What are the new storage management technologies in Windows Server 2003 R2?

A. Since Windows 2000 Server, we've had basic per-user per-disk logical-size-based quotas. However, there are multiple situations in which this type of quota doesn't meet requirements. The logical nature of the quota calculations means that if users compress their data, they gain no benefit from their quota because compressed files retain the same logical size; their physical size on disk is reduced, but the quota ignores this. Also quotas are per-disk and per-user. If areas exist that are shared between groups of users or there's more than one location on a single disk, the existing quota scheme doesn't function. Finally, quotas control how much space someone can use, not what they can do with it. The user and the administrator might have a difference of opinion over what the highly available file space should be used for. File screening controls what users can write to a volume or folder.

Windows 2003 R2 introduces a whole new suite of technologies around the File Server Resource Management suite of services, which comprises these three technologies:

  • Storage Reports is a set of reports with configurable parameters that you can run on an as-needed basis or at scheduled intervals, then email or post the output to a storage area. For example, a company could run a storage report of each business area's data at 2 A.M. each morning and post it to a Sharepoint portal or Web site. You can output the storage reports to a number of formats, including Dynamic HTML (DHTML), which lets you resort the displayed data, HTML, XML, CSV and text. Reports provided include duplicate files, files by file group, files by owner, large files, least-accessed and most-recently accessed files, quotas used and file screen reports.
  • Quota Management lets you apply quotas on a volume or folder via custom settings or a pre-defined template (Microsoft provides a number of templates of common quota combinations). Quotas can be defined as hard or soft: A hard quota will stop files from being written to the file or folder once the quota limit has been reached; a soft quota won't stop files from being written once the quota limit is breached. You can configure one or more email or event log notifications (e.g., when you reach a quota and/or when you reach 85 percent of the quota, 90 percent of the quota, or any other percentage.
  • File Screening Management lets you apply file type screening filters at volume or folder levels, which will stop files of the selected type from being written. A number of file groups are predefined, as the figureshows, to avoid having to type in all the file type extensions. You can configure file screening to be active or passive. An active file screen stops filtered files from being written; passive file screens allow the files to be written but still triggers any defined actions. Notifications can be via email, event log entry, command, or storage report. You can also configure exceptions on folders that allow file groups. For example, you could filter all audio, video, image, and text files for a folder, but create a subfolder named audio with an exception defined for audio files that controls where files can be created. Users will received an Access Denied message when trying to write a filtered file type, and if you configure an email notification they would receive a message seconds later notifying them why they got the error message and directing them, for example, to company policy on storing Britney Spears albums on the network.

    When you combine these technologies you have the ability to see how file space is used (storage reports), how much space is used (quota management), and what the space is used for (file screening).

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