Managing Disk Storage Can Turn Windows NT/2000 Servers Into Top Performers - Page 2

 By Elizabeth Ferrarini
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Enforce Hard Quotas to Ensure Maximum Server Uptime

Unlike soft quotas, hard quotas allow the server to refuse any additional I/O event, such as saving a file, after the quota threshold has been met or exceeded. To this end, hard quotas can ensure a certain percentage of free space for server performance, application availability, and continuity.

A systems administrator can set hard quotas in a variety of expressions, including percentage of available space (such as 89%), fixed quantity (such as 10 GB), or percentage of space currently used (such as 150% of current space used). These expressions provide systems administrators with the flexibility to set the appropriate hard quotas for the particular device and the nature of the data stored on each server.

In addition to setting directory-level hard quotas, systems administrators can set a hard quota on each employee's space within the directory quotas on specific servers. This practice can prevent employees from jeopardizing server performance. If the sum of each employee's individual quota totals less than the overall directory quota, the server is under its total allowable capacity, and performance is maintained. These conditions will hold true even if each user reaches his maximum quota simultaneously.

Setting hard quotas puts the burden on the IT department to make sure employees understand that they have to free up space before they can store additional documents. Thus, the IT department needs to initiate a good communications program before turning on hard quotas. The IT department should also make it easy for employees to groom their space. A hard quota with an overdraft allotment enables employees who've exceeded their quota to save their files without any disruptions to their work. As employees receive alerts, the IT department can e-mail them a report listing all their files. For example, an HTML page with file links lets an employee click on a file extension, view the file, and then click on the link again to delete the file.

Windows 2000's User Quotas Don't Hold Up

Windows 2000 includes a native user quota management capability. However, with only one quota threshold, employees don't receive any warning before reaching their quota limitation. Lack of warning can prompt unpleasant calls from employees to the systems administrator or help desk. In addition, Windows 2000's user quotas don't allow employees to completely save a file if they've reached or exceeded the quota during the save. This procedure can prove disruptive to employees. Windows 2000 server does not include directory quotas, nor does it allow any quota control beyond the user level.


Third-Party Software

Third-party quota management software companies offer better alternatives than Windows 2000's native quota management capability. Some products include multiple quota thresholds so employees have plenty of advance warning when they approach their hard quota. Other useful capabilities include providing employees with reports listing their files, or enabling a block mechanism to keep certain files types (such as MP3s) from being stored on the network.

Real-time quota management products don't do periodic scans, and thus don't affect a server's performance. However, a quota management product that scans every five or 10 minutes can put a dent in a server's performance. Also, with this type of product employees may exceed capacity if they go over their quota after the scan cycle takes place. The CrossLinks sidebar lists third-party quota management vendors for Windows NT/2000. //

Elizabeth M. Ferrarini is a freelance author based in Arlington, Mass.

This article was originally published on Dec 21, 2000
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