About: Quota Types in NSS


Essentially there are two different quota variations in Northern Storage Suite. This stems from the fact that there are two distinct usage cases. The quota variations and their use cases are as follows:

1. User quotas. Monitoring\Controlling the amount of storage consumed by individual users within a shared folder\share. This type of quota is typically applied to a project folder or department share.
2. Object quotas. Monitoring\Controlling the size of an individual share or folder. This type of quota is typically applied to a user's home share.

These are the fundamental quota types and they deliver the core functional value proposition of storage quotas in medium/large enterprise environments. There are of course variations on these core types that allow for Northern Storage Suite to be adapted to the storage pains in medium/large enterprise environments.

User Quotas - Usage by User

A quota configured on a specific user account will monitor and, if configured as a hard quota, limit the amount of space consumed by the specific user within the quota path. So the quota is set on an folder\share but only monitors\controls the usage of an indivdual user within that folder\share. This quota type is referred to as a User quota.

User Quota

Most Common Usage Case:

The most common usage case for a User quota is to monitor\control the usage of an individual user within a project folder or a departmental share. Employed in this way Northern Storage Suite is able to prevent individual users from consuming excessive amounts of disk space within the normally tough to control disk objects.

Object Quotas - Folder\Shares

A quota set on a folder or share will  monitor and, if configured as a hard quota, limit the size of the target disk object. This quota type is referred to as an Object quota.

Object Quota

Most Common Usage Case:

The most common usage case for an Object quota is to monitor\control the size of a user share. In almost all organizations each user will be designated a share in which he\she can save documents. Visibility and control over these user shares is necessary if the provision of this storage space is not to be knowlingly or unknowingly exploited with picture\music\video libraries, pst files, desktops backups and backups of those backups.

Interval Quotas - Scheduled Checks

Interval quotas are similar to object quotas in that they monitor\control the size of folders\shares. In contrast to both User and Object quotas, however, Interval quotas are not updated in real-time. Instead the target disk object is polled on a user-defined schedule and the usage level is updated accordingly.

Interval Quota

Special Considerations:

The fact that usage levels are evaluated on an interval has special implications for threhsold actions. If a quota object exceeds a threhsold that 'breach' of threshold will only be identifed when the next scan is carried-out. The interval set on the quota also determines when notifications can be sent and when a quota can be locked and, more importantly unlocked.

In many cases it is not advisable to configue interval quotas as hard quotas. For example: An interval quota is configured to check usage levels every 24 hours. A hard lock is put in place. The quota is breeched during the day on Monday. The quota is locked following the usage level check on Monday night. Regardless of how many files the user removes during Tuesday, the quota cannot be unlocked [without manual intervention] until after the scan of Tuesday night.

Most Common Usage Cases:

Remote sites on weak connections. If remote sites on low-bandwidth and/or high-latency links should be included in storage policies then it may be preferable to have those targets scanned only during off-peak hours instead of monitoring them in real-time. Soft quotas are recommended here as the lock\unlock evaluation is made every interval.

Applications that generate large log files can be monitored with a soft Interval quota. The application should be allowed to continue logging as expected but a regular check of the size of its output and notifications to relevant personnel will prevent emergencies from occuring.

Quota Policies - Automatic Deployment

Northern Storage Suite includes the possiblity to configure automatic deployment of quota policies. The 'AutoDir', 'AutoUser' and 'AutoGroup' quota policies allow administrators to configure a quota engine that generates quotas within the target path. These tools are designed to allow quick and efficiently roll-out of Object and User quota policies.

Quota Policies


The AutoDir policy type will create an Object quota for each existing and any new subdirectory of the target path. So an AutoDir policy set on \\server1\users will spawn an Object quota for \\server1\users\user1\, \\server1\users\user2\, etc. It will also create a quota for any new directory that is created. The settings of these generated quotas are determined by the settings in the AutoDir policy itself.


The AutoUser policy type will create a User quota for each existing user who is saving into the target path and any new user who saves into that path. So an AutoUser policy on \\server2\engineering\ will generate a User quota for each user who owns files within this path, it will also create quotas for any new users who save into this path. The settings of these generated quotas are determined by the settings in the AutoUser policy itself.


The AutoGroup policy type is identical to the AutoUser policy except that it will only create quotas for those users who are members of the group specifed in the AutoGroup policy. So an AutoGroup policy configured to generate quotas for members of the Engineering security group and set on \\server3\project1\ will generate User quotas for all members of the Engineering group. Note that if a user is a member of multiple groups then the most restrictive policy will apply.

Soft and Hard Quotas

All of these quotas types can be configured to monitor usage levels and display\report as usage increases [or decreases]. When configured as a monitoring tool the policies are known as soft quotas.

Equally, all of these quota types can be configured to control usage levels; preventing users from saving more than they have been allocated or preventing an object from growing over a certain size. When configured with this strict limits the policies are known as hard quotas.

Soft Quota

A quota that is configured without any locking actions will monitor the amount of storage consumed by the user or the size of the target folder\share and update the usage indicators in the console. This update is performed in real-time for User and Object quotas and according to the defined schedule for Interval quotas. Notifications can be associated with different precentage thresholds of usage in the soft quota, so emails can sent at 80%, 100% and 110% of usage for instance.

Hard Quota 

A quota configured to prevent the folder\share from exceeding a specified size, or to prevent a user from saving more than the defined limit within a quota path, is considered to be a hard quota; a quota with a lock. There are three degrees of locking available in Northern Storage Suite, each more stringent than the last. The locking levels are detailed in other Knowledge Base articles [see the Additional Resources section below].

Northern Storage Suite utilizes a range of mechanisms to achieve locking on quotas. The [automated] selection of locking mechanism, or interface, depends on the type of platform that is being targeted. A hard quota configured on an EMC Unified Storage device will utilize the CEPA interface, on DAS a kernel mode filter driver is used. The interfaces used in locking quotas are detailed in other Knowledge Base articles [see the Additional Resources section below].


  • KB1729 What is/are: The Interfaces Used in Quota Operations
  • KB Article: 1778

    Updated: 12/6/2016

    • Category
      • Concept
    • Affected versions
      • NSS 9.0
      • NSS 9.5
      • NSS 9.6
      • NSS 9.7
      • NSS 9.8

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