The storage manager component in Windows Server 2003 R2 gives administrators more ways to set and manage storage quotas. There are some implementation-related improvements, but most of the changes in quota management are geared to give administrators greater flexibility.
One welcome implementation change is that quotas are now calculated on physical file size rather than logical file size. Logical file sizes are based on the fully expanded size of files rather than the amount of storage space actually occupied. Thus, compressing a file didn't affect its logical size, even if it reduced the amount of space that was actually used by a third or more.
Microsoft's reasoning in setting quotas based on logical file sizes was that the files had to be expanded to be used, so the space would have to be available. That might be true, but the differences between logical and physical file sizes confused users and wasted space. The change in R2 not only makes life easier for users, it also saves administrators from having to explain to users why they were bumping up against their quota limit when the dir command showed they had plenty of space left.
Under previous versions of Windows, administrators could set quotas on users or on volumes only. R2 lets you set quotas on the directory tree or volume as well. R2 also allows administrators to set hard as well as soft quota limits so users can either be limited or simply warned when they exceed their quotas.
Like the rest of R2, the new quota management features are nice to have rather than must-have. Most of them are available in storage management products from third-party vendors. But it is obviously more convenient to have them built into the operating system.
Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last 20 years he has been a freelance writer specializing in issues related to storage and storage management.
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This was first published in February 2006