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Windows 2000 Disk Quotas

By ServerWatch Staff (Send Email)
Posted Jan 19, 2001


by Marcin Policht

The January edition of Windows 2000 Magazine featured a thorough review of Quota-Management tools. The products presented - WQuinn's QuotaAdvisor 4.1, Northern's Quota Server 5.0c, NTP Software's Quota Sentinel, and Tool4ever's SpaceGuard 4.2 - offer an attractive alternative to limited functionality provided with built-in quota management in Windows 2000. However, they don't come cheap. If you decide that their price does not fit in your budget but you still need to curb down insatiable appetite of your disk-space hungry users, you might have no other choice than go with the Windows 2000 freebie. There are a couple of things to keep in mind, though. The January edition of Windows 2000 Magazine featured a thorough review of Quota-Management tools. The products presented - WQuinn's QuotaAdvisor 4.1, Northern's Quota Server 5.0c, NTP Software's Quota Sentinel, and Tool4ever's SpaceGuard 4.2 - offer an attractive alternative to limited functionality provided with built-in quota management in Windows 2000...

Quotas are a feature of the version 5 of NTFS, introduced with Windows 2000. Although I doubt that anyone is planning on using FAT or FAT32 for user data volumes, there are implications of the fact that the quota information resides in the file system, rather than registry. For example, if you decide to move a disk to another system, quota get transferred with it. 

In addition, you should be aware of the relationship between quotas and other NTFS related features, such as compression, ownership, and sparse files. 

Quotas are assigned based on file ownership. If you need to retrieve data from backups for a user to a volume which is set with quotas, make sure you restore it to the final destination with the proper ownership. If you decide to copy it to the user's data folder using an administrative or backup operator's account, this account will become an owner, and files will no longer count towards user's space utilization.

You also should be careful when deciding about the placement of spool folder and user profile folders. Since in both cases files generated are assigned user's ownership, they will count towards the space utilization limits.

Disk compression has no effect on calculating space utilization. Sparse files use quotas equal to their total allocated size.

Error message ("Disk full") generated, when imposing quotas might lead to confusion among users.

Quotas are volume based, which prevents you from applying them on a folder level.

Quotas cannot be assigned to groups, only to individual accounts. This might become a problem if you want to customize quota entries for members of different groups.

If you implement soft quotas (which do not enforce quota limits) and want to keep track of the messages in the event logs, that generate informational event log entries (not warnings).

Also, you can not simply remove a user from the quota list as long as there are entries containing references to that users SID. You will have to either take ownership of the user's files, move them to a different volume, or delete them.

Some of the quota settings can be implemented via Group Policies, however customization (such as setting quotas to specific NTFS partitions or applying quota limits on user by user basis) have to be applied locally. 

And finally, remember that there is a slight performance penalty comparing with accessing file system with no quotas.

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