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Our DB is larger than we would like. Just two tables, activity and log_activity make up more than 25% of the DB size.

We send secheduled reminders for memberships and to potential new members who have visited our booth at expos. We want an activity that records an email was sent, but we don't need to store the content of the emails in the activity, just the subject is enough. We removed the content of the emails on our staging site and the tables dropped to about 30% of the original size.

At the moment when creating a scheduled reminder there is a tick box for "Record activity for automated email". Would it be appropriate and feasible to have another tick box to indicate whether or not the content of the email should be stored in the activity? (Probably for some schedule reminders of, say, payments owing storing the content of the email on each activity would be desirable.

Am I right in thinking this should be tackled via an extension?

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A variation that might be easier is put whatever you did to test removing the content into a script and run it daily via cron. I'm assuming you did something like

UPDATE civicrm_activity set details='' WHERE (something)

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