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How do I… Manage disk quotas on Windows server operating systems

Microsoft Windows server operating systems simplify managing the amount of network storage space users receive. Here's how to set warning messages and disk quotas using both the Windows Server 2003 and Windows Small Business Server 2003 operating systems.

Running out of server disk space is one of those problems that just shouldn't happen. Yet, with so many organizations increasingly trying to do more with less, having to monitor security, guard against spyware, viruses and network intrusions and manage other administrative challenges, an administrator's workday is quickly consumed.

Fortunately, newer Windows server operating systems simplify managing the amount of network storage space users receive. Here’s how to set warning messages and disk quotas using both the Windows Server 2003 and Windows Small Business Server 2003 operating systems.



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Windows Small Business Server 2003

To configure disk quota warnings and limitations for an individual user in Windows Small Business Server 2003 (Figure A):

  1. Log on to the Windows Small Business Server 2003 box as a member of the Administrators or Domain Admins group.
  2. Open the Server Management console from the Start menu or using a desktop icon.
  3. Expand the Advanced Management entry in the left pane.
  4. Expand Computer Management.
  5. Expand Storage.
  6. Select Disk Management.

Figure A

Navigate to the Disk Management console within Server Manager to view available disks and partitions.
  1. Right-click the disk volume for which you wish to set user quotas and click Properties.
  2. Highlight the Quota tab (Figure B).

Figure B

Use a volume’s Properties dialog box to enable and configure disk quotas.
  1. Confirm the Enable Quota Management checkbox is selected.
  2. Confirm the Deny Disk Space To Users Exceeding Quota Limit is checked.
  3. Click the Quota Entries button.
  4. The Quota Entries For VolumeName (DriveLetter:) console will appear (Figure C).

Figure C

The Quota Entries for VolumeName console lists disk quotas that have been configured for that volume.
  1. To adjust an existing user’s entry, double-click that user’s entry, ensure the Limit Disk Space To radio button is selected, and enter new values within the disk space limit and the warning level fields, select the appropriate label from the drop-down box (KB, MB, GB, TB, PB and EB are the available options) and click OK.
  2. To create a new entry, click the New Quota Entry icon or click Quota | New Quota Entry, enter the user’s name in the Enter The Object Names To Select (Examples): window and click OK. Specify disk space limits and warning levels and click OK. (Figure D and E)

Figure D

Use the Select Users dialog box to specify the user or users for whom you’re creating disk quotas.

Figure E

Use the Add New Quota Entry dialog box to configure warning levels and disk storage limits for specific users.

Windows Small Business Server 2003, by default, sets user disk quota limits on the volume where the User Shared Folders directory is located. The default limits set warning messages to be sent to users at 900MB, while disk storage is limited to 1GB. To change these default disk quota limits:

  1. Log on to the Windows Small Business Server 2003 as a member of the Administrators or Domain Admins group.
  2. Open the Server Management console and navigate to the volume Properties dialog box using the steps described above.
  3. Ensure the checkboxes are checked for Enable Quota Management and Deny Disk Space To Users Exceeding Quota Limit.
  4. Specify the new default disk space limits and warning levels.
  5. Click OK.

Note that disk quotas only work on those disk volumes partitioned using the NTFS file system.

If you prefer working from the command line, you can use the fsutil command to change the default disk quota limits. To do so:

  1. Click Start | Run.
  2. Type cmd and press the Enter key to open a Command Prompt.

3.     Type fsutilquota modify [VolumePathname] [Threshold] [Limit] [Domain\Username].

Enter the threshold and limit values in bytes. For example, to change the disk quota warning level to 1.9 GB and set the storage limit to 2GB on a volume possessing the drive letter E for a user named Jane within the acme domain, from the command line you would enter:

fsutil quota modify e: 2040109465 2147483648 acme\jane

If the operation fails, be sure you entered the volume, domain and username correctly and that the user has disk quotas enabled.

Windows Server 2003 R2

Setting and configuring disk quotas is quite similar within Windows Server 2003 R2. Again, warning levels and quota limits are specified using a volume’s Properties tab. The only difference is the manner in which a volume’s Properties dialog box is accessed.

When using Windows Server 2003 R2, access Computer Management by:

  1. Logging on to the Windows Server 2003 as a member of the Administrators or Domain Admins group.
  2. Clicking Start | Manage Your Server (Figure F).

Figure F

Instead of Windows Small Business Server’s Server Management console, when using Windows Server 2003 R2, open the Manage Your Server console and select Administrative Tools to begin setting user disk quotas.
  1. Selecting Administrative Tools from the Tools and Updates section (Figure G).

Figure G

Windows Server 2003 R2’s Computer Management console can be accessed from the Administrative Tools menu.
  1. Double-clicking Computer Management (Figure H).
  2. Selecting Disk Management.

Figure H

Access volumes within Windows Server 2003 R2 using the same Disk Management console and process (described above) used in Windows Small Business Server 2003.
  1. Right-clicking the volume for which you wish to configure warning levels or disk quota limits and selecting Properties.

In Windows Server 2003 R2, just as in Windows Small Business Server 2003, the fsutil command provides a quick shortcut to quickly changing a specific user’s disk quota limits and warning levels.

File Server Resource Manager

Ever since native disk quotas were introduced with Windows 2000 Server, however, administrators have been requesting the ability to assign disk quotas differently. Traditional Windows disk quotas are calculated using files’ logical size and are based on the user owning a file, not necessarily the user maintaining or storing the file. Also, Windows servers previously lacked the ability to natively configure disk quotas on multiple volumes or folders simultaneously, such as would prove helpful in larger enterprise environments. 

Windows Server 2003 R2 also includes a new feature that addresses several disk quota shortfalls. While beyond the scope of this How Do I article, administrators can install Microsoft’s new File Server Resource Manager (FSRM) on servers running the new server OS release and use the new feature to configure accurate disk quotas (based on files’ physical disk consumption) at the folder as well as volume level. FSRM even enables configuring quotas on multiple volumes simultaneously using templates. More information on FSRM can be found here.

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