Help users handle disk space limiting

Keeping disk usage to a minimum and available space at a maximum on user workstations is a never-ending challenge. You have a few options you can use in addition to, or instead of, installing new hard drives or applying disk quotas to help users get past their disk space cramps.

If you install a new drive, some users can have a hard time with the fact that some of their documents are now stored on a different drive. To alleviate that problem, you can create a shortcut in a user's My Documents folder that points to the folder(s) on the new drive where his documents are stored. This gives a user quick access to the new drive from a familiar location.

You can also use this shortcut method as a sort of low-tech alternative to the distributed file system (DFS), which lets an administrator create a single file namespace from disparate folders and systems. You might add multiple shortcuts in the user's My Documents folder to point not only to multiple local folders, but also to shared network folders.

Another option that will ease user confusion when you add another disk is to mount that disk to an empty NTFS folder in the user's My Documents folder. The new drive then appears as a folder under My Documents.

Follow these steps to accomplish this bit of magic:

  1. Create an empty NTFS folder in the user's My Documents folder.
  2. Add the new hard drive to the system and format it.
  3. In the Disk Management console, right-click the new drive and choose Change

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  1. Drive Letter And Path.
  2. Click Add, choose Mount In This NTFS Folder, click Browse, and browse to the folder you created in step 1.
  3. Click OK, and then close the Disk Management console.

These solutions are great for users who keep their documents on their local computers, but it might be even better to redirect users' document folders to a network drive. There you can more easily control quotas and backup. Redirecting the 'My Documents' folder to a network drive is the way I recommend doing it, because of the backup options. Since all our network drives are backed up every night, all documents are securely stored.

This was first published in April 2003

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