Recommendations for thin-provisioned volumes for computers that run Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, or Windows XP

Article ID: 959613 – Last Review: November 18, 2008 – Revision: 1.1

Recommendations for thin-provisioned volumes for computers that run Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, or Windows XP

INTRODUCTION

Thin provisioning volumes allows for space to be easily allocated to servers for just-in-time provisioning of storage for the following operating systems:

  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows Server 2003
  • Windows XP

For example, storage is allocated to users only when they need it. However, this storage availability is achieved by hiding the actual storage that is available from the file system. Hiding the actual storage does not work well with the current design of NTFS, and file system reliability can be adversely affected for thin-provisioned volumes.

We understand that thin provisioning can make file system management easier by enabling data to be allocated where it is needed across different computers. We are looking at how to provide better support for thin-provisioned storage area networks (SANs) in the future.

MORE INFORMATION

To obtain improved reliability for thin-provisioned volumes, use the following recommendations:

  • For server and storage administrators:
    • We do not recommend thin provisioning the system volume.
    • We do not recommend that you store a page file on a thin-provisioned volume.
    • We do not recommend that you run a full format without the /q switch that provides a quick option on a thin-provisioned volume.
    • We do not recommend that you run a disk defragmenter on a thin-provisioned volume because a disk defragmenter may cause additional storage consumption.
    • We recommend that you unmount the thin-provisioned volume as soon as the volume becomes over committed. When any data that is in the cache is not written to the volume, that data is lost when the volume becomes over committed.

      Note An important consideration is not to corrupt a volume when you run out of physical disk space. As soon as the scenario occurs in which the volume is over committed, all operations on that volume fail (And this includes read operations) until the volume is unmounted and then remounted with additional disk space. The unmount process is important to make sure that the file system remains in a consistent state. If you add more disk space to the over-committed volume before you unmount the volume, the volume is corrupted.

  • For storage vendors:
    • If the volume is corrupted, storage drivers must return a specific error code. This error code is recognized by the memory manager and by the cache manager, and this error code tells users that this volume is corrupted so that the users must start to discard data that is cached. If this error code is not returned, the computer eventually stops responding because the cache is filled with dirty data that cannot be written to the volume. Additionally, this data is not purged.

      For Windows Server 2008 and for later versions, the following error message is returned:

      STATUS_FILE_INVALID (0xC0000098)

      For versions of Windows that are earlier than Windows Server 2008, the following error message is returned:

      STATUS_DEVICE_NOT_CONNECTED (0xC000009D)

      Note This error code is valid for earlier versions of Windows back to Microsoft Windows NT 4.0.

    • Storage vendors must send the verification on the IOCTL_DISK_VERIFY operation only for the areas that are backed by actual storage, and storage vendors transparently send successful verify commands for areas that are not backed. This is important because the media verification scan in the Chkdsk.exe tool fails otherwise.

APPLIES TO
  • Windows Server 2008 Datacenter without Hyper-V
  • Windows Server 2008 Enterprise without Hyper-V
  • Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-Based Systems
  • Windows Server 2008 Standard without Hyper-V
  • Windows Server 2008 Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2008 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2008 Standard
  • Windows Vista Enterprise 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Home Basic 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Business
  • Windows Vista Business 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Enterprise
  • Windows Vista Home Basic
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Windows Vista Starter
  • Windows Vista Ultimate
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition for Itanium-Based Systems
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter x64 Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise x64 Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition for Itanium-based Systems
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard x64 Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Keywords: 
kbsurveynew kbtshoot kberrmsg kbinfo KB959613

 

Microsoft Knowledge Base Article

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