Exchange Server 5.5 Mailbox Manager overview

Retired KB Content Disclaimer

This article was written about products for which Microsoft no longer offers support. Therefore, this article is offered "as is" and will no longer be updated.


This article contains an overview of Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 Mailbox Manager.

More Information

What is Mailbox Manager?

Mailbox Manager is an add-on for Exchange Server 5.5 that administrators can use to manage items in different mailbox folders. You can determine what messages you want to delete, and then use Mailbox Manager to set rules that specify how old you want messages to be when they are deleted and how frequently you want old messages to be deleted. You can also set Mailbox Manager to generate reports when it deletes messages, and you can set exclusions for types of messages and mailbox folders that you do not want Mailbox Manager to process.

In versions of Exchange Server that are earlier than Exchange Server 5.5 Service Pack 3 (SP3), this tool is named the Mailbox Cleanup Agent. In Exchange Server 5.5 SP3, many improvements and more flexibility were added to this tool. Therefore, if there is a problem with your installation of the Mailbox Cleanup Agent, first try to install Mailbox Manager instead of the Mailbox Cleanup Agent.

Overview of Mailbox Manager features

Mailbox Manager implements corporate e-mail message retention policies. Mailbox Manager features include:
  • Configuration flexibility. You can set Mailbox Manager to delete messages by age, by folder size, by message type, and by other parameters.
  • Automation. You can create a weekly schedule that specifies when Mailbox Manager deletes messages from Exchange Server mailboxes.
  • Report generation. You can request that detailed reports of message removal and other Mailbox Manager activities be logged and sent to administrators.

How Mailbox Manager works

Mailbox Manager works by implementing message deletion policies. A policy is a set of rules that determines whether a message is retained or deleted. For example, you can use Mailbox Manager to implement rules such as the following:
  • Delete all the messages that are more than 5 days old from users' Inboxes.
  • Delete all the messages that are older than 20 days, except Calendar items and Contact items.
  • Set a retention limit of 30 days on Inbox folders and 45 days on all other folders.
  • Allow users in the Marketing recipient container to retain their messages for 20 days, but allow users in the Temporary Staff recipient container to keep their messages for only 5 days.
  • Delete messages larger than 1 megabyte (MB) after 10 days.
  • Allow users a 3-day grace period before their messages are permanently deleted.
For additional information about the way that Mailbox Manager processes items, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

258758 Understanding how and when Mailbox Manager processes items


General planning

You can install Mailbox Manager on any server in an Exchange Server site, or on multiple servers in the site. Each instance of Mailbox Manager maintains its own policy information, and you must configure each instance individually. Mailbox Manager can delete messages in mailboxes that do not reside on the server that Mailbox Manager is installed on.

Multiple server environment planning

When the Exchange Server site is made up of multiple Exchange Server computers, you can install Mailbox Manager on one, more than one, or all of the servers.

Planning to install Mailbox Manager on a single Exchange Server 5.5 computer

If Mailbox Manager is installed on one server, that instance of Mailbox Manager is responsible for deleting messages on all the servers in a site. From a maintenance standpoint, this configuration is the simplest. One server contains the message deletion policy for the whole site. However, this configuration requires that Mailbox Manager gain access to mailboxes on servers across local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN) links. In this configuration, Mailbox Manager might create lots of traffic while Mailbox Manager is implementing the policy.

Planning to install Mailbox Manager on multiple Exchange Server 5.5 computers

You can reduce network traffic by installing Mailbox Manager on multiple servers in the site and configuring each instance of Mailbox Manager to gain access to only those mailboxes that are physically saved on the same server. However, this configuration requires that each instance of Mailbox Manager be configured with an appropriate deletion policy. Users must make sure that message deletion policies are not contradictory, and that individual mailboxes are not targeted by more than one policy.

Setup and installation

Setup includes two parts: creating the Mailbox Manager account and setting up Mailbox Manager.

Replacing the Mailbox Cleanup Agent

Mailbox Manager replaces the Mailbox Cleanup Agent (Mbclean.exe) that is part of the Microsoft BackOffice Resource Kit, Second Edition. If you previously installed the Mailbox Cleanup Agent, its policy settings are reset when you install Mailbox Manager. Mailbox Manager and the Mailbox Cleanup Agent can coexist in the same Exchange Server site, but not on the same Exchange Server computer. If the Mailbox Cleanup Agent was installed on the server, you must remove the Mailbox Cleanup Agent before you install Mailbox Manager. Remove the Mailbox Cleanup Agent by running the original Setup program, and then choose the Remove option.

