction.

(Dennis St. James)
I have a 10MB restriction through GWAVA sitting at the MTA level. We have an FTP site to transfer larger files. I still always getting complaints from people that it blocks things. I can't put size restrictions on individual mailboxes - the prevailing solution is to just buy a new server with more hard drive space, but that's just a stop gap and not a long term solution.

(Edward VanderMaas)
Companies do put in restrictions - the bigger the company, the tighter the policy, generally. It all comes down to managebility. A post office of 300 GB can't be backed up properly anymore. Would management agree if you say that you can only create 1 backup per week because it takes 40 hours to back up the system?

What if you have such a huge system, and you need to restore it? The bigger the system, the longer it will take. If management is happy for you to take 3 or 4 days to restore it and get things back up and running again, then they are still missing e-mail, since you only can make 1 backup per week because of the backup window.

I think I don't have to tell you what happens when you have to tell a director that his/her e-mail is unavailable for 5 days due to a crash.

E-mail (in general) has never been designed to email around 300Mb attachments. People these days though don't know how to use a network anymore. You share files on a network and not via an e-mail system. This is becoming more and more of an issue, though.

(Uwe Buckesfeld)
We have no size restriction on messages at all. We indeed found that even IT companies have no problem sending us 300MB attachments. We do have a strict limit on mailbox sizes, though. So if people receive a large attachment, they'll hurry to get it out of the mailbox in order to be able to send again.

(Matt Merrell)
At my agency, we limit attachments to 20MB in size (which is a State standard), and we limit mailbox size to 200MB. We also have a manditory 30 day auto-delete of all read but un-reopened email.

We are a company of 145-ish employees. Before instituting this policy, our GroupWise system size was a whopping 40GBs! Same employees, new policy: GroupWise system size of 8.5GBs on average. Other State agencies with larger staff sizes (i.e., 3000+ employees) are limiting their mailbox sizes to 10MBs! If they don't, they can't backup/restore/repair their email systems in a reasonable time space.

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