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Best practices for GFI Archiver

In order to achieve optimal performance for GFI Archiver, it is recommended to follow the best practices below:
 
General
 
  • It is recommended to use Microsoft SQL as a database backend. If you do not have a full Microsoft SQL Server license and process only a small amount of emails each month, you can download and use Microsoft SQL Server Express for free from the Microsoft website. Avoid using Firebird in a production environment.
  • In order to decrease the amount of unnecessary emails being archived by GFI Archiver, it is recommended to eliminate spam emails before they are archived by GFI Archiver. Reducing the amount of emails archived by GFI Archiver increases the overall performance for GFI Archiver. This can be done using one of the following options:
    • Configure your Anti-Spam product to delete spam emails before they reach the users mailboxes. In doing so, the emails would not be journaled by Microsoft Exchange Server, and would therefore not be archived by GFI Archiver.
    • If using GFI MailEssentials create a Spam Policy within GFI Archiver (via Configuration > Retention and Spam Policies).
    • Configure your Anti-Spam product to tag emails which have been detected as spam, and configure Retention Policies (via Configuration > Retention and Spam Policies) in GFI Archiver to delete tagged emails instead of archiving them.
    • NOTE: Only emails archived by GFI Archiver after the retention policy has been created are affected. Emails which were archived before the retention policy was created will not be associated with the policy until the Retroactive Retention feature is run.
  • The main bottleneck for GFI Archiver is hard disk performance. The amount of activity generated on the hard disk depends on the amount of emails stored in the Archive Stores, and how many users are accessing their emails. Hard disk activity is also affected by the number of GFI Archiver Outlook Connectors that are installed in your network and Mailbox Folder Structure Retrieval.
  • It is recommended to run GFI Archiver, Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Exchange on different servers; esp. for larger installations.
  • If GFI Archiver, Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SQL Server are all installed on the same machine, the following scenarios explain the best disk structure to be used by GFI Archiver:
  • Scenario 1: GFI Archiver and Microsoft Exchange Server on the same machine with 4 disks
    • Disk 1 = Operating System and GFI Archiver installation
    • Disk 2 = Microsoft Exchange Server
    • Disk 3 = GFI Archiver Indexes
    • Disk 4 = GFI Archiver Database Files (Microsoft SQL Server or Firebird) and Binary Files
    • Note: If 4 disks are not available, it is recommended to have GFI Archiver Indexes to be stored onto a different disk, other than the database files.
  • Scenario 2: GFI Archiver with 3 disks
    • Disk 1 = Operating System and GFI Archiver installation
    • Disk 2 = Microsoft Exchange Server
    • Disk 3 = GFI Archiver Indexes and Database Files (Microsoft SQL Server) and Binary Files
  • In order to improve the performance of the Hard disk, it is recommended to enable ‘Write caching on the disk’ feature’. This can be enabled from the following:
  1. Open ‘My Computer’ 
  2. Right click on the Disk which is storing the GFI Archiver Databases / Index or Binary Files and select ‘Properties 
  3. Click on the ‘Hardware’ tab, select the Disk and then select ‘Properties’ 
  4. Click on the ‘Policies’ tab and tick ‘Enable write caching on the disk’ 
  5. Click ‘OK’ to save changes
    • If you are using more than one disk as described above, you will need to perform the procedure above for each disk which is involved in GFI Archiver processing. 
    • Should you be using Hard-disk Array which performs write caching at hardware level, do not enable the feature above
  • Drive, folder or file compression should not be enabled on the following location(s):
    • GFI Archiver installation directory
    • Binary and index folders
    • Microsoft SQL Server directory
    • The "Windows" folder
    • The "Program Files" or "Program Files (x86)" folders
  • If you are using the GFI Archiver Outlook Connector, you can help reduce the load on the GFI Archiver by deploying the following settings via a GPO:
    • Increasing the synchronization interval from 5 minutes to 15 minutes or higher
    • Disabling Offline Mode (if it is needed for laptops, create and scope another GPO to enable offline mode only laptops which benefit from it)
  • Ensure antivirus software is not scanning GFI directories and that exclusions are configured properly
  • Consider the following index related settings
    • Disabling attachment indexing will reduce the system resources used for indexing significantly
    • Reducing the indexing interval can have a positive effect on the system load (Configuration > Archive Stores > Index Management)
  • Do not enable the Folder Structure Retrieval feature until all historical emails for all users were imported into GFI Archiver
  • Do not enable features unless they are required (e.g. Folder Structure Retrieval or the IMAP server)
  • Additional guidelines can be found in the Smart Guide which is available from: http://go.gfi.com/?pageid=MAR_DownloadDocumentation
Microsoft SQL Server
  • It is recommended to use a shorter Archive Store Schedule (e.g. monthly) compared to a longer schedule (e.g. yearly)
  • The recommended Archive Store type is: Microsoft SQL Server + File Storage (Binary folder)
  • The recommended maximum file size of an Microsoft SQL Server database of a full-SQL Archive Store should not exceed 40GB
  • The recommended Autogrowth settings are 100MB for the Data Files and 10MB for the Transaction Logs
  1. Open the Microsoft Management Console
  2. Expand Databases, right click on the GFI Archiver Database and select ‘Properties’
  3. Click on the ‘Files’ node
  4. Click the ‘…’ button under Autogrowth for the data file type and set this to 100 in Megabytes. Click ‘OK’ to save changes
  5. Click the ‘…’ button under Autogrowth for the Log file type and set this to 10 in Megabytes. Click ‘OK’ to save changes.
  • Configure a weekly maintenance task on the Microsoft SQL Server to do the following on the GFI Archiver database:
    • Check database integrity
    • Rebuild the index
    • Shrink the database
  • As per Microsoft KB Article ID 2033523"SQL Performance is typically enhanced if you place database and transaction log files on separate drives (preferably separate physical drives)."
  • Although not required, we recommend hosting database files on LAN-based servers and not on servers that are being accessed over a WAN link at another facility
GFI Archiver (Firebird) Database
 
  • The GFI Archiver (Firebird) Database is to be used for product evaluation only - if using Firebird from a legacy installation start using SQL going forward and consider reimporting existing Firebird based Archive Stores into Microsoft SQL Server based Archive Stores.
  • The recommended maximum file size should not exceed 2GB or 300,000 emails.
  • Run disk defragmentation software on a weekly (or at the very least, monthly) basis to see if the disks where the Firebird (.fdb) databases reside are fragmented. If they are, you should defragment them.