Simple Questions: What Are Disk Quotas & How To Set Them In Windows?

If your computer is used by more than one person, you might want to limit the amount of storage space every user has the right to use. This would ensure that the storage space on a certain drive or partition is never filled up by only one user account. Let's see how quota limits are set in Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

What Are Disk Quotas?

The first thing you should know is what disk quotas are: disk quotas are a means of controlling the storage space available on a NTFS drive or partition. By setting quotas, an administrator can set the amount of information a user can store on that drive or partition.
An administrator can enforce limits on disk quotas, so that no user can exceed them. This means that, whenever a user exceeds its disk quota, he or she will not be able to store new data on it. Furthermore, the administrator can also set warning levels, so that they know beforehand when a user is getting close to its quota limit.

What You Should Know About Disk Quota Management

There are a few things that you should about how disk quotas work in Windows:

  • In order to be able to set disk quotas and enforce quota limits, you need to use a Windows account that has administrative privileges. Standard users cannot set quotas.
  • Your hard drives (or SSDs) must use the NTFS file system. On older, FAT32 formatted drives, you cannot set disk quotas.
  • You can set quotas for disks or partitions. You cannot set quotas on folders.
  • If you have multiple drives or partitions on your Windows computer, you will have to set quota limits for each one, individually. You cannot set quotas for multiple disk / partitions at the same time.

How To Set And Enforce Quota Limits For Every User Account

NOTE: Because all the steps involved in setting disk quotas and enforcing limits on them are the same both in Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, the screenshots we'll use further on, are all taken in Windows 8.1.

First of all, open File Explorer. Then, select the disk on which you want to enforce quota limits, right click or tap and hold on it, and click or tap Properties.

Inside the drive's Properties, click or tap the Quota tab and then on the Show Quota Settings button.

Now, a window called Quota Settings is opened. This is the place where you'll have to make the settings required to enforce quota limits for each user on your Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 computer.

The first and most important thing you must do is "Enable quota management".

Once disk quotas are enabled, you can proceed and enforce quota limits. In order to do that, check the option that says "Deny disk space to users exceeding quota limit". Then, select "Limit disk space to" and input the value for the quota limit.

If you want the operating system to log an event whenever a user is nearing his or her limit, you must also set a value for the "Set warning level" field.

What Happens When A User Reaches His Or Her Disk Quota Limit

Now that you've enforced quota limits on a drive, every time a user exceeds his or her quota, he / she will get an "out of space" message and will not be able to write new data on that drive. However, users can clean some disk space by emptying the Recycle Bin, by deleting files they do not need or by uninstalling some of their programs and apps.

How To Log Disk Quota Events

If you also want the operating system to log each quota event that takes place on your computer, enable the quota logging options. In the drive's Quota Settings window check these two options: "Log event when a user exceeds their quota limit" and "Log event when a user exceeds their warning level".

Then, each time an event takes place, you can find it listed in Event Viewer.

Finally, to enable all the settings you made, click or tap Apply. Windows will ask you to confirm again that you really want to enable disk quotas. Press OK and you're good to go.

You might have noticed that we skipped explaining the Quota Entries… button. This is the entry point to some quota settings a bit more advanced, like setting specific disk quotas for specific users, managing files owned by users and so on. That is why we made the decision to write another tutorial just for that.

Conclusion

Enabling quota management and enforcing quota limits for every user on a computer can be pretty useful. That is true, of course, only if that computer is used by more than one user. The process is simple and doesn't require too much effort. Do you think quotas are useful even on a home computer, or are they useful only in office environments? Tell us your opinions by using the comments form below.