Creating the Mailbox Manager Service Account

Mailbox Manager uses a Microsoft Windows NT service. You must select or create an account for this service to use. The Service Account password cannot be blank or contain alternative characters (for example, letters that include accent marks such as when used in foreign languages). This account must have administrator permissions for the Exchange Server site where you want to install Mailbox Manager. Most of the time, it is good to use the Windows NT account that you used for the other Exchange Server services because that account automatically has Service Account Administrator permissions for the site. The account that you select must have Windows NT Log On As Service user rights. If you have not already assigned the account this user right, the Mailbox Manager Setup program assigns the account this user right for you.

However, if Mailbox Manager is installed on a backup domain controller (BDC), you receive the following informational message after you provide the service account name and password:
Microsoft Exchange Server Mailbox Manager setup was unable to assign the service account the Log on as Service right because this machine is acting as a Backup Domain Controller for your network. Please use the Windows NT User Manager to confirm that the Microsoft Exchange Server Mailbox Manager service account has the Log on as Service right.
This behavior is expected. When the Mailbox Manager Setup program is run on a BDC, it cannot assign privileges to the account that is used as the service account. The message in this section is a reminder to verify that the service account correctly has the Log On As A Service right.

Installing Mailbox Manager

When you run the Microsoft Exchange Mailbox Manager Setup program, both the i386 version and the Alpha version of the Extension DLL are installed. If you are installing Mailbox Manager from the Exchange Server 5.5 SP3 CD-ROM, run the Setup program from the following folder:

On the FTP site, these files are separated into different self-extracting executables that can be found at the following location:

The file that contains the Setup files for the Mailbox Manager is SP3_55ss.exe. After the files are extracted, the path is Language\Server\Support\Mbmngr\Setup\Platform. From this folder, run the Setup program.

Mailbox Manager is also located in the same folder in the Exchange Server 5.5 SP4 files. Run the Setup program, and then follow the instructions in the wizard. For additional information about the Mailbox Manager Setup program, see the Microsoft Exchange Server Mailbox Manager User's Guide that is located in the same folder as the Mailbox Manager Setup files.


To configure Mailbox Manager:
  1. Start the Exchange Server Administrator program.
  2. Locate the site that Mailbox Manager is installed in.
  3. Click the Configuration object for that site.
  4. Click Add-Ins.
  5. Click Mailbox Manager for server_name in the right pane. In this step, server_name is the name of the server that Mailbox Manager is installed on.
All the configuration tabs for Mailbox Manager are optional except the mandatory Policies tab. You can configure the options in any order.


Implementing policy

Mailbox Manager maintains two types of policy rules:
  • Policy rules that apply to all affected mailboxes regardless of recipient container
  • Policy rules that apply only to mailboxes in a particular recipient container
Mailbox Manager also maintains a list of mailboxes to explicitly exclude from automated message deletion. Mailbox Manager runs the different parts of a policy in the following order:
  • If the mailbox is on the Excluded Mailbox list, that mailbox is exempt from additional processing.
  • Mailbox Manager processes the Deleted Items folder and the System Cleanup folder first. Messages that are older than the specified age limits for these folders are deleted immediately. Message age is the only relevant criterion; Mailbox Manager ignores message size limits and message class exclusions when it processes the Deleted Items folder and the System Cleanup folder.
  • Mailbox Manager examines the rest of the folders in turn and evaluates whether each folder will be processed. Message size limits apply to all the folders in a mailbox except the Deleted Items folder and the System Cleanup folder.
  • In folders that will be processed, Mailbox Manager examines each message. If the message class is in the Excluded Message Classes list, the message is retained.

    Note If an administrator does not want a contacts folder to be scanned and a user has a subfolder of contacts under the parent contacts folder, that subfolder is cleaned when Mailbox Manager runs. To prevent Mailbox Manager from cleaning subfolders under excluded parent folders, exclude the message class, because that exclusion applies to folders and subfolders. For additional information, see the "Message Classes" topic in the “General Policies" section.
  • In folders that will be processed, if a message size limit is set, Mailbox Manager checks the size and age of each message. Oversized messages that are older than the threshold age are deleted.
  • In folders that will be processed, if the message is older than the age limit for that folder, the message is deleted.

