I promised I would continue to report on a couple of situtations in which I have found the EDB and STM files have continued to grow in spite of the fact that users are reporting that they have been deleting mail from their mailboxes.
In another site, we found that examining the mailbox sizes in Exchange System Manager that the mailboxes were all relatively small, yet the store was very large.
On the limits property page, the deleted item cache was set to 7 days and the checkbox that tells Exchange not to purge deleted messages and deleted mailboxes until a full-backup has been run was checked. This was a clue.
Does it sounds like the online backup was not running? If you were thinking that, that is a good catch. I asked the system manager about whether the nightly backup was running and she said that it was running fine. Upon further investigation, though, I found that the database was on a NetApp Filer and the backup was run by the NetApp SnapShot Manager for Exchange. When running on Windows 2000 with Exchange 2000 or 2003, the database is not flagged as being successfully backed up after the snapshot.
So, Exchange online maintenance was not cleaning up the deleted items and deleted mailboxes. Once we cleared this checkbox, the deleted items began to be cleaned up, but it still took almost 2 weeks for the amount of deleted items to be cleaned up, though.
You can add an additional column to the Exchane System Manager's view of the mailbox store called Deleted Items (KB) that shows the size of deleted items that each mailbox owns. (These do not count against the user's storage limits.)
You can also view the total amount of space the store is using for deleted items using the Performance Monitor's Logs and Alerts System Monitor console. This counter is found under the MSExchangeMailbox object.