Disk Quotas - 12 Feb 2001

One issue that has frustrated many Windows NT administrators is the inability to limit the amount of storage space that users have access to on an NT file server. When Internet access is available on every desktop in the enterprise, users can quickly consume vast amounts of storage space with downloaded graphics, MP3s, and other downloaded files. A relatively small percentage of your user base can quickly create obstacles for users who have legitimate storage needs, increasing your server and storage costs in the process. Microsoft addresses this problem in Windows 2000 with disk quotas.

Win2K's disk quota feature is part of NTFS 5.0, the Win2K version of NTFS. Disk quotas work on a per-user, per-partition, or per-volume basis. In other words, you can set disk quotas on the partition that contains user’s home directories (e.g., E:\), but you can't set disk quotas on just the shared folder that contains the home folders.

Because you set disk quotas on a per-partition or a per-volume level, you must use an NTFS-formatted hard disk's properties page to configure the quotas. In Win2K, an NTFS hard disk's properties dialog box include the Quotas tab, which by default has disk quotas disabled, as Figure 1 shows. If you enable quotas, you can begin tracking disk use without limiting user storage capabilities, which you might find useful for auditing and planning or if you need to perform charge backs for storage utilization. To enforce storage limitations, select the Deny disk space to users exceeding quota checkbox. The next configuration options let you specify what those storage limits are. File ownership, not file collaboration, is what the system uses to track disk use. So, if you create a file and another user adds to it, the other user's changes count against your storage limits because you remain the file's owner.

If you configure the Quotas page as I have described, you set the same quota limits for all users who write to the disk. If you want to set different limits for different users, chose the Quota Entries button. You can then set individual quota limits.

As you work with disk quotas, remember two important characteristics of the feature. First, disk quotas are per-volume or per-partition, which means that you configure them independently of each other and they behave independently on each volume, even for volumes that reside on the same physical hard disk. Second, disk quotas don't account for compression, so the system uses a file's uncompressed size when assessing whether a user has exceeded a quota limit.

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