General policies

General policies apply to all the recipient containers that you select.

Message Classes

You can use the Message Classes option to exclude certain message classes from deletion. For example, you might not want Mailbox Manager to delete any Contacts, regardless of the age or size of the Contact item. To exclude a message class:
  1. Click Message Classes.
  2. In the Message Classes dialog box, type the name of the class that you want to exclude, and then click Add every time.
The standard message classes are: IPM.Note (mail message), IPM.Appointment, IPM.Task, IPM.Contact, IPM.Activity (journal entry), IPM.Post, IPM.StickyNote (note), IPM.Distlist (distribution list). For example, if you do not want to delete Contacts or Calendar items, add IPM.Contact and IPM.Appointment to the Excluded Message Classes list.

You can also exclude message classes and their subclasses by using a wildcard character. For example, if you exclude "IPM.MyClass.*", Mailbox Manager excludes all the classes that start with IPM.MyClass. If you want to exclude all the standard contact items and all the custom message classes that are derived from the standard contact class, add "IPM.Contact.*" to the list of excluded message classes. If you do not use a wildcard character, Mailbox Manager only searches for a match for a message class. By default, no message classes are excluded.

Message Size Limits

You can use message size limits to limit the lifetime of a message based on its size and age (in days). For example, you can configure Mailbox Manager to delete all the messages that are larger than 250 kilobytes (KB) after 10 days. If you apply a message size limit, the length of time that it takes for Mailbox Manager to process a mailbox might dramatically increase. The default settings are 1,024 KB and 30 days. If you set the number of days to zero, oversize messages are deleted immediately.

Per-Container Policies

Per-container policies apply on a per-container basis. This kind of policy includes Excluded Mailboxes and Folder Age Limits policies.

Excluded Mailboxes

Use the Excluded Mailboxes dialog box to select mailboxes that you want to exclude from automated message deletion. By default, no mailboxes are excluded. Note: Mailbox Manager may not detect hidden mailboxes in the list of mailboxes that are displayed. This issue may occur if Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) is disabled. Mailbox Manager uses LDAP to query the directory to build the list of recipients. To view hidden mailboxes, make sure that the LDAP Protocol is enabled.

Folder Age Limits

You can specify the deletion time period for the items in a particular folder. The default for this interval is 30 days. If you set the interval to 0 days, all the messages in that folder are deleted each time that you run Mailbox Manager.

The Other Folders option sets the age limit for all folders other than those folders that you specifically list in the dialog box. All subfolders, including subfolders of the listed folders, belong to this category. For example, a subfolder of the Inbox folder does not take its age limit from its parent folder, Inbox, but from the Other Folders value. However, the age limit for the System Cleanup Folders applies to the System Cleanup folder and all its subfolders. By default, there are no age limits set on any folder when Mailbox Manager is installed.

Use Parent Container Settings

When the Use Parent Container Settings check box is selected, recipient containers that are subordinate to another container assume the message deletion policy of the parent recipient container. This inheritance of parent container settings is not dynamic. The parent container's policy information is copied to its child containers when you click Apply or OK. If you create a new recipient container, there is no configuration information associated with the new recipient container until you run the Exchange Server Administrator program. When you run the Exchange Server Administrator program, the new recipient container inherits the configuration of its parent container.


On the Schedule tab, you can specify the time that Mailbox Manager performs the mailbox cleanup according to settings on the Policy tab. The time is the local server time of the server that is running Mailbox Manager (not the local time of the server that is running the Exchange Server Administrator program). The default setting is Saturday at 12:00 midnight.

Clean Now

The Clean Now option runs the current mailbox cleanup policy within thirty seconds after you click Clean Now. Clicking Clean Now does not affect the preset schedule, as set on the Schedule tab. Mailbox Manager still runs at the set time. If you change your policy settings and then click Clean Now, you are prompted to save your changes by clicking Apply before Mailbox Manager can continue. The Clean Now button is unavailable (appears dimmed) if you are a read-only Administrator.

Starting and Stopping the Service

You can stop the Mailbox Manager service from the Window NT Service Control Manager. If you stop the Mailbox Manager service while Mailbox Manager is processing mailboxes, Mailbox Manager starts its next processing run where it left off. To force Mailbox Manager to perform a complete run after Mailbox Manager has been interrupted, delete the ProcessedMailboxes.txt file from the Mailbox Manager installation folder.

