Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Exchange Outlook Rules 32K Limit - Frustrating!

I signed up as a WSU Exchange early tester. After two days of using it, I get really frustrated.

I use my emails as a filing system. I have a place/ category/ folder for everything.
In my non-Exchanged Outlook, I have 115 filtering rules to automatically sort my incoming emails.

But once "Exchanged"... Outlook allows me to have only 27 of my rules (all the remaining 88 are being disabled). Reason is they exceed the Exchange server rules storage limit of 32K...... yes...32K only!

There are two types of filtering rules in Exchange - server-only, and client-only rules.
  • Server-only rules are executed on the Exchange server directly. There is no need to have any email client. One can use it to automatically sort email out of the default Inbox, and keeping the Inbox clean and small. It is especially useful when one checks email a lot using mobile device.
  • Client-only rules are executed on the client side (in my case, Outlook). One can use it to sort email onto different Personal Folders on the local machine.

All my existing rules are client-only. So, why would Outlook ever need to upload those rules to the Exchange server? and subsequently be counted into the 32K Exchange server rule storage limit? A bad design, or integration on the two Microsoft products.

I then removed the Exchange server connection from my Outlook. It shocked me to find that all my rules were removed as well. Another bad product design (should I call it a bug?) in Outlook - client-only rules should always stay with the email client, and not be affected by whether there is an Exchange server configuration or not.

There is a Microsoft KB that talks about some workarounds on the Exchange 32K rules storage limit problem. Basically, rename your rules to shorter names, merge some of your rules, change your local folders to shorter names, move your Outlook data files to another location on the file system that has a shorter path, etc.

It costs me an entire afternoon and I'm finally able to cut down my number of rules to 65. Exchange is still complaining that I can only enable 64 of them. :-(

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