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Sooner or later, all organizations reach the free storage limit of Dynamics 365. In this post, we will examine possible ways of dealing with the issue of running out of storage in Dynamics 365 in the cloud. We will take into account the cost and how easily we can implement it.
A common issue with D365 storage space
Here is one of the requests Dynamics 365 managers often get:
One of our clients is having a problem with increasing database size very quickly. The huge database size is also becoming a performance issue. Besides, the client is looking for decreasing the storage costs. Current database size is 530GB. We have checked the free add-on from Microsoft, but we are reluctant about bringing it in our org full scale. Besides, looking for more functionality like extracting old and new documents.
Here’s a kicker: we have sensitive documents so we would prefer them not to run through any external service.
We also cannot employ anything outside the constraints of what we currently have in our Azure tenancy, that being: Dynamics 365 with the option of uploading custom plugins and/or custom workflow tasks or currently paid-for PaaS facilities, notably Flow. This eliminates the option of having a console-based application, or even a web app.
This request from a D365 admin reflects a typical constraint of the cloud CRM: the 10GB storage provided as part of a first subscription (Base license) of Customer Engagement or Finance, Supply Chain Management, Retail and Talent applications runs out quickly. When you are out of storage, you have only two options: pay for extra storage or look for ways to free up space.
Try reducing the storage needed in D365
When monitoring D365 health to ensure the system’s optimal performance, you should also keep an eye on whether or not there is enough space for growth.
When you reach 80% of D365 total storage capacity, the system should notify you so that you can take action.
Here is what you can do to reduce used up storage space:
- Delete old records, such as cases and opportunities
- Remove unnecessary attachments (from emails and notes) through advanced find and bulk deletion
- Delete audit logs
- Remove suspended workflows you won’t use again
- Delete bulk import instances
- Remove bulk duplicate detection jobs and bulk deletion job instances (strangely enough, those take-up space)
Are you still lacking space after doing all this? The problem most likely lies in attachments and documents. According to several surveys, documents and attachments take up 70% of storage space in Dynamics 365 on average. If your organization tracks emails in the CRM system as most companies do, free storage shrinks quickly – and it is not reversible with traditional measures.
Leveraging document management systems
Dynamics 365, just like other cloud CRM systems, was primarily designed to manage customer relations and not to store documents. For that reason, the best-proven practice for avoiding extra costs with document storage is moving them to other systems. These have cheaper storage and some times extra features.
Among the most popular are Document Management Systems (DMS) like SharePoint, and storage solutions like Azure Blob and Azure File Storage. These have a much lower price per GB than Dynamics 365 storage.
SharePoint, in particular, besides offering cheaper storage, offers organizations immense collaborating opportunities.
How to synchronize Dynamics 365 with Azure Blob or SharePoint
Before a D365 user can send attachments and other documents and to another system, the two systems need to be synchronized. Of course, manually extracting the documents is also a possibility in theory, but it is not feasible in practice because it takes up too much time.
Currently, there are a couple of solutions on the market for extracting attachments from Dynamics 365. Let’s have a look.
The first one comes from Microsoft Labs. Attachment Management is a free add-on feature to Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement. It works fully online, and it creates an attachment in Azure when you add a note or email attachment to Dynamics 365 (then deleting the file in Dynamics once it is successfully in Azure Blob storage).
Nonetheless, D365 experts advise that you use this free add-on with caution.
Firstly, you have to consider that tech support for free apps is usually limited. In case of any trouble, you might have to rely on your own.
Secondly, current customers seem to not be so happy. Some can’t get it to work “Could not get it working, Plugins said it succeeded but nothing in Azure after waiting 20 mins! Documentation was not too detailed either” . Others feel the automation is limited “in order to migrate all of our 61,000+ attachments, we have to hit a “move to blob” button in 160+ attachment increments. You basically have to micro manage the migration by repetitiously clicking a button that could easily be automated. The monotony is horrendous. The concept is great, the execution is terrible.” or “Report is slow to load (several minutes) and you have to manually execute 100 at a time. Would have taken several days of pushing the button.” (reviews from AppSource).
Thirdly, this add-on only works on what you do from the installation onward, which is not good if you were already reaching the limit by then.
Finally, this solution works only for Azure Blob, so if you prefer SharePoint and the document collaboration advantages it offers, you need to look for other options.
CB Dynamics 365 Seamless Attachment Extractor
Connecting Software has been working on synchronization solutions since 2009, and we have noticed that the limited storage space is a chronic problem in many cloud CRM systems. In 2019, we launched CB Dynamics 365 Seamless Attachment Extractor.
The solution solves the problem of Dynamics 365’s expensive storage space. It transfers seamlessly (thus, the name) any attachment files from CRM to other configured storage. For the end-user, it still looks like the attachment files are in Dynamics.
The user can still work with the attachments the same way as if they were stored in Dynamics. Yet, the add-on has actually offloaded them to another file storage, namely SharePoint, Azure File Storage, or Azure Blob Storage. This is entirely transparent to the user, who goes on working the exact same way they did before.
Each document will not take up storage space in D365 while, at the same time, it will remain reachable to users without any change to their workflows in D365. Any additional modification of those files will be transferred to the configured external file storage automatically.
It is important to note that, with the CB Dynamics 365 Seamless Attachment Extractor add-on, your documents are not leaving the Dynamics and attachment storage systems. There is no external service in between. When security is a concern, when you have sensitive data or want to ensure regulatory compliance (GDPR comes to mind…), then this is a crucial point, as you can see in the video (click on the image below).
Another convenient feature, unique for the market, is that is can compress/decompress files on-the-fly. It can also encrypt/decrypt them with AES256 encryption, which was adopted by the U.S. government and now used worldwide.
On top of that, if you have reached 80% of the storage space limit, this add-on will automatically go through the attachments that existed before you installed the add-on. You can move those attachments to SharePoint, Azure Blob, or Azure Storage. It works exactly the same way as it does for the ones that come up after the install. Isn’t that great news?
Want to know more on how to reduce Dynamics 365 storage costs?
If you want to know more on how CB Dynamics 365 Seamless Attachment Extractor can help your organization save on storage costs and more, our experts will be glad to talk to you and walk you through a free demo.
By Ana Neto,
Software engineer since 1997, she is now a technical advisor for Connecting Software.
Connecting Software is a global producer of integration and synchronization software solutions since 2004.