Scheduling issues to consider

There are several factors that you must consider when you are determining the mailbox maintenance schedule:
  • The quantity of message traffic that the server processes at a given time.
  • Business requirements for server space. You can clean mailboxes as frequently as you like. By default, mailbox cleanup occurs one time a week.
  • The message retention requirements of the users, and the level of voluntary compliance of those users with mailbox limits.
  • The larger the number of messages that a policy targets, the longer it takes to run the policy.
When you select a mailbox maintenance schedule, weigh the benefits of running Mailbox Manager frequently against the effect that the run cycle will have on system performance.


You can use the Notification tab to specify that Mailbox Manager inform users (by using e-mail messages) when Mailbox Manager scans the users' mailboxes for messages that violate the policy as set on the Policies tab, and inform users when Mailbox Manager deletes those messages that violate the policy. You can set the content of the notification message. By default, user notification is enabled, and all affected users are notified. If the Run Mode is set to Audit, Mailbox Manager does not send notifications to users.

Use the Notify User check box to specify whether Mailbox Manager sends notification messages to users. You can use the Header, Body, and Footer options to customize the notification message. The default header text is:
The Microsoft Exchange Server Mailbox Manager has performed an automated cleanup of your mailbox.
The body of the message is automatically generated by Mailbox Manager and is made up of one line for each affected folder, for example:
23 Items were moved from the Inbox folder to the Deleted Items folder.

12 Items were moved from the Inbox\Subfolder to the Deleted Items folder.

10 Items were deleted from the Deleted Items folder.
There is no default footer text. You may want to add text, for example:
Thank you for your future voluntary compliance with corporate e-mail deletion policies!

Server selection

Mailbox Manager can delete messages from mailboxes that are stored locally (on the same server as Mailbox Manager) in addition to from mailboxes that are stored on other servers. You can use the Server Selection tab to select the servers in the site that you want this instance of Mailbox Manager to process. By default, only mailboxes on the local server are processed; if you do not select a server, the mailboxes on that server are not processed. Click Select All to select all the servers in the site. Click Clear All to clear all the servers in the site.


On the Advanced tab, you can set the level of detail in the reports and logs that Mailbox Manager generates. This section describes the types of reporting and logging that are available, and how to use that information for effective mailbox management. Mailbox Manager generates three types of reporting information:
  • Trace log files
  • Entries in the Windows NT event log
  • Reports mailed to the administrator
All these reports contain common information, such as the time that Mailbox Manager started, the time at which it finished, the number of messages that it moved, and other information. The trace log files and event log files might contain detailed information, depending on the Logging Level setting. The administrative reports are intended to give a broad overview of the operations of Mailbox Manager.

Note: When you configure Microsoft Exchange Mailbox Manager to generate reports, the reports do not take single instancing of messages into account. The size of messages in the report or event logs might be greater than the size of the private information store.

For additional information about Mailbox Manager logging, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

244586 Mailbox Manager logging levels in Exchange Server

How Mailbox Manager marks excluded mailboxes

When you use Mailbox Manager, it "marks" mailboxes with special entry on the E-mail addresses tab to indicate what mailboxes are excluded from cleanup and what mailboxes are not. This entry is not added if the mailbox is not added to the Excluded Mailboxes list. If you include a mailbox in the Excluded Mailboxes list, an MBX entry with a value of "1" is added to the E-mail addresses tab of that mailbox. If you then remove the mailbox from the Excluded Mailboxes list, the MBX value is not removed, but is set to a value of "0." Because of this, some mailboxes have no MBX address, some have an MBX address with a value of "1," and some have an MBX address with a value of "0," for example:
  • You install Mailbox Manager, but you do not add mailboxes to the Excluded Mailboxes list. There is no change to the E-mail addresses tab on the mailboxes.
  • You add mailbox A to the excluded mailboxes. An MBX entry is added to mailbox A's E-mail addresses tab with a value of "1."
  • You remove mailbox A from the excluded mailboxes. The MBX entry remains on mailbox A's E-mail addresses tab, but the value is set to "0."
Note that you can only add MBX entries to mailboxes by using Mailbox Manager. If you try to add MBX entries either manually or by using directory import, you receive the following error message:
This e-mail address already exists in this organization

Article ID: 305109 - Last Review: Jun 19, 2014 - Revision: 1