Storage Monitoring and Reporting

by [Published on 15 Dec. 2005 / Last Updated on 15 Dec. 2005]

This article demonstrates the new storage monitoring and reporting features of Windows Server 2003 R2. Using these new capabilities, administrators can generate reports for quota and file screening activity and monitor disk space on critical servers and receive email notifications on which are approaching their limit.


Get your copy of Windows Server Hacks!

In my last two articles here on WindowsNetworking.com we walked through some of the capabilities of the File Server Resource Manager (FSRM) console, a new feature of Windows Server 2003 R2 that integrates various enhancements for managing file servers. In particular, we’ve seen how to use this console to configure volume and folder quotas and to implement file screening. In both of those articles I passed over how the reporting feature works in FSRM and that’s what we’re going to look at in this present article.

Generating On-Demand Reports

First we need to understand that there are three different kinds of reports that FSRM can be used to generate: on-demand, scheduled and incident reports. On-demand reports are reports you generate manually to obtain current information about usage statistics for your file servers. For example, say you want a snapshot view of the volume and folder quota usage on your server. Specifically, let’s say you want to see if any folders you have established quotas on have exceeded 50% usage. Your reasoning might be that if a significant percentage of your shared folders are already half filled, you may want to start thinking about how you’re going to increase the quota for these folders so they don’t run out.

To generate an on-demand report for this, right-click on the root node in FSRM and select Configure Options, then select the Storage Reports tab as shown in Figure 1:


Figure 1: Configuring the default storage reports in FSRM

In the Reports listbox you can see various default reports that FSRM can generate. These reports can be used to report on the presence of excessively large files, disk space usage by user, files infrequently used, and so on.

Here’s a Quick Tip: If you want to generate reports concerning file screening violations (users trying to save files they are forbidden to save in specified folders) then you must first select the File Screen Audit tab in Figure 1 and enable the Record File Screening Activity In Auditing Database option.

The report we are interested in here is Quota Usage, so select that item and click Edit Parameters to configure the settings for that report (Figure 2):


Figure 2: Configuring settings for the Quota Usage report

Now change the value in the textbox to 50 to use this report to identify all quota volumes and folders that are more than 50% full and click OK. To generate this report immediately, right-click on the Storage Reports Management node in FSRM and select Generate Reports Now from the shortcut menu that appears. This action opens a properties sheet for the task of generating the report (Figure 3):


Figure 3: Configuring a storage report task

Before we configure these settings, let’s make sure we’ve got our terminology right:

  • A storage report is a document generated by FSRM to report on various usage activity on file servers.
  • A storage report task is the process of actually generating a storage report, and such tasks can be scheduled, initiated manually, or triggered by some occurrence.

The properties sheet in Figure 3 is used to configure the storage report task for generating our quota usage report. To configure these settings, add the volume(s) you want to report on, select the type of report(s) to generate, and choose a format for the report (the default is Dynamic HTML or DHTML). Figure 4 shows the settings for reporting on the quota usage of the C:\Docs folder, which is a shared folder for users to store their work:


Figure 4: Generating a report on quota usage for C:\Docs

Switch to the Delivery tab and optionally have the report emailed to an administrator as shown in Figure 5:


Figure 5: Emailing the report to an administrator

Clicking OK brings up a dialog box asking whether you want to display the report immediately (the default) or save them for later (Figure 6):


Figure 6: Deciding whether or not to display the report immediately

We’ll choose to display it immediately, which opens the report in Internet Explorer as soon as it has been generated (Figure 7):


Figure 7: The DHTML report for Quota Usage is displayed in Internet Explorer

From the above report we can see that the C:\docs folder has more than 50% of its quota utilized, so it’s time to start thinking about either increasing the quota, redistributing shared file space, reminding users of company policy, or whatever action you deem appropriate.

Here’s Another Quick Tip: If you’re going to generate several on-demand reports, it’s best to do them by configuring a single storage report task. In other words, select all the different types of reports you want to generate in Figure 4 above. That way the data used to create these reports is collected only once instead of once for every report. This helps alleviate the load on the server during generation of reports. If you’ve already created a storage report task and want to add additional storage reports to this task, right-click on the Storage Reports Management node in FSRM and select Add or Remove Reports From a Report Task from the shortcut menu.

Scheduling Reports

You can also schedule reports to run as task using FSRM in much the same way that Task Scheduler (or schtasks.exe) can be used to schedule running of scripts and programs. To schedule a report for running at some future time or times, right-click on the Storage Reports Management node in FSRM and select Schedule a New Report Task from the shortcut menu. This opens the Storage Reports Task Properties as in Figures 4 and 5 previously, but this time there is a new Schedule tab you can configure (Figure 8):


Figure 8: Schedule tab on properties for a storage reports task

After configuring the settings on the other two tabs, click the Create Schedule button on this tab to create a schedule for when your report will run (Figure 9):


Figure 9: Scheduling a storage report task

You can create multiple schedules for complex scheduling purposes, schedule reports to run a boot time or when the server is idle, repeat tasks periodically and more using the Schedule dialog above and by clicking the Advanced button. Scheduled reports can be emailed to administrators and they are also stored in a folder on your server. By default, the reports generated by FSRM are saved in three different folders depending on the report type, as can be seen in the table below:

Report Type

Storage Location

On-demand

%SystemDrive%\StorageReports\Interactive

Scheduled

%SystemDrive%\StorageReports\Scheduled

Incident

%SystemDrive%\StorageReports\Incident

Note that you can change these storage locations by right-clicking the root node in FSRM, selecting Configure Options, and selecting the Report Locations tab of the File Server Resource Manager Options dialog box.

Note also that if you’ve created a number of scheduled storage reports tasks, you can view them in the Results pane (top center pane) of the FSRM console window (Figure 10). By right-clicking on any of these reports tasks and selecting Run Report Task Now, you can manually run the report task to generate the report whenever you want.


Figure 10: Displaying scheduled storage reports tasks in the Results pane of FSRM

Generating Incident Reports

Finally, you can schedule a storage report to be generated when a specified incident occurs, for example when a quota warning or limit threshold is reached or when a file screening violation (either active or passive) is detected. For example, let’s configure the quota on the C:\docs volume to trigger the creation of a report when 50% of the folder’s quota is reached as before. Start by opening the properties for the quota to display the notifications defined (Figure 11):


Figure 11: Quota properties for C:\docs folder

Click Add and select the Reports tab and configure the settings as shown in Figure 12:


Figure 12: Configuring a Quota Usage incident report to be generated when the quota usage on C:\docs reaches 50%

Now when the folder becomes 50% full, a report will be generated and saved in the \StorageReports\Incident folder and will also be emailed to the administrator.

One Final Tip: You can configure quota settings on each volume root on your file servers to generate incident reports whenever overall disk usage is nearing capacity on these servers. What a great way of making sure you don’t run out of disk space!

Conclusion

File Server Resource Manager is a powerful tool for configuring quotas, creating file screens, and generating storage reports. This feature of Windows Server 2003 R2 is only one of many compelling reasons for upgrading a Windows 2000 Server-based network to Windows Server 2003 R2 and it can make your life as an administrator a lot easier with regard to how your file servers are managed.

The Author — Mitch Tulloch

Mitch Tulloch avatar

Mitch Tulloch is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, networking, and security. He has been repeatedly awarded Most Valuable Professional (MVP) status by Microsoft for his outstanding contributions in supporting users who deploy and use Microsoft platforms, products and solutions.

Latest Contributions

Advertisement

Featured Links