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Controlling Storage

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Posted: 16 Aug 2001
 

Current version: GroupWise 6

Looking for ideas about how to control burgeoning demand for GroupWise file storage space in your company? This is a problem faced by many GroupWise admins, and here are some solutions. If you have other ideas, please send them our way.

Note: In GroupWise 6 you will be able to set space limits on users, and when that limit is exceeded, the user is confronted with a wizard that helps them clean up.

Question:

We've got a pretty bad problem here in our corporation. We need to handle our storage area. Our only hope is to use some quotas for every user or department. Does anybody have an idea how to manage this?

Answer:

If you don't mind making enemies, you could use expire/reduce based on a size criteria. Use GWCheck/contents to see what size of mail people have overall.

OPEN CALL...We're sure there are other ingenious ways of doing this. Anyone out there got suggestions? Fire away.

Suggestions

Denise Storts

We had the same problem with Disk Space. Here is how we handled it. We made an E-mail Policy/Procedure. This policy/procedure stated that each individual would be allowed 40MB on the Mail Volume, it also stated other items, like the size of outgoing/incoming attachments would be limited, and that attachments would be kept on the system for a period of time. We started with 90 days, and kept whittling down, until we now keep 30 days, plus the current month.

The most important part was educating the "Staff". We published the new policy/procedure for 45 days and then implemented. The problem being that new employees will not know about the policy, that was quickly taken care of by putting a piece in the Weekly Broadcast. At first people were angry and just wanted us to add more disk space, however, when told that that was not an option, because of backup times, the grumbling went away. The most important thing is to be consistent and fair. There will always be exceptions to the rule, and those that need additional space have to request it in writing.

Hernán E. Delgado

What I did, is taking the information provided with GWCHECK statistics and with a little program I wrote, extract the info into a Foxpro database regarding # mails, MB of mails bodies, # attachments, and more important MB of the attachments. Unfortunately I cannot restrict with GW by now, but with this info you can easily deal with the users.

[Editor's Note: Hernán graciously agreed to send us his tool. Here it is. Use it to track or check the amount of space taken for the users in either mail and attachments. Definitely try this on a test server first. He has included a ReadMe file which you should, of course, read.]

Emmerson Greene

This is how I dealt with the problem.

I set the automatic archive to 60 days. The Archive automatically points to the J: drive (the user's own personal area), and this area is restricted to 50Mb.

An e-mail was sent out to users making them aware of the automatic archive. We also informed them how to clean up their archive and what would happen if their archive exceeded 50Mb.

When help calls came through regarding out of disk space errors, we reminded the users to clean up their archive. Any users who could justify a need for a larger archive were granted more space on their J: drive.

If you have any questions you may contact Emmerson at egreene@northamptonshire.gov.uk

Corey Reynolds

In our company, we have the following policy:

E-Mail messages should be deleted within a reasonable time after they are sent or received. The OutBox, InBox and Trash items features of each employee's E-Mail should not become cluttered with retained messages. Among other things, this uses unnecessary memory and disk space.

We have set up a special GW account, with proxy access to all users, that hosts all of the shared folders, and each project has a shared folder. Users can dump messages they think are worth keeping into the shared folders as required. Then we can easily archive the messages onto CD by project when each job is complete, since all the e-mail is in one place! Burning CD's is way cheaper than adding more SCSI HD's to a server.

Our shared user currently has e-mail totalling over 860MB, which can be archived as required by the network admins. E-mail that is deemed extremely critical is printed and put in the correspondence file.

With the GWCHECK usage report in hand, I have sat down with users who have enormous e-mail databases and discussed ways to deal with the problem. One way is showing the user how to setup automatic e-mail cleanup after so many days. This is NOT a forced setting through NWAdmin. Most agree that if an e-mail has been sitting in their inbox/outbox for over, say 120 days, and it hasn't been dumped into a shared folder, then it probably isn't worth keeping.

If we need to retreive deleted e-mail because of impending litigation or some other impending doom, we do have things backed up on tape.

The most important thing is to have a policy in writing, and make sure each employee signs off that they have read, understood, and agree to the conditions of that policy.

Charles-Antoine Masset

I have made some research on what was causing space problems on our e-mail servers. Hope this help other admins.

The stats:

I found the following figures:

  • 80 % of the space is taken by approximately 20 % of the users.
  • 80 % of the space is taken by attachments
  • 80 % of the space of the attachments is taken by attachments bigger than 100 K.
  • Size doubles every 6 months.
  • E-mails with attachments average size doubles approximately every year.
  • Many mails are private mails, and they are often the biggest.

The background:

Our problem as administrator is to keep the system as small as possible, but we know (from our user experience) about disk / memory / backup speed and capacity evolution, so we can't imagine just to limit at xx Gb forever.

When looking at numbers, we see that attachments are the problem. Small mails are not a problem, and the interest of the information is not related to its size. Users should understand that the consequence of having too many e-mails is that the mailbox isn't efficient anymore.

The past:

We started with a 60 day auto-cleaning, but this caused too much "restore from tape" and hours of archive/unarchive game to restore individuals e-mails. Moreover, new users don't go to the "introduction course", so they don't know that they will lose mails, until the day they actually do. And some of these are top managers... ... so we stopped.

The solution:

I have scheduled a weekly automatic report (analyze / check content) based on attachments bigger than 100 K.

That created a text file (except that EOL are "0D" rather than "0D0A").

I made a VB script that saves all reports from all servers from my admin mailbox, converts them in ASCII, summarizes the amount of mails per users, and sends a mail to all users with mailboxes bigger than 100 Mb (parameter).

I know I could have got the mailbox size from the report itself, but I considered that small mails don't cause problems to the system but to the user himself. My concern is to kill the unneeded big mails.

The script also sends a report to the helpdesk and myself with all user names and mailbox sizes.

The consequence:

We were able to stabilize under 50 Gb during 2 months (when I started this weekly warning. Note that the warning is sent to about 10% of the users: the ones above 100 Mb). Now we are back to the same situation (over 50 Gb), and we are discussing about setting a lower limit to reach more users, and having a special discussion to the top ten users (1/5) of the total size.

Other ideas:

  • A missing feature from the "expire/reduce" is: "older than AND bigger than". That could give a way to kill old attachments.
  • We can also kill old attachments by "just" deleting files in "offilesxx" directories, but this will give a hard time to of checks to validate lost attachments. I know a place where they do this. And as attachments are bigger and bigger we delete only the smallest files.
  • Size limit on gateway is good, but in our case we must accept any type of mails, for legal reasons.
  • Having an auto-archive just moves and speeds up the problem, because of the way mails are shared. A 1 Mb shared with 1000 users will use 1 Mb in a PO and 1 Gb in 1000 archives.
  • Using GW document management is also nice to avoid duplication of mails with different versions of the same attachments, but it is often refused by managers because of GW propriatary database.

Daniel Schutterop

We used to have the same storage problem with GroupWise, caused by the many attachments people used to receive. After we installed Guinevere (http://www.gwava.com/) we configured attachment blocking for graphical files, executables and such. We have saved about 2 Gigs of disk space last year and it's still up and running.


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