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Disk and file management features

Updated: January 21, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Disk and file management features

This topic contains a brief overview of the disk and file management features in the Windows Server 2003 family. It is divided into three sections: New and updated features since Windows Server 2003 (without SP1), New and updated features since Windows NT 4.0, and New and updated features since Windows 2000.

For links to more information about the features in this release, see New Features.

The disk, volume, and file management features in this release make it a flexible platform for file servers and make it easier for users to locate and access information.

New and updated features since Windows Server 2003 (without SP1)

Windows Server 2003 operating systems with Service Pack 1 (SP1) offer the following improvements (compared to Windows Server 2003 without SP1) that help provide increased levels of support for disk and file management:

Distributed File System (DFS)
You can use the /move parameter in Dfscmd.exe to rename a DFS link.

GUID partition table (GPT) disks
The GUID partition table (GPT) disk partitioning style supports volumes up to 18 exabytes in size and up to 128 partitions per disk. In comparison, the master boot record (MBR) disk partitioning style supports volumes up to 2 terabytes in size and up to four primary partitions per disk (or three primary partitions, one extended partition, and unlimited logical drives). Unlike MBR partitioned disks, data that is critical to platform operation is located in partitions instead of unpartitioned or hidden sectors. In addition, GPT partitioned disks have redundant primary and backup partition tables for improved partition data structure integrity.

For more information about using GPT and MBR disks on Itanium-based computers, on x64-based computers, and on x86-based computers running Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1), see GUID partition table.

New and updated features since Windows NT 4.0

The Windows Server 2003 family offers the following improvements (in comparison to Windows NT 4.0) that help provide increased levels of support for disk and file management:

Disk Management
Disk Management is a system utility for managing hard disks and the volumes, or partitions, that they contain. With Disk Management, you can initialize disks; create volumes; format volumes with FAT, FAT32, or NTFS file systems; and create fault-tolerant disk systems. Disk Management enables you to perform most disk-related tasks without shutting down the system or interrupting users; most configuration changes take effect immediately. For more information, see Disk Management.

Disk quota support
You can use disk quotas on volumes formatted with the NTFS file system to monitor and limit the amount of disk space available to individual users. You can define the responses that result when users exceed your specified thresholds. For more information, see Disk Quotas.

Distributed File System
With Distributed File System (DFS), you can create a single directory tree that includes multiple file servers and file shares in a group, division, or enterprise. This allows users to easily find files or folders distributed across the network. DFS shares can also be published as Volume Objects in Active Directory. For more information, see Distributed File System (DFS).

Distributed Link Tracking
Using Distributed Link Tracking and NTFS, you can enable client applications to track linked sources that have been moved. For example, a client application will always be able to access a linked database, even if the database location changes.

Distributed Authoring and Versioning
Using Distributed Authoring and Versioning, remote authors can edit, move, or delete files, file properties, directories, and directory properties on your server over a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) connection.

High-performance content indexing
You can use Indexing Service to provide a fast, easy, and secure way for users to search for information locally or on the network. Users can search in files in different formats and languages, either through the Search command on the Start menu or through Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) pages that they view in a browser.

Encrypting File System
Encrypting File System (EFS) complements other access controls and provides an added level of protection for your data. EFS runs as an integrated system service, making it easy to manage, difficult to attack, and transparent to the user. For more information, see Encrypting File System.

Removable Storage and Remote Storage
Removable Storage makes it easy to track your removable storage media (tapes and optical discs) and to manage the hardware libraries, such as changers and jukeboxes, that contain them. Remote Storage uses criteria that you specify to automatically copy little-used files to removable media. If hard-disk space drops below specified levels, Remote Storage removes the (cached) file content from the disk. If the file is needed later, the content is automatically recalled from storage. Because removable optical discs and tapes are less expensive per megabyte (MB) than hard disks, Removable Storage and Remote Storage can decrease your costs. For more information about Removable Storage, see Removable Storage. For more information about Remote Storage, see Remote Storage.

Remote Storage is not available on Windows Server 2003, Web Edition or on Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition. For more information about Windows Server 2003, Web Edition, see Overview of Windows Server 2003, Web Edition.

New and updated features since Windows 2000

The Windows Server 2003 family offers the following improvements (in comparison to Windows 2000) that help provide increased levels of support for disk and file management:

Remote document sharing
A new Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) redirector supports the WebDAV protocol for remote document sharing over HTTP. The WebDAV redirector supports the use of existing applications and allows file sharing across the Internet (through firewalls, routers, and so forth) to HTTP servers. With the WebDAV redirector, you can host Web repositories that can be accessed from anywhere on the Internet and with any application, not just those that interpret Web publishing protocols.

Command-line support for disk management
With the new DiskPart command, you can perform many disk management tasks from the command line. For more information, see Managing disks and volumes from the command line and DiskPart.

GUID partition table (Itanium-based versions only)
Windows XP 64-bit Edition (Itanium) and the Itanium-based versions of Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition, and Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition, support a new disk partitioning style, the GUID partition table (GPT). Unlike master boot record (MBR) partitioned disks, data that is critical to platform operation is located in partitions instead of in unpartitioned or hidden sectors. In addition, GPT partitioned disks have redundant primary and backup partition tables for improved partition data structure integrity. For more information, see GUID partition table.

Shadow copies of shared folders
With shadow copies of shared folders, you can open, view, and save point-in-time versions of files that are stored in shared network folders. For example, if you accidentally delete a file from a network share, you can use the shadow copy feature to retrieve a previous version of the file. For more information, see Shadow Copies for Shared Folders.

File management improvements
With improved folder options, you can manage files more effectively. For example, you can customize your folder view to show common tasks for files and folders, which makes it easier to send files through e-mail or give a user access to a place on a Web server. Increased thumbnail size makes it easier to identify documents.

Support for storage area networks (SANs)
For better interoperability in storage area network (SAN) environments, on Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition, and Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition, volumes on new basic disks are not automatically mounted and assigned drive letters by default when added to the system. You must manually mount basic volumes and assign the drive letters using Disk Management or the DiskPart and mountvol commands. Dynamic disks, removable media devices (such as Zip or Jaz drives), and optical discs (such as CD-ROM or DVD-RAM) are always automatically mounted by the system when they are detected